Ad Fair packs a busy schedule

February 25, 2010
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This week’s Ad Fair ’10, which culminates in the local ADDY Awards, features a workshop about marketing and advertising for small businesses, along with receptions and an online auction.

The purpose of Ad Fair is to market the West Michigan industry that markets West Michigan’s industries, according to Clare Wade, president of AAF West Michigan, sponsor of Ad Fair ’10.

“People will be getting the opportunity to talk directly to professionals about social media, marketing, public relations — all that stuff,” said Wade, who is the proprietor of Clare Wade Communications.

A highlight for business owners begins on the Ad Fair’s second day. At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday — following registration and refreshments starting at 7:30 a.m. — is a morning-long workshop: “Advertising: The Engine for Small Business — A Marketing Essentials Workshop” at The Dominican Center, 2025 E. Fulton St. The workshop features Biggby Coffee founder & CEO Bob Fish as keynote speaker.

Other sessions cover topics such as strategic marketing on any budget; social and new media; measuring the impact of advertising; and public relations.

Business owners also may be interested in the online auction of advertising and marketing services, including billboards, airtime, copywriting services, ad space and creative services. Find the auction at theadfair.com.

The week begins 4-8 p.m. Tuesday with the Creative Crawl, when local advertising agencies, design firms and production studios throw open their doors for prospective clients and the rest of the public. It’s a chance to see the inner workings of production and creative work as well the notoriously cool offices for which advertising agencies are known. Each organization’s specialties and work will be on display.

This is the first time that Stevens Advertising, 190 Monroe Ave. NW, which was founded 93 years ago to serve Grand Rapids manufacturers, has participated in the Creative Crawl, President Allen Crater said. A board member at AAFWM, Crater said the open house will welcome both prospective clients and college students who are studying advertising, marketing and public relations, to the North Monroe office where it relocated about a year ago. It’s a chance for the company to present its story to a new audience, he noted.

“Our model is a little different. We are still a full-service agency,” he said. The agency served Amway for the direct sales giant’s first 25 years, into the 1980s. Today, its client list spans health care, hospitality, banking and retail.

“A lot of agencies in town either focus on just interactive or just design. There are folks that do just media or just branding and strategy. We really do all of those things,” Crater said.

Other firms participating in the Creative Crawl include Extra Credit Projects, Grey Matter Group, Hanon McKendry, Highland Group, Lawrence Productions, People Design and The Right Place. A map is available online at theadfair.com.

The Ad Fair concludes with Thursday’s ADDY Awards. The local ADDYs are the first step toward the American Advertising Federation’s national awards, chosen from among 60,000 entries from 200 member advertising clubs and 15 districts across the country.

The local awards will take on a new twist this year, said Geoff Shirley, creative director and partner at The Highland Group. He is a member of the event’s planning group.

“The event is going to be held at The Intersection this year. We’re pretty excited about that,” Shirley said. “Our industry … likes to have some fun. It’s a venue that suits that well.”

He said the event is less formal than in the past, using a “rock-n-roll” theme. Displays of nominated work and winners will be presented throughout the evening, rather than in one long session. More than 500 people are expected to attend.

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