by Ara C. Trembly

It may surprise you to know that as a young and impressionable guru, I was a big fan of “monster movies,” particularly those old Universal Studios classics featuring Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula and The Wolf Man.

Probably my favorites among those, however, were the films that gave us not just one, but two or more monsters hopefully fighting each other. Even in TV reruns, these “monster mash” films, as they were known, were a virtual smorgasbord of delicious monster mayhem, especially for a 10-year-old stricken with “monster mania.”

Yet, while I thrilled at seeing Frankenstein’s Monster take on the Wolf Man and Dracula, the “mash” films’ casting was more than a little perplexing. For example, in one such epic, Bela Lugosi, known on stage and screen as Count Dracula, played Frankenstein’s creation (even the makeup couldn?t cover up that distinctive proboscis), while in another, Boris Karloff (famed for his role as the Monster) played a mad doctor looking to make his own monsters, opposite another actor playing the Frankenstein Monster. That wasn’t enough, however, to keep me away from the ghoulish fun.

As an adult and still a fan of gruesome zombies, vampires and lycanthropes I tend to have a slightly different view of these films. I now realize that the plots of the “mash” films were weak attempts to throw together monsters whose film stories really had very little in common a Romanian count, a British werewolf, and a revivified collection of cadaver parts from Germany would seem quite the unlikely trio. At age 10, it all worked for me, but as we grow in sophistication, it seems we demand more, even from our cherished icons.

Bringing together marginally-related works certainly did present challenges for the filmmakers, and in our industry, bringing together marginally-related but distinctly different cultures at a technology conference presented its own difficulties witness the first year of the combined ACORD LOMA Systems Forum in Las Vegas last month.

Numbers-wise, this conference was a roaring success, with 2,450 attendees, exceeding the combination of last year’s ACORD conference attendance (1,600) and LOMA Systems Forum (650). The conference brought together two previous shows that had been primarily p-c insurance (ACORD) and life insurance (LOMA) domains. “We were only expecting 2,200,” said Rick Gilman, vice president of Pearl River, N.Y.-based ACORD. “We were thrilled.”

According to Ann Purr, second vice president, Information Management, at Atlanta-based LOMA, the combination “made it easier” for those who had previously attended both shows by allowing them to reach their target audiences at a single event.

On the show floor, some vendors I spoke with were enthusiastic about the increased numbers, especially those who operate in both the p-c and life spheres. Reaction from others, who play mainly in one sector or the other, was mixed.

“Is ACORD in the standards business or the trade show business?” asked an executive for a p-c software maker, noting that the additional attendance had done little for his business.

Another p-c software executive saw little difference in the conference from previous years of attending ACORD’s event: “It’s ACORD. There are more people, but it’s still ACORD.” This was my impression as well ACORD doing business as usual, with LOMA the seemingly subordinate stepchild.

But Ms. Purr argued that both entities benefited. “The bottom line is that I still think it was the right thing for ACORD and LOMA to come together.” She conceded that the sponsoring groups “still have some learning to do” in terms of meeting the needs of often-divergent audiences.

Did this first attempt at insurance technology culture merger work? Much like the attempts at monster culture merger at Universal Studios, the answer depends on whom you ask. Those who already had a foot in both sectors were happy. Those who had previously attended only one of the conferences tended to be less jubilant.

If both audiences are to have their needs met, however, it is clear that some work remains to be done. The jury is still out.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, June 18, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.