Promax crowd small but appreciative

Gathering still talks promotion, but with some differences

Promax&BDA, the convention where promotions, on-air graphics and music pros meet to dissect hype and branding nuances, was a much-changed show last week in Los Angeles, reshaped by a tight economy and industry consolidation.

Though final figures weren't available, about 3,500 attended, down from about 4,200 a year ago, with about 70 exhibitors, down from 100 or so in 2001. Still, an unflappable Promax chief Glynn Brailsford noted, for example, a graphics-related seminar where "there wasn't a huge crowd, but there was a hugely appreciative crowd."

There were few of the hands-on station promo producers that populated the convention in the recent past, although top promo execs for some large station groups—notably Belo, Hearst-Argyle, Gannett and Sinclair—and a handful of broadcast and cable networks were there, Brailsford said.

Once, workshops were held for station reps so syndicators could explain how producers and stations could jointly promote a new show. Now, Promax plans four regional conferences in upcoming weeks for Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago and New York, where some studios including Paramount and Universal will join to do smaller versions of those workshops. Promax will present a "best of" version of the full convention, reprising such panels as a presentation about optimal uses of promos by Lee Hunt.

Promax drew some heavyweights, including Jamie Kellner, chairman/CEO of Turner Broadcasting System, who received BROADCASTING & CABLE 's Innovator of the Year Award for a career that includes building Fox and The WB networks.

Kellner recalled that, when he helped start the Fox network in 1986, "our instinct was to join the big-network club and look and act just like them." After outside marketers persuaded Kellner and colleagues to differentiate the net, Fox made its mark, particularly with younger viewers. "When they saw the Fox logo, they didn't want to see an NBC-style sitcom."