Yes, back from Times Square and the 2009 Advertising Research Foundation’s Annual Convention. What to say? Well, the ARF bills itself as “the premier foundation in the advertising industry for creating, aggregating, synthesizing, and sharing knowledge.” As Peggy Lee sang, “is that all there is?”

This year’s conference, “Rethink 2009” stated that “the world is imploding”, and that it was “time to move away from mind-numbing numbers.”  Yet that’s not my experience from three days there, not at all. The world was no different each morning I rose and ate my cereal, with the stages filled (save a few exceptions such as Tuesday morning’s presentations on the role of people in the process & Wednesday’s chat on culture from Crispin Porter) with most speakers leading talks on panels, analytics, and measurement tools. The Expo, where vendors (people like W5) plied their was nearly entirely populated by sw companies, black box providers and guys squeezing human emotion onto a data sheet after hooking electrodes up to one’s eyes and/or head. Huh?

Who’s talkin’ to and about strategy? Creative interpretation of study findings via human analysis? Innovative ways to present data?  Not here at the ARF… easier to sell a “product” I guess. Maybe one of the reasons so many lousy products come to market every year.

I’ll wait until the AAAA’s Account Planning Conference where the kids are alright!