In uncertain times there's something to be said for consistency. And the Association for Interactive Marketing (AIM) has a stronghold on its events by hosting them at the elegant Metronome restaurant on Broadway. Their latest Dinner and A Deal, sponsored by Doubleclick on Wednesday, April 3rd, brought together interactive marketers old and new. Moderated by the eloquent Larry Chase, publisher of Web Digest for Marketers, attendees listened to the "Internet Face-off: Direct Marketing vs. Branding" viewpoints from Futurebrand Worldwide Media & Entertainment global executive director Alan Schulman, RappDigital founder and vice chairman J.G. Sandom and Doubleclick VP of Marketer Sales Andy Ellenthal.
The lively debate was punctuated by questions from the audience. Radio personality Sam Albert (1010 WINS) commented that his 8-year old grandson Cameron isn't concerned about privacy-he knows his daddy will watch out for his privacy concerns and that if anyone online asks for information from him, he's to check it out with his father first. (Wouldn't the world be a better place if every child had a father like Cameron's?) Sam introduced me to AGI media packaging director Jason Block and nearby Larry Chase and Matt Letterman introduced me to Boston-based FreshAddress.com president Austin Bliss. Now for all those people struggling to maintain your mailing lists, give Austin a shout-they clean up faulty emails.
FutureBrand executive director Alan Schulman, Invision president Jeff Shachtman and Eppend president Tom Burke were enjoying the evening camaraderie after the panel. I enjoyed a lovely salmon dinner with Sunstar e-business division GM Adrian Dessi, who told us about his tenure at Avon.com and how he helped start and run the interactive division. ModemMedia's chairman G.M. O'Connell entertained us for a while recounting his discussion with panelist Jay Sandom. Much of the panel centered on privacy, email, metrics and branding. GM's point was that while the Internet has had a profound impact on the Internet as a branding medium, we should not overlook the importance of the consumer relationship aspects. Jay concurred!
Yes, branding is a vital part of competing successfully in business these days. And the Internet and advertising on this medium is one effective venue for this. But as we've also been made aware of, the best branding in the world doesn't matter if people don't buy the product or service. More AIM dinners will surely address similar topics, to be sure, so stay tuned for their next one in a few months!