Dynamic Changes Face Promax/BDA’s Hunt

Lee Hunt, interim managing director and vice chairman of Promax/BDA, will oversee the group’s annual showcase conference June 12-14 in New York after a tumultuous year for the TV business, marketers and the organization itself.

In February, the board of directors named Hunt to replace former Promax/BDA President Jim Chabin following a shakeup at the marketing association, which also includes the Association of Electronic Interactive Marketers. A search for a permanent replacement is still under way.

Hunt was put in charge of assembling this year’s 2½-day confab, which will feature 65 panel sessions—amounting to six per hour delving into topics ranging from creative and research to design and promotion—and a “speed dating” event pairing clients and vendors in short, introductory “power meetings” on June 13 and 14.

Former President Bill Clinton will provide the keynote address, laying out the issues marketers must confront in dealing with globalization, growing interdependence and achieving “shared goals and values.”

The realism will be balanced by surrealism when director John Waters (Hairspray, Serial Mom) talks about the creative process behind his movies and how the “grotesque” influenced his work as a filmmaker, author and TV host.

The outrageous-to-sublime theme will continue when Ron Scalera, executive VP/creative director for CBS, highlights the best promos, commercials and graphics from around the world. CNBC marketing maven Donny Deutsch will also be on hand.

In his first interview since assuming the top post, Hunt discusses with B&C’sJim Benson how the Promax/BDA conference will confront the challenges presented by a multitude of new distribution and marketing platforms.

How is the convention shaping up?

So far, we are really tracking ahead in membership and locked into all of our sessions.

What are you looking at in terms of numbers?

We [have been] tracking a few hundred ahead of last year. We should end up somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000.

Are you doing anything new or different this year?

Yes. In terms of content, new platforms will play a big part. We have one overview session about new platforms, especially YouTube, Google and viral marketing.

Last year, YouTube was still in its infancy, and iTunes’ on-demand services were not quite as big. We’re all about pushing forward. The theme is about how ideas, audiences, technology and content all meet. Most people in the business consider themselves to be in TV marketing and designing, but it really now is all about content marketing and designing.

What will marketers’ take away from former President Clinton’s 50-minute address?

Clinton is one of the best communicators out there. He will discuss some of the responsibility that marketers have in dealing with the issues that are facing everyone around the world.

Is Promax/BDA doing anything to highlight the pro-social issues he will discuss?

We have a whole session on green marketing.

You now have broadcast networks’ identities blurring into cable brands—and even into other networks’ brands. What is Promax doing to help traditional-media marketers navigate?

The show is all about content marketing for actual shows, network and channel brands—truly the idea that TV is now one big platform. We are putting a big focus on engagement and guidance. There are so many choices that people are overwhelmed.

Strong navigation will be a big focus of our design panels, and there will be lots of different sessions about the use of new tools to continue to build inspiration.

Is it tougher for your group to operate in a rapidly changing environment like this?

Expectations are much higher than they used to be. Our audience is much more demanding, and we have been very demanding ourselves on the session chairs to make their panels significant and relevant.

Did the delays caused by the Promax/BDA leadership changes early this year impede the planning process in any way?

Not really. The board planned the conference and its call for [panel] submissions attracted a record number, more than 250.

How has the organization changed under your leadership?

We are just completely focused on delivering value to our membership and dealing with all of the dynamic changes in the industry. We want Promax/BDA to deliver the kind of experience that brings about a strong ROI.