NY’s One Club tests unConference concept here

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The One Club is coming to Chicago. Considered by many in the ad world, who consider such things to be one of the most prestigious organizations devoted to spotlighting creativity in the advertising industry, the One Club — for the most part — has been an organization that conducted its business in New York City.

But next month that will change — though not everyone in our peaceful little ad community of Chicago necessarily thinks that’s a good thing. But more on that in a minute.

After four years of holding an event known as the Creative unConference in, where else, New York City, the powers that be within the One Club organization decided it was time to expand the purview of this annual confab and try out the unconference concept in Chicago — the second largest advertising hub in the United States.

Therefore, on Friday, Nov. 2, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Columbia College Chicago, the first-ever Creative unConference Chicago, will unfold.

Exactly what is it that will unfold?  Well, that’s the intriguing part of this conference — or unconference — concept.

The whole point of it, apparently, is to keep the event as unscripted, spontaneous and full of surprises as possible.

Basically, over the course of the day, attendees will gather in a series of sessions, where one of two things is likely to happen. 

Either everyone will sit and stare at each other for the duration of the 45 minutes allotted to that session. Or someone will demonstrate a little leadership ability and simply plunge in and start a discussion that others in the room will be compelled to join.

Stoking the appetite for discussions

The organizers of the Creative unConference Chicago apparently want the discussion groups to try and focus in some fashion on a central theme that is “thinking like a startup.” On its surface, that particular topic doesn’t appear closely linked to creativity.

But, of course, upon further reflection it becomes apparent that any startup and the people doing the starting-up will eventually have to employ some creative ideas if they want the business to take off and flourish.

In its pre-event materials designed to whet the appetite for the discussions the One Club hopes will be sparked at the unconference, the One Club points out that “startups experiment; they collaborate, and most importantly, they ask ‘what if?’.”

While the advertising community is obviously a key target to whom the One Club is pitching its first-ever  creative unconference in Chicago, the get-together is open to any kind of creatively-minded company, as well as futurists, social media geeks and even techies.

So that is what’s coming in a nutshell.

No high-powered industry speakers

The little detail we saved for last is that the One Club is charging $150 per ticket for the pleasure of attending its first creative unconference in Chicago.  Depending on how flush with cash a company or an individual is, that may or may not seem an exorbitant price to pay for sitting in on a series of discussion sessions where everyone is invited to talk and discuss amongst themselves.

For their $150 ticket, attendees certainly won’t be hearing any high-powered, bold-faced big names in the ad industry — or any other industry for that matter. Just the pleasure of hearing themselves talk to each other.

The whole notion of the One Club coming to Chicago with its unconference after four clubby years of doing the event in New York City has caused at least one member of Chicago’s peaceful little ad community to just about bust a gusset via his Twitter account. Yes, we’re talking about none other than the Escape Pod honcho Vinny Warren.  

“How far out of touch is the One Club?” tweeted an enraged Warren. “You’ll notice they don’t ‘uncharge’ $150 to attend their ‘unconference,’” he added in a series of extremely heated tweets.

Does Warren have any right to feel outraged?  Sure.

Could display insights to our creative thinking

But even Warren should know that every organization has to find, uh, creative ways to generate funds to keep itself in business. And the creative unconference (does the event’s name itself seem as awkward and creatively blah to you as it does to us?) concept is just one way the One Club hopes to get Chicago’s peaceful little ad community to help keep its coffers filled.

We can all talk amongst ourselves about the good intentions — or lack thereof — as they relate to the unconference the One Club is bringing to Chicago next month.  But for those willing to shell out the chunk of cash required to participate, the unconference could provide some useful insight into just what kind of creative thinkers there are within the peaceful little Chicago ad community.

Maybe what really has Warren so exercised is his disgust at what might seem to be the New Yorky One Club’s pandering at long last to Chicago’s peaceful little ad community, while trying to fleece  our pockets in the process.

But let’s try and remain calm.  And try to make something of this moment the One Club has provided and really show New York and the rest of the creative world out there what Chicago’s got to offer.

Do we dare? Or do we just throw a hissy fit

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Contact Lewis Lazare at  LewisL3@aol.com

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