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ADMERICA learnings and a new club year

June 19, 2023


Summer greetings from your incoming AAF Greater Rochester Vice President, Alyssa Bileschi, and incoming President, Liz Chatterton.

It’s been a hot minute since we were in the 96-degree heat of St. Louis, Missouri, for ADMERICA, the American Advertising Federation’s annual conference — celebrating trailblazers of the last year and catching up with peers from District Two and beyond as AAF Greater Rochester kicks off its 2023-24 term. And before too much time passes, we want to share some of our learnings and a few highlights to get you as excited as we are. 

We attended informative workshops and sessions with other club leaders from the 150 local chapters around the country, heard from an incredible keynote speaker (more on that in a bit), went up in the Gateway Arch, visited the legendary Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales of Super Bowl commercial fame, and felt overwhelmingly proud during the American Advertising Awards where we saw multiple local club members and students win on the national stage.

National winners
Shout out to our national Silver Award winners DS+CO, Partners + Napier, and Brandtatorship. And huge congratulations to the amazing Student Gold and Silver-winning creative teams from Nazareth University and Syracuse University. 🎉We’re extra proud to report that Syracuse University also brought home a Student Mosaic Award this year, recognizing excellent DEI-focused work. 

ADMERICA learnings
We spent a lot of time hanging with and learning from our colleagues in AAF District Two, representing clubs and creatives in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, DC. And we’re thrilled to have Rochester representation at the district level again next year with Joseph Mayernik stepping into the role of D2 Governor.

Overall, it was a fantastic couple of days. And we came home with lots of fresh ideas and a renewed sense of excitement for the upcoming year. Chatting with so many people from other clubs definitely helped us realize that the challenges AAF Greater Rochester faces are not unique. We are certainly not alone in navigating the post-pandemic world of professional organizations.

Right-sizing our approach to events
In one workshop, we discussed how events and programming need to evolve because peoples’ schedules have changed significantly in the last few years. And while there are a lot more questions than answers, everyone agreed that it’s a great time to take a beat and ask membership (that’s you!) what they’re looking for from the club moving forward. Would more daytime events be better? Breakfasts? Luncheons? Are socializing and networking opportunities more appealing than speakers and educational presentations? Is it OK to bribe people with doughnuts (short answer: always)? With this sea of questions also came a laundry list of ideas for future AAF Greater Rochester events — possibly centered on what AI means for the creative industry, bringing in a local photographer to offer free headshots, or hosting something specifically for families.

You can tell us what you want by taking our super quick and easy Annual Survey. And we really hope that you will, because we want to get even better, increase attendance at events, and have a stellar year.

Award show updates on the horizon
There was also a lot of talk about the need to update the rules for entering Awards now that so many creative teams are spanning the country — if not the globe. This is something that’s happened as many employees moved to remote work. Additionally, many agencies now work with clients who aren’t located in the same region. One club even shared that their Best of Show winner wasn’t local to their area (but the client was), and everyone in the room was quick to voice their interpretations of ye olde rule book.

As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times, they are a-changing.”

A keynote about culture
Just about the only thing not changing is what motivates people to buy things. The absolutely amazing keynote speaker, Dr. Marcus Collins (former Head of Strategy at Wieden+Kennedy New York and Clinical Marketing Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan), gave us all a great new framework for understanding culture. And, more importantly, how we can leverage it to inspire action. 

He makes a very compelling case for the idea that people don’t make a purchase based on what the things are. But rather, because of who they are and who they want to be. We highly recommend checking out his new book, For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be. Unsurprisingly, the hundreds of copies they had for sale in the lobby sold out immediately after his talk. So we both bought it online and will just have to live with the fact that it’s not a signed copy (#sad). After hearing him speak, we couldn’t not read it. And it didn’t disappoint.

If anyone wants to borrow one of our copies, has thoughts on event strategy, needs St. Louis recommendations, or wants to get involved with our efforts to make AAF Greater Rochester one of the best chapters in the country, please reach out and let us know! We’d love to collaborate.