The 475 delegates at this year’s truncated two-day conference of the American Association of Advertising Agencies in Bermuda [WAMN, 12-May-00], heard speaker after speaker refer to television as a "lean back" medium, experienced passively, as opposed to the "lean forward" and actively experienced nature of the internet.

In a general session devoted to interactive marketing, it was revealed that the 4As is poised for significant change with some of Madison Avenue’s most senior names each agreeing to take the Association’s chair for a one-year term as an active "lean forward" leader. Their objective will be to galvanise the conservative association into a proactive rather than reactive stance to the many challenges faced by the ad industry.

Said John J Dooner Jnr, newly elected 4As vice-chair (and president and chief operating officer of the Interpublic Group): "We are an industry with a history of being defensive, responding to Hollywood, consultants and the dotcoms." He will serve as Association chair in 2001-2002.

Mr Dooner was echoed by outgoing 4A chair, Shelly Lazarus, chair and chief executive of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide: "We're at a great change point for our industry. There is a wonderful world of opportunity and change and creativity, the likes of which I've never seen" she said. "There is more opportunity in our business than we have the people or resources to handle, and that is what I call a real high-class problem." Ms Lazarus offered the delegates a "confession", admitting that a year back she had been "reluctant" to accept the chair of an organization she perceived as standing for "too much golf, too many 50-year-old white men in pastel pants."

To enthusiastic applause, Lazarus continued: "At a time of enormous change in the economy and in our industry, I wasn't sure our traditional trade association would notice - or care. I was wrong. I was very wrong. The current leaders of our industry are now actively involved in this organization," she added. "We are the generation leading the biggest change in our business in decades. It is a glorious time to be in advertising. I think we now have the role we always wished for."

As the conference wound to its close, the 4As presented its annual honors, the 1999 O'Toole Creative Awards

 For general excellence (agencies billing more than $30 million): Lowe Lintas & Partners, New York

 Ditto (agencies billing less than $30m ) DeVito/Verdi, New York, its fifth victory in six years.

 Multicultural advertising (black consumers): Vigilante in New York, for the second consecutive year.

 Ditto (Spanish-speaking consumers): Conill Advertising, New York, joint first in 1998.

 Ditto(Other multicultural): Admerasia, New York.

 Public service advertising (television work): Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami.

 Ditto (print work): Sawyer Riley Compton, Atlanta.

News source: New York Times