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5 Takeaways from the ADMERICA National Conference

June 21, 2022


Authors: Liz Chatterton + Jillian Duff

Howdy, partners! It’s your incoming AAF Greater Rochester VP (Liz Chatterton) and President (Jill Duff) here—and we’re coming at you fresh off our trip to Nashville, where we attended ADMERICA, the American Advertising Federation’s annual conference.

While we were there we experienced great speakers, wonderful workshops, a Jack Daniels tasting (highly recommend the honey whiskey), and immense pride as we cheered for our local club members who won big in the national American Advertising Awards. 

Shout out to Silver winners DS+CO, Brandtatorship, and John Myers Creative Imaging. And the amazing Gold-winning students from Syracuse University: Victoria Lin, Jessica Mastorides, and Rachel Hayashi 🎉

One of the biggest benefits of attending was definitely the quality time we spent talking shop with our friends in AAF’s District Two. D2 is made up of AAF chapters across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, DC.  

Here are 5 of our most notable takeaways from the programming and those conversations: 

1. We can all harness the power of inclusive leadership and collaboration

Diversity and inclusion initiatives in tech and advertising continue to be prioritized, and as they gain momentum, inclusive leadership is something that’s helping organizations make real progress. Our industry is at a pivotal moment, and as we heard from keynote speaker Jeff Marshall, the Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging at UM Worldwide, it’s on leaders to do much of the important and necessary work.

Jeff used a great analogy, saying, “Sometimes you go to a diner and order blueberry pancakes and they put the blueberries on top and they roll-off onto the plate. And to me, that’s inclusion. If you want a blueberry, you can cut the pancake and be very intentional about picking one up on your fork and taking that bite. 

Belonging is when they fold those blueberries into the pancake, into the batter. Right? Because what that does is it actually changes the flavor of the pancake. No matter how you cut it, you’re going to experience that flavor every single time. 

Belonging is really about making sure that those individuals you’ve brought into your business actually act as a natural part of your ecosystem. Not just as a quota you need to fill, or a number; they are a meaningful part of the flavor of your organization.”

A great way to address this is by asking, “Who’s not in this room right now? Who’s not sitting at our table?” And never assume you know what your various groups need, always ask the communities directly. Jeff suggested your employee education, onboarding process, and job descriptions as the places to start applying that knowledge. 

2. It’s okay (and awesome) to bring club members into committee roles

Joining our board of directors is a longer-term, somewhat formal commitment, but it’s not the only way to get involved and we sometimes forget it’s good to pull in non-board members to help us steer committees and shape events. 

Curious how judging and scoring works? Our American Advertising Awards Show committee could be perfect for you. Want a behind-the-scenes look at how it all comes together? Our R/AD Week committee might be right up your alley. 

This is something we’re going to try to do more often, so if you’re up for making your mark in the upcoming year, definitely let us know! We’ll find a great way to plug you in.

3. The post-pandemic world is not the same — and clubs must adjust

In talking with other club leadership, it became abundantly clear everyone is doing a bit of a reset. Now that most people are working from home at least part of the time, after-work happy hours may not be the most preferred type of event. Some clubs are trying coffee and breakfast meetings, or virtual lunchtime programming.

We jotted down a bunch of ideas and will be exploring them with the rest of our team as we plan some exciting new events and revamp some existing ones. And if you have ideas or preferences you want us to be aware of, don’t be afraid to give us a shout. This is your club and we’re definitely open to suggestions and trying new things.

4. We could—and should—be having more fun with special American Advertising Award categories

We attended a workshop all about exchanging American Advertising Award show ideas and it came to our attention that other clubs are adding special local-only categories like “Work your mom would be proud of”. One club even joked about the “SADDYs” for work that never saw the light of day thanks to the ideas getting cut internally or by the client. 

Last year we added the Mosiac and Up & Coming Awards. This year, we’re adding the Impact Award, and don’t be surprised if you see another new category or two in our 2022 show! We did receive some great recommendations from those who took the post-Award Show survey this year.

5. It’s a great time to join AAF

There’s a high likelihood we could find ourselves in a recession soon, so making connections and networking should be a top focus for the people in our industry, and our organization is ideal for such things. 


We’re talking opportunities for networking, training, jobs, hiring, new business, leadership and professional development, sponsorships, and brand visibility, as well as award show entry fee discounts. Not to mention, membership in AAF is an excellent benefit to offer in companies’ benefits packages.

Beyond our local AAF Greater Rochester chapter, there are 150 other local clubs and over 40,000 professionals that are part of AAF. It’s just a great group to be associated with. 

And there you have it! Thanks so much for reading. If you want to chat about any of these things, Nashville hot chicken, or any AAF-related items, definitely reach out and we’d be happy to set up some time.

Hope to see you at an event soon!