ORLANDO — In a short communique sent to members Wednesday morning, the Association of National Advertisers confirmed that one of the biggest annual events for CMOs, marketers and brand stewards — an event attracting more attention than ever from the radio industry — is shifting to a virtual affair.
The decision to go with an all-digital event due to continued COVID-19 pandemic concerns is hardly a surprise to locals: The owner of the venue that’s been used to stage the Masters of Marketing Conference revealed one week ago that it was making “unprecedented” layoffs starting July 31.
On July 8, reports across all Orlando TV stations confirmed that, despite the reopening of Walt Disney World theme parks, Rosen Hotels & Resorts would commence “a substantial reduction in workforce across multiple locations due to the extreme business circumstances caused by the global pandemic.”
The layoffs “impact all properties and departments,” including the Rosen Shingle Creek, the ANA’s venue of choice in 2019 and the locale where the 2020 Masters of Marketing confab was scheduled to take place October 21-23.
Now, it will be a virtual online-only event. How it is staged is yet to be announced.
Some companies including RBR+TVBR parent Streamline Publishing have seen unprecedented success and accolades for this week’s staging of Plein Air Live, described as “a global virtual experience” that takes its entire originally scheduled four-day event calendar and moves it online.
The Masters of Marketing event attracts thousands, and venues such as the Rosen Shingle Creek, designed for business conferences and conventions rather than theme park visitors, have been hit hard by the coronavirus. Meanwhile, smaller events in the range of 200-300 attendees remain on the calendar for October, given the difference in staging such an affair.
The theme of the 2020 Masters of Marketing conference remains “Force for Good. Force for Growth.”
The 2019 event saw iHeartMedia — ANA’s “Audio Partner” — sponsor the entire dinner and entertainment, provided by classic Alternative Rock act Bush. That followed an opening night dinner where ANA Masters of Marketing attendees were treated to a performance from pop-rock band OneRepublic, “courtesy of Westwood One.”
Perhaps the biggest visible sign that Radio was very much present at ANA Masters of Marketing was a prime location for the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB)‘s expo booth, where President/CEO Erica Farber was busily chatting with marketers about the benefits of terrestrial radio. Many Entercom and Katz Media Group executives were present in Orlando.
“We walk away from here with so much work,” Farber said in 2019. “They’ve embraced us here. Clients are interested in talking about radio’s benefits, and we’ve heard from both national and regional brands.”
The Masters of Marketing conference isn’t the only event going to a virtual presentation. The ANA’s 2020 Media & Measurement Conference, originally scheduled for Sept. 23-24 at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, just a stone’s throw away from Beasley Media Group’s corporate headquarters, will also be an all-digital affair.