International Advertising Assocation Winter Ball, 2010

On Wednesday evening, December 15th, the who’s who of New York communications got together at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan in 1930’s jazz-age style with a Casino de Monte Carlo theme to finish off the year. As one of the largest media events in New York, companies such as The Wall Street Journal (the Diamond Sponsor), Time, The Economist, Newsweek, National Geographic, CNBC, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Forbes, CNN, France 24, Fortune, and many others attended the Gala. Last year approximately 250 guests showed; this year, it was closer to 350. It was an evening to remember. As a volunteer, one of the perks was foregoing the $460 ticket. I truly was quite upset about this, really…

The first two hours were spent setting-up the event from 4pm-6pm. The registration table was set-up along with two pop-up self-standing posters of the Casino de Monte Carlo in Monaco right at the entrance of the room. Upon arrival, each guest (including volunteers!) was given a complimentary $25 chip to gamble. The Wheel of Fortune and card tables along with a bar brought the night to an entertaining start during the cocktail reception as the tuba player from the band walked throughout the room filling it with the sounds of jazz.

The next room was where all the action took place after the cocktail reception. The doors opened up to a beautifully decorated room reminiscent of the glamorous Casino de Monte Carlo. Sure my gold dress matched the gold chargers at the dinner tables and gold chairs, but at least I fit in with the décor. From 7pm-8pm the credit card only “bank” was available to all guests for the purchase of playing chips. Proceeds went to the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and UNICEF. The volunteers at the bank (myself included) were offered delicious hors-d’oeuvres which consisted of miniature pork chops, liver pate, and caviar—all of which were delectable treats to start off the evening before dinner was served.

Around 8:30pm the volunteers filled in any missing seats at the tables and dinner was served. I sat at the table with employees from Forbes Magazine. Unfortunately, I only spoke with the gentleman to my right, while the rest of the table spoke amongst themselves not escaping from their usual conversations with their co-workers. Nevertheless, the food was delicious, which offered traditional French cuisine known as the “Plat de Résistance”: “Chateaubriand de Boeuf ‘Black Angus’” along with garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. Unfortunately I was too busy cutting a rug on the dance floor with my mentor and I missed dessert! Next time…

By this time the black jack tables were slammed, slot machines lined the entire room, and chips were flying across tables. Jumping, shouting, at wins and jeering along with losses could be heard and seen from across the room. For the rest of the evening we all showed off our dance moves and sang along with “P-Diddy” and the band singing dance type music and top 40 hits from the 90s. By 11pm the 13 highest winners of the night were announced and were awarded prizes ranging from a Tiffany & Co. frame to an iPad. After a few glasses of wine and dancing the night away in our classy 5-inch heels and ballroom gowns, we decided to close up shop at midnight. But not so fast—the after-party was downstairs at the Hotel Bar, “Two E”.

“Two E” offered a more intimate setting with its dimmed lights, couch-like chairs, and candle-lit tables. Here I had my first Weihenstephan beer, which is apparently the oldest beer dating back to 1040. A crisp, light, German beer with a smooth wheat taste complimented the new individuals I met and a stunning evening. Striking up good conversations with the Executive Director of the NY Chapter of the IAA, along with the International Sales Manager from France 24 and the Vice President from Axel Springer (who informed me that they’re looking for interns) was a great way to end the night. This was ultimately a great networking event as I had also met an employee of the NY Chapter of the International Advertising Association, a woman from the Economist, and another member from Argyle Executive.

Events like these no matter how big or small it’s important to remember—you’re only going to get as much out of it as you’re willing to put into it. Remember, always be cheerful (nobody likes a grumpy person) and go all in—unlike gambling, you have nothing to lose. This event is just one of the many chances available to network and meet new professionals in NYC. On May 4th I have also been given the opportunity to volunteer at the 7th Annual Global Marketing Summit at the Time Warner Center in NYC.

So, go all out, slap that smile on your face, and make things happen.

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