To Latin America and Beyond: Why Advertising Week Is Heading South

Latin America is a growing hotbed of activity for the business community, particularly in the wake of easing relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Now, Advertising Week, the world’s biggest gathering of ad, technology, business, entertainment, and marketing professionals, is setting its sights on the region. Ad Week announced the addition of events in both Havana, Cuba and Mexico City, Mexico to its roster of global showcases that have taken place in the U.S., London, and Tokyo over the last 12 years.

The move is all about expanding horizons in an increasingly digitally-connected world, said Ad Week’s organizer, Stillwell Partners CEO Matt Scheckner.

“It’s very much about paving the way forward. In any business, people are looking for ideas, looking for answers, looking to solve the problems that keep them up at night. They’re looking to learn from other industries where they can borrow strategies, ideas, inspiration,” he said.

The event in Havana is set to take place November 28 through December 1 and will feature thought-leadership discussions on cultural exploration. In the sense that Cuba is a destination and not a global hub for the media and advertising industries, Scheckner likens the event to Cannes Lions, an annual international festival in France for creative professionals.

“That’s not an advertising and media market either, it’s a destination. We believe that for the Americas, Havana has that potential and we’re very excited about it,” he said.

Meanwhile, planning for Mexico City’s 2017 debut is well underway. Scheckner said Ad Week’s “signature blend” of big-name business leaders and industry insiders will be part of the guest list as he vowed to deliver on the “high bar we have set in New York, London, and Tokyo.”  The fifth global edition of Ad Week, planned in conjunction with Grupo Expansion, will be hosted in Mexico City’s Polanco district and will feature day seminars and cultural evening events.

One of the biggest conversation starters at Ad Week events across the world has been the media industry’s overhaul as companies struggle with figuring out the best ways to monitor digital content. Scheckner said there’s more money in the pipeline than ever before.

The problem for the ad industry is figuring out where those ad dollars are going. It’s a conundrum that’s creating a challenge for big players like print and television-network behemoths that have traditionally enjoyed high-dollar advertising models.

“When you have network shows, for example, moving to a streaming environment, look at the rise of Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon. What does it mean to have a generation that’s raised on non ad-supported programming? That’s going to mean something. So, I think one of the things people look to Advertising Week for is how do we figure this out,” he said.