Sightings at AHAA’s 23rd Annual Conference in NYC

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Death was the subject around this year’s AHAA’s conference, which kicked off Wednesday night with a scary opening reception at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Times Square. Under the provocative title “Is Hispanic Advertising Dead?” more than 500 ad and media executives were in town to discuss a little bit of everything; from the eternal debate of English vs. Spanish to the death of the 30-second commercial.

This blogger has been busy not only mingling and partying but also doing some not-so-serious reporting; and though I still haven’t found anybody in a compromising or shady situation (we still have tonight’s Awards Show) here are some highlights:

–Edoardo Chavarín, the brilliantly funny founder of NaCo, delivered an engaging keynote address to formally open the conference Thursday morning. Chavarín spoke to a mostly bilingual, bicultural audience about what moves him and where he gets inspiration for his hilarious T-shirts designs. Despite the audience’s best laughs, I’m still not sure everybody understood the references to Amado Carrillo or grasped the real meaning of Chimengüenchón, Chido One and Pipiris Nais. In any case, the conference co-chairman, Aldo Quevedo, smartly pointed out that Mr. Chavarín’s humor is not easily palatable for Politically-correct America.

–Tom McGarrity, the former Univision co-president of network sales, attended the Telemundo-sponsored luncheon on Thursday. Out of his traditionally impeccable suits, he was casually dressed when I spotted chatting with Steve Mandala. Both execs laughed at my suggestion / recommendation that Mr. McGarrity should replace Mr. Mandala as the sales chief of Telemundo. (Not a bad idea when you think about it).

–Despite my rantings about Spanish-language television, Telemundo served me lunch, just like everybody else! (Thank you!)

–Univision scored big points with this blogger for a fun-filled evening at Madam Tussauds Museum House of Wax, where I had a fantastic time in the company of Larry King, Jlo and Woody Allen. (All of them seemed to be very engaged in my conversation, as none uttered a word back at me.)

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–English is not coming to your Univision screens any time soon. The network’s CEO, Joe Uva, made it clear Friday morning that the company “is 110% committed to Spanish-language.”

–From the always smart Isaac Mizrahi (not the designer, but the Brazil-born multicultural director from Sprint: “Hispanic advertising is not dead. What is dead is the low hanging fruit and the easy dollar [to be made from this market].”

–The conference is still on, closing tonight with the 9th annual Advertising Age Hispanic Creative Advertising Awards and Gala. So stay tuned!

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