I’ve been working as an “ad gal” since before many of our Brunet-García employees were born. My first agency job came in 1984, doubling as a copywriter/Girl Friday in a small, midtown Atlanta advertising agency, now defunct.
We focused on B2B accounts, primarily in the apparel industry. Most of our clients were headquartered in Europe, with our Atlanta-based team handling all U.S. planning, buying, creative, and PR. Honestly, it was a blast, and the Europeans never skimped on budgets, travel or meals. In many ways, I was Peggy Olson, 20 years post-“Mad Men” era, though of course, I didn’t know her at the time.
Money flowed freely back in the 1980s, even at a small agency. But with all our European trade-shows, rich photography budgets, and memorable double-martini lunches, for some reason, we never invested in the awards competitions. It’s possible that the work just wasn’t as good as I remember.
My first introduction to the ADDY® Awards (I know, I know: “American Advertising Awards,”) sponsored by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) came long afterward when I took a job on the client side for a brief time. We entered the ADDYs, but never went any further than the District AAF competition. It wasn’t until we set our sights on a national ADDY at Brunet-García that I started paying close attention to this three-tier competition and the truly inspiring creative work it attracts each year, including this year’s 40,000-plus entries.
This past weekend, after nearly 35 years in the industry, I attended my first national ADDY Awards show in one of the most unique, creative, and inspiring cities in our country: New Orleans. My complaint at the local and district competitions has always been that it’s usually more about the party than the work. I’m proud to report that the national award show seems to get it right when it comes to honoring the work and the talented creatives behind it.
The show ran long, just over three hours, showcasing so much truly excellent professional and student work that it was a bit exhausting to absorb it all. And though this year we didn’t bring home any gold for the projects that advanced from the AAF Fourth District competition, our interactive public service campaign, 100 Plates, scored a national Silver ADDY!
We left the hall at the historic Roosevelt Hotel, now flying Hilton’s Waldorf-Astoria banner, tired and hungry but inspired by the creativity, passion, and innovation it takes to build an award-winning campaign in our technology-enabled, social media-driven world. We particularly salute our peers down-state at Alma DDB in Coconut Grove, Florida. Alma became the first multicultural agency ever to take Best of Show at the national AAF competition for their humorous campaign “Spanish Lessons” for the Netflix original series Narcos.
One of the highlights of the night for Jorge and me was that 100 Plates (a creative collaboration with Castaño Group and Jacksonville writer Jack Twachtman, conceived and executed in just three weeks!) had a brief but prominent cameo in the opening show reel, standing toe-to-toe with so much fine work from the most renowned advertising agencies in the world. With 11 national ADDYs to our name (7 Golds!) prior to Saturday, our tally today stands at 12. I can assure you, we’re keeping very high company. And we’re keeping score.
Now, about that Cannes Lion …