Promax 2015: Twenty Years of Reflection

Upon arriving back in New York after Promax 2015, I realized it has been 20 years since my first Promax in Washington DC.  With the exception of some Promax’s I missed while focusing on commercial work in the late 90’s, I feel like I have been a witness to the modern evolution of the organization. I have various thoughts on some of the plusses and minuses of the changes.

Promax is in Good Hands

Steve Kazanjian appears to be a solid leader and appears to understand that the nature of the organization is the art of marketing.  That is not to say that some of the prior leaders did not, but there have been various times in the past where I have felt that the organization was exploitive and only concerned with generating dollars.  It’s refreshing to see that the value is returning.

The JW Marriott is the Conference’s Best Venue 

It is much easier for me personally when the location is in New York, but assuming the 2016 conference is at the Hilton again, I will be missing the JW Marriott.  The Marriott is excellent all around, from the rooms to the conference areas to the lobby bar, and the location at LA Live is an added bonus when I want to grab a meal or get a drink away from the hotel. 

Promax Should Consider Closing Down the Hotel

I openly admit I was one of the first to advocate going to the venue without necessarily going to the event (and subsequently realized that was a mistake), but there are far too many non-participants taking advantage of the venue without participating in the conference. I think it would behoove Promax to try to put an end to it.  Realscreen, for instance, has closed down the Washington Hilton to only Realscreen attendees. Promax should try the same thing if possible.  I realize that it may be impossible at the JW Marriott given the combination with the Ritz Carlton, but Promax should consider it for New York.

Promax is No Longer a Must for Voice-Over Agents

While there are still plenty of voice agents attending the event, several no longer consider Promax to be the priority it once was.  Of the five largest promo departments in the country, I only saw six agents of a possible 15, and only four were actually attending the conference.  Agency parties were also dramatically curtailed, making me think that the talent agents are seriously evaluating how Promax fits within their yearly budgets. 

Digital Platforms Still Haven’t Embraced Promax Yet

While there were representatives from Hulu and I am guessing some from Netflix, Amazon, and Crackle, the underrepresented digital platforms still have not recognized that they will need to do better and more creative internal marketing if they are going to build the platforms for their shows that the broadcast and cable networks have.    As of now, the digital networks appear to solely rely on production companies and trailer houses to manufacture their campaigns, which I do not think is sustainable.  

The Networks Still Do Not Appear to Have a Social Media Plan

Social Media was discussed, but I am still not sure that the majority of broadcast and cable networks have plans beyond throwing spaghetti at the Wall of Social Media and seeing what sticks.  I may not be privy to some of the greater problems and concerns, but I still get the impression that “social media” is viewed as “new” when it should be apparent that social may be just as important as traditional broadcast and print promotion.