AAN is Sold On the Retail Advertising Conference

Chicago XPO Brought AAN to National Advertisers' Attention.

Last week in Chicago, AAN hosted its first-ever booth at the Retail Advertising & Marketing Association’s Retail Advertising Conference (RAC) XPO.

The show drew more than 1200 retail advertising and marketing executives, advertising agency representatives, media partners and shopping center professionals. A wide range of existing and prospective advertisers visited the AAN booth, including representatives from Best Buy, the Musicland Group, Ames, Home Depot, J.C. Penney, Modell’s, Radio Shack, Wal-Mart and Wolf Camera.

According to AAN Marketing Director Adam Ebbin, the AAN booth attracted a lot of interest on the trade show floor. Ebbin says that several delegates were attracted by AAN’s exhibit backdrop, which featured the covers of more than 60 AAN papers. “When people saw the backdrop, they pointed to their hometown weekly and said, ‘That’s my paper!'” he says. “We explained that there are similar papers just like their hometown alternative all across North America, and that they could easily purchase advertisements nationally.”

The booth was staffed by nearly twenty volunteers from AAN members such as the Advocate Weekly chain, Chicago Newcity, Chicago Reader, LA Weekly, Nashville Scene, Seattle Weekly, Shepherd Express Metro, The Village Voice and Westword.

AAN provided RAC attendees with a package that included a copy of the new AAN directory, as well as AWN and Ruxton media kits. Many also walked away with a handful of alternative papers and an assortment of premiums, like promotional wall clocks that were donated by New Times, Inc., and Creative Loafing, and gym bags provided by the Nashville Scene. Meanwhile, volunteers collected contact information from all of the delegates who stopped by the booth; the information will be distributed to both AWN and Ruxton.

“RAC is a great forum to educate retailers about alternative weeklies and build awareness,” says Ebbin, who credits AAN Marketing Chair Art Howe with being the driving force behind AAN’s participation in the show. “We are definitely planning to return next year.”

Westword Publisher Amy Cobb, who worked the booth, says the XPO provides an opportunity to introduce AAN papers to advertising executives who need to learn more about our business. To illustrate, Cobb recalled a situation where two young, hip advertising execs from Wal-Mart stopped by the booth for a half-hour or so. “Those guys will be the ones to go back to their boss and say, ‘We should try the alternative press.'”

Cobb suggests that all AAN papers that deal with national advertisers should consider attending the next RAC XPO. “I think it is important for us to be there as a united front.”

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