Lord Matthew Scheckner, Global CEO of Advertising Week
Yes, he is in fact a “lord”. But that is a whole conversation for another time.
Lord Matthew Scheckner is the Global CEO of Advertising Week, a platform where businesses and brands are discussing what he calls society’s “real issues” in a collective of conferences, seminars, special events and live entertainment in New York City, Mexico City, London, Tokyo, Sydney and Johannesburg.
But prior to bringing together international professionals for Advertising Week, Matt fostered an entrepreneurial drive and work ethic that spanned from washing dishes, to the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and starting an his first agency during the emergence of sports marketing.
If you’re looking for inspiration, advice and wisdom from a master networker who has created a global community, bringing together many tens-of-thousands to congregate internationally, this is a conversation you’ll want to listen carefully.
In this conversation, we discuss Matt’s super interesting career trajectory to Advertising Week, the surprising reason he focused on advertising, his thoughts on corporate responsibility around data & privacy issues, the importance of opportunities to connect on a human level with other people, and how Advertising Week has become a platform for business and social impact.
Topics discussed in this conversation include:
6 countries, heading into 16 years in NY
Graduating from Emory in 1986 as a professional breeding ground
Originally planning to be a lawyer
Interning at the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in the 80’s
The emergence of “sports marketing” and treating sports as economic development
“The Commission on the Year 2000” – Matt’s first job out of college, under NYC’s Mayor Koch
Maximizing utilization of the waterfront
Tax implications of the Meadowlands
Becoming the first Executive Director of the New York City Sports Commission at age 23
Winning the 1998 Good Will Games
Building the olympic sized pool in Eisenhower Park
The downfall of these programs with Mayor Giuliani
Matt’s first business venture in sports marketing
Dabbling in a multitude of projects
The ideation for Advertising Week
Matt’s business model
Radio City events
A secret apartment in Radio City, The Roxy Suite
Proposing the first Advertising Week event to Mayor Bloomberg in 2004
The first opening gala at Gracie Mansion
Changing from non-profit to for-profit
Matt’s partner, Lance Pillersdorf
Expanding to London, Tokyo, Mexico City, Johannesburg, to a global network
Year-round content business
The importance of exclusive locations for AW’s special events
Highlighting the social and experiential part of life
How to grow an international network around the globe
Getting quoted in The Wall Street Journal
Matt’s motivation and drive
The challenge to create authenticity in each international location
Leveraging the AW platform to talk about important “real issues”
Emma Stone on mental health and wellness
Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue and the United States Surgeon General discussing the opiod crisis
Social Impact topics: Health & Wellness, Diversity & Inclusion, Sustainability, Responsible Production
Matt’s perspective on how social impact is emerging in businesses
Unilever and sustainability
Brands that are doing good are good for business
Corporate responsibility around advertising and over-consumption of media
Data and privacy issues
How Matt measures success for himself and his business
Valuable advice for entrepreneurs
Matt Scheckner is CEO of Stillwell Partners, a New York City based boutique consultancy. Stillwell is best known as the producer of Advertising Week, the world’s largest advertising / marketing / media industry summit. The Week is conducted in New York City, London, Tokyo, Sydney and Mexico City and launches in Africa in 2019. Under Scheckner’s leadership, which dates back to 2004, the B2B event has evolved into a vibrant, global tent-pole event and is the world’s pre-eminent annual platform uniting the ad tech, brand/client, creative, marketing and media communities. Scheckner’s signature recipe of blending thought leadership with one-of-a-kind evening experiences for the entire industry ecosystem propels Advertising Week. The annual festival-style event is now in year fifteen (15) in the USA, going into year seven (7) in Europe, year three (3) in Tokyo and just a few months ago launched successfully in Mexico City and Sydney. Planning is well underway to launch in Africa in 2019 and Advertising Week’s related year-round content initiatives, notable AW360, continue to grow.
Stillwell’s origin is derived from Coney Island. For 20+ years, on the historic corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, Stillwell has produced the annual Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest and ESPN broadcast.
