Upfronts and Waffles

WGN Upfront Ad

WGN Upfront Ad: “AN UPFRONT THAT’S BETTER THAN WAFFLES. BTW – Waffles are still yummy even if you don’t know what an upfront is.”

If you work in advertising / media in NYC, you’ve probably noticed the WGN ads for their Upfront. If you don’t work in the industry, you might be wondering what the hell an Upfront is and why anyone would think WGN’s is better than waffles.

Simply put, an Upfront is an event that a company which sells advertising space organizes to entice agencies and direct clients to buy ads “upfront” for the rest of the year. It’s their big dog and pony show to introduce all the big changes and offerings they have in a swanky venue which usually ends with a performance by a well-known band or musician like Alicia Keys (who does a lot of these) and an after party. They cost anywhere from half a million to over $2 million to put together, and every major network (ex. Nickelodeon, BBC, MTV) as well as many other media companies (ex. Google, Yahoo, AOL) host them annually; digital media events are called “Newfronts”.

The guest list typically includes executives and buyers from major advertising and media buying agencies like Zenith Optimedia, Deutsch, and Wieden + Kennedy. Because there’s an Upfront event every night during this time of year, the parties are big and the bars are flowing with free booze to attract as many industry heads as possible. Jack Myer’s Media Business Report even has an entire Upfront section devoted to reviewing these events in case you can’t make them.

The company I work for hosted our first Upfront last month and I had the opportunity to work on event logistics which is why I haven’t been as active in the blogosphere lately. You know how much I love organizing events like WordCamp: Developers and the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon, so it’s no surprise that I had a blast working on the biggest company event of the year!

Now that the event is over, I’m back to eating waffles. Waffles are still yummy though. True story.