Advertising Week now has a fourth destination—Havana.
Stillwell Partners, the organizing firm behind Advertising Week, will launch its first Advertising Week: Cuba x Creativity on Nov. 28, and it will run until Dec. 1. The announcement comes after JetBlue, a founding partner of the event, kicked off the first commercial service to Cuba from the U.S. in over 50 years.
"This is a unique moment in history," said Matt Scheckner, CEO of Stillwell Partners. "When the door to go to Cuba opened a crack—the embargo is still in place; we're in a very interesting transition period and as an American, there has been 53 years that we have not been able to go to Cuba—we went down there right away to see if an event was possible."
While adding Havana to the Advertising Week roster doesn't make sense when considering major advertising hubs—New York, London and Tokyo host the other three weeks and make up the three largest ad markets in the world—the city makes sense "as a place for a celebration of creativity," said Scheckner.
Fast Company is also partnering with Stillwell Partners for Cuba x Creativity, serving in a curatorial role for the event's thought leadership program. "It's hard to imagine a destination with more intrigue than Havana," said Fast Company managing director and editor Bob Safian in a statement. "We look forward to a completely unique experience sure to incent our creativity, inspire and enlighten."
Marty St. George, executive vp of commercial and planning for the JetBlue, said the company "is thrilled to be leading the way to Cuba."
"We are proud to partner with Advertising Week and Fast Company in this inaugural celebration of creativity in Havana," he said.
JetBlue is providing airfare to the event's 400 attendees, which Scheckner said will be capped "at a relatively modest number."
For those who wish to attend the event, the process is "turnkey," according to Scheckner.
"All the planes leave from Fort Lauderdale, and once you get to Fort Lauderdale, everything is included," he said. "Registration includes flight, hotel, food and beverage, visas, all the other required government paper work—everything is done turnkey."
Famed Cuban musician Isaac Delgado will be chairman of the event's local organizing body. Delgado was part of a delegation from Cuba that quietly attended Advertising Week in New York last fall to see what the event was like before approving its extension to Cuba. Planning for the event began in June 2015.
Havana's Hotel Nacional de Cuba will serve as headquarters for Cuba x Creativity. A daily breakfast will take place at the Parisién Cabaret. The thought leadership seminar program will be held at the Salon 1930, which has long served as the home of the Buena Vista Social Club. Other event venues include historic destinations like the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso and The Tropicana.
Attendees of Cuba x Creativity will get an immersive experience, according to Scheckner, including Cuban arts, culture, cuisine, music, and cigars and rum.
"We think Havana is a phenomenal destination," Scheckner said. "I'm thrilled that the fourth host city for Advertising Week is one that is a real wild card. It's the antithesis of a big advertising and media market, but it's actually a destination that's a great home for creativity."
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