Scheckner has served on the Board of Governors of the Friars Club and stands alongside such luminaries as Milton Berle, Frank Sinatra, Ed Sullivan, and Henny Youngman, as winner of the “Friar of the Year” - - a distinction he was awarded by his fellow Friars in 2011. He is active with many causes, including the launch of War Child in the United States, Comic Relief UK, London’s Roundhouse and Tuesday’s Children, which honored Scheckner as their 2013 Gala Honoree. Scheckner also served as Chairman of the World Trade Center Memorial Communications Advisory Council and led a public campaign that generated $300 million towards construction and completion of the World Trade Center Memorial.
From 2006-2008, Scheckner served as Consigliere at Yahoo!, where he produced the industry’s first digital Upfront, “Broadband on Broadway” in 2007 and managed the corporation’s relationships with Madison Avenue. He also conceived and produced major corporate experiential programs around the world - - from Cannes to Pebble Beach - - and led the company’s support of the Tribeca Film Festival, an early harbinger of the modern-day explosion of creative content streaming on the web.
For more than a decade (1995-2006), Scheckner owned and ran Empire Sports & Entertainment, a New York City-based marketing and strategic consulting firm. One of Empire’s largest clients was Radio City Productions. Under Scheckner’s direction, Empire produced major events outside the Music Hall including the 1997 opening of Arthur Ashe Stadium, Pepsi’s 1999 Centennial Celebration, which featured Ray Charles, Riverdance and the Rolling Stones and several Super Bowl Halftimes.
Scheckner also played a central role in shaping the Music Hall’s overall strategic plan including its acquisition by Madison Square Garden and landmark renovation in the year 2000.
Empire also served as SFX’s marketing agency developing strategies to secure more than $200 million in sponsorship across SFX’s live sports and entertainment properties. The company also partnered with Ken Sunshine and the Nashville-based Opryland to produce “Always . . . Patsy Cline” Off-Broadway. The show ran for a year at the Variety Arts Theater.
Prior to incorporating Empire in 1995, Scheckner served as Counsel on Sports Marketing for the flagship office of Hill & Knowlton, a global public relations firm where he founded the firm’s sports and entertainment practice.
From 1987 through 1994, Scheckner served as Executive Director of the New York City Sports Commission, a not-for-profit organization founded during the Koch administration. During his tenure with the Commission, Scheckner was directly responsible for successful bids for the 1993 Olympic Congress of the USA and the 1998 Goodwill Games. He saved the Jerome Boxing Club in the South Bronx from eviction and secured City funds to renovate the Club; fulfilled New York City Marathon founder Fred Lebow’s request to secure the entire Verrazano Bridge as the Marathon’s starting point; closed Central Park for the Tour de Trump cycling race; stopped City government in it’s tracks by bringing Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton and Larry Holmes to City Hall; led New York City’s bid to host 1994 World Cup matches; and successfully secured City and Community Board approval to stage an Indy Car Race in lower Manhattan.
Prior to assuming his post with the Sports Commission, Scheckner served as a Policy Analyst with the Mayor’s Commission on the Year 2000, a blue-ribbon planning group, where he was responsible for the Commission's work on demographics, economic development, education, transportation and water front development.
Among Scheckner's other professional honors, he was selected as a member of Crain's New York Business "Forty Under Forty" at the age of 28. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Marketing at the New York University Management Institute, and was appointed coordinator of NYU's annual Summer Institute on Sports and Event Marketing in 1995. In 1998, Scheckner was appointed to a similar post as an Adjunct Professor of the Columbia Graduate School of Business. Globally, Scheckner has lectured in Sao Paolo with Pele on sports marketing, among other venues.
Scheckner resides in Port Washington, NY with his wife Ila and their children, Benny and Eliza. Sadly, his dog Lambeau passed in 2010 but lives on in memory. He is a graduate of Emory University with a Bachelor of Arts. Regarding personal pursuits, Scheckner has the distinction of having been one of two severely injured softball-playing Friars during a 2009 outfield crash in Central Park; he is an avid golfer; and competes with pride in the Friars Pool tournaments, having finished as high as 6thplace.