Waking up in the city that never sleeps – NYC Advertising Week 2018

Written By: Sarah Galley

November 3, 2018

This October, I had the privilege to travel to the big city and attend New York Advertising Week. As a third-year student in the Advertising and Marketing program, I was ready to put my studies aside to head abroad and gain valuable knowledge from this conference. New York Ad Week consists of countless seminars and networking events that run from morning until late afternoon. My SaGE Global Experience in NYC led me to many unique sights and I took away just as many valuable learnings as I did photographs.

Travel Day and Exploring the Big Apple

On Sunday morning, I arrived at the Toronto Island Aiport ready to embark on my trip abroad to the city that never sleeps. I took my first step onto an international flight and before I knew it, I had already arrived in New York City. My classmates and I all stayed together at an artist-designed AirBnb that was could not have been anymore picture-perfect. After taking more than a handful of photos, we ordered a New York-style pizza to our apartment before a night of exploring the Big City. We kicked off our night by heading to one of the biggest and brightest sights in Manhattan, Times Square. The bright lights brought so much truth to the statement that the city never sleeps. After wrapping up photo-taking in Times Square, we got snacks and headed back on the Subway to New Jersey.

#AWNewYork Seminar Highlights

My classmates and I attended eight seminars throughout our time spent at New York Advertising Week. The seminars I attended varied topics, including the future of the advertising industry, social media trends, and various brands and agencies. Each seminar provided me with real-time insight into what issues are currently impacting the industry, and how they will impact my career moving forward. Below are highlights from three of the seminars that sparked my interest.

Day One—Marvel and The Power of Podcast Storytelling for Brands


“It’s hard to market audio in a visual world—the best way to market podcasts is on other podcasts.” – Amy Fitzgibbon, CMO at Stitcher

This seminar was one of the most insightful ones that I attended at the conference. In class, we have discussed podcasts and the impact they are currently having on consumers and advertisers. This seminar really elaborated on the storytelling capabilities of podcasting, and the impact it can also have on advertisers and brands. Something I found particularly interesting was the best way to advertise a podcast, is actually on another podcast. Podcasts have become a mini-industry of their own, and what can’t be addressed on a screen is done through audio. Knowing it is a growing industry, I am looking forward to how podcasts will play a role in my career.

Day Two—Memeology 101: The New Language of Cultural Ideas


“A gene is the basic unit of DNA. A meme is the basic unit of ideas.” – Joe Federer, Brand Strategy at Reddit

This seminar resonated particularly well for me as I am a millennial entering the advertising industry. The culture of memes that exists on social media is a phenomenon that continues to grow in presence. This seminar touched on the brands that are trying to enter the space of memes on social media, and what they are doing well or not well. Memes tend to be self-deprecating in nature, and brands who are engaging in this are trying to discover ways to do this while still being able to sell a product.

Day Three—The Jump with Will Smith: One Iconic Storyteller’s Journey of Reinvention & Connection

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“The whole reason for storytelling is a combination of joy and expansion.” – Will Smith

My classmates and I found ourselves frantically running through Pennsylvania Station on Wednesday morning aiming to catch the subway—ensuring we had seats for Will Smith. It was the presentation you didn’t want to miss on day three of Advertising Week. The discussion dove into Will’s journey in creating his own online presence and brand on YouTube, and how the platform has redefined storytelling. With his witty humour, he delivered a compelling discussion on digital branding in the most entertaining way possible.

New York City Experiences

Central Park

On our second night in New York City, my classmates and I decided to treat ourselves to a dinner in one of Central Park’s classiest restaurants. We ate at Tavern On The Green, which overlooked Central Park and had a very classic atmosphere. We spent the rest of the evening watching the sunset on a rock in the middle of the park—a sight I’ll never forget. The Ad Week convention centre was located just a few blocks away from Central Park, and in between seminars we found ourselves enjoying lunch in the park.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Exploring the MET was by far one of my most memorable experiences from New York City. The museum had a lovely rooftop that overlooked Central Park and the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It was a gorgeous sunny day when we visited the museum, and my classmates and I took the opportunity to take new LinkedIn pictures in front of the view. We explored Ancient Egypt and Heavenly Bodies exhibits before the museum closed at 5pm. Afterwards, we took a stroll down Madison Avenue and visited several boutique shops.

World Trade Exhibit

On our final night in New York, we visited the Downtown core of the city after spending most of our time Uptown. We boarded a subway headed the opposite way and found ourselves at the World Trade Centre. Arriving at the Memorial was surreal—the impact of the events on 9/11 still felt very heavy as we looped the entire pool. To end the trip off on a positive note, we spent the evening at a rooftop patio overlooking the city reminiscing on new memories.

The Takeaway

Travelling to New York City with my classmates was an incredible experience. It was my first time travelling outside of Canada and I could not have asked for a better way to do that. The SaGE Global Experience Program gave the classmates that have become some of my closest friends and me, the experience of a lifetime. I was able to become aware of various issues that are impacting the state of the advertising industry that I was not previously aware of. My experiences at the seminars brought up topics that I look forward to diving into and discovering more about on my own time. This Global Experience provided me with beneficial insight and personal growth, and I could not be more grateful for the experience.

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