Conversations About the Future of Advertising: Alan Wolk

Alan Wolk, Conversations About the Future of Advertising

I attended the first 2009 Conversations About the Future of Advertising event (CATFOA) put on by Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) and Minnesota College of Art and Design (MCAD) at the Fine Line Music Cafe (FLMC) last night.

Wow, that’s a damn lot of acronyms there (WTAHOALOAT).

If you’re not already familiar, “CATFOA seeks to improve the quality of interactive marketing and advertising developed in the Twin Cities through enlightening presentations and their resulting conversation.”

Last year’s events were both informative and popular, bringing in a good assortment of nationally recognized media and marketing folks, including Joseph Jaffe (sporting shiny white tennis shoes, mind you) and Adweek’s Brian Morrissey.

Last night’s speaker was Alan Wolk, a New York marketing consultant known for his marketing blog, The Toad Stool, and most recently for his blog series, “Your Brand is Not My Friend.”

Here are a few highlights (captured in <140 character succinct bites, of course):

  • “99 percent of brands are NOT Prom Kings” (e.g., Whole Foods, Apple, Batman, Chicago Bears, Rolling Stones) -@awolk #catfoa
  • “Ads are now all about getting people to Google. Once this happened, tv and print couldn’t close the deal anymore” -@awolk #catfoa
  • “What consumers think is far more valuable than what the brand and ad agency have to say when driving purchase” -@awolk #catfoa

It has to be tough to come in from out of town and have to tackle a diverse crowd of consultants, agency veterans, designers, copywriters, social media gurus and/or recently laid-off folks who may or may not already know lots or very little about what you’re talking about. Hell, I’m still struggling with it. We’re a diverse group.

Unsurprisingly, the questions from the audience showed this diversity — from basic, “How do I know if my company should/should not be blogging?” to the more complex “How you monetize and prove ROI for social media tactics?”

Alan did a good job focusing on top-level concepts and citing a few real world case studies. And since some of us were ready for the 201 and 301-level discussion, his presentation helped kickstart post-lecture networking discussions among attendees, and you know me, I always love the opportunity to bring the interactive marketing community together and pool our intellectual capital (buzzword bingo, ftw!)

CATFOA provided that very opportunity last night (and free food, to boot). Thanks to MIMA, MCAD and Alan!

Check out the upcoming speakers and tell your coworkers they are missing out if they don’t show up (btw, it’s free):

Monday, March 9
Kristina Halvorson

Monday, April 6
Bob Thacker
Senior Vice President, Marketing & Advertising

Monday, April 27
David Armano
Vice President, Experience Design – Critical Mass
(and pundit at Logic+Emotion)

Monday, May 11
Michael Lebowitz
Founder & CEO

2 thoughts on “Conversations About the Future of Advertising: Alan Wolk

  1. Greg: Thanks for such an excellent write-up. You are quite perceptive too- it’s hard knowing where to aim the presentation, given the diverse audience and diverse levels of experience with social media. I figured it was best to keep it basic and then handle the 201 and 301 level stuff in the questions.

    I know 3 of the 4 speakers coming up and you guys are in for a treat with all of them.

    Thanks again


  2. Greg,

    YOU ROCK. Thank you so much for the fantastic analysis, your take aways and all the effort of reposting the future events. Much appreciated! It’s a real thrill to put on an event and discover how it impacted people afterwards. It’s enthusiasm and chutzpah like yours that help elevate the conversation (and the quality of work) here in the Twin Cities.


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