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The Ad Club Evolution: Marketing Moments

New York City Skyline

Every industry needs a network organization to connect and give its members a voice. Advertising has many such entities based all around the world, however few will have had quite as interesting a history as the Ad Club of New York.

Since its formation in 1896, the advertising industry has come a long way. Thousands of agencies – many of them clustered in New York City – now have locations across the globe, specializing in everything from virtual reality to influencer marketing. Big brands that once dominated the 20th century with mega budget radio, newspaper, poster and TV campaigns have changed course as consumer preferences shift; online is evolving with the likes of Airbnb, Amazon, Netflix and Uber altering much of modern existence.

Over the years, The Advertising Club of New York has experienced its fair share of change as well. Originally known as the Sphinx Club, it was created by a group of eight men in 1896 who met on a regular basis to share ideas and thoughts on the business that sustained them. The group met once a month at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel which, at the time, was located where the Empire State Building now stands.

In the early 1900s, the group changed its name to The Advertising Men’s League, then in 1915, the league incorporated under its current name, The Advertising Club of New York. Women were finally accepted as members 57 years later in 1972.

At the end of World War I, the Ad Club began teaching an advertising and marketing course to train veterans who were looking for opportunities within the industry. Over time, the class evolved into an introductory course offered to anyone interested in getting their start in marketing and advertising. The class is still offered today each fall and has given more than 50,000 people their first glimpse of the business.

Over the years that followed both World Wars the club prospered, but by the 1960s and 1970s it had begun to lose its way as its membership fell to an all-time low by the late 70s. And of that membership, many had little or nothing to do with advertising or marketing, instead using their membership to access the club’s restaurants and bar in its Murray Hill clubhouse.

The former Sphinx Club needed to emulate a phoenix, such was its dire need of a reboot. In the 1980s, the Club underwent a major overhaul in order to get itself back on track and reinvigorate itself, a move which proved successful. By the time it entered its centennial year in 1996, it professed that its programs and events were “stronger than ever.”

BOARD OF ADVISORS

Carl Fremont MEC Global

Mari Kim Novak Rubicon Project

Rick Song Rocket Fuel Inc.

Lee Nadler MINI USA

Marie Devlin

Laurel Rossi Rauxa

Sandra Sims- Williams Publicis Groupe

Ron Fierman Digital Pulp

Eliza Esquivel Microsoft

Brad Jakeman PepsiCo

Joseph Bihlmier American Express

Kristen Comings L’Oreal Paris

Colleen DeCourcy W+K

Casey DePalma Unilever

Michael Duda Bullish

Lori Erdos Smithsonian Media

Brad Elders Sports Illustrated

Scott Falzone Google

Olivia Farr BBDO

Pete Favat Deutsh North America

Heide Gardner Interpublic Group

Connie Garrido CGC Advisory Group

Jeremi Gorman Amazon

Elyssa Gray Betterment

Deleela Jones Pandora

Kathleen Kayse Yahoo

David Lawenda Facebook

Kris Magel Initiaitive

Lauren Newman Beauty Time Inc.

Tricia Nichols Consumer Engagement

John Nitti Verizon

Ian Parmiter

Barbara Pelham AOL

Audrey Siegel

For the Ad Club, the 120-year anniversary is just another milestone of the journey to support one of the world’s most exciting sectors in arguably the marketing and media capital of the world.

This content is republished from The Drum's Marketing Moments book, available to purchase online.

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