Beebs is back with more ADMERICA 2022—this time for a blog takeover.
After attending the annual ADMERICA 2022 conference for the American Advertising Federation (AAF), my enthusiasm for the advertising industry has been reignited. I couldn’t wait to share my experience with fellow trees and our friends of the forest (that’s you if you’re reading this).
Quick AAF history
Ah yes. The AAF, founded in 1905, is the oldest national advertising trade association in the United States. It has 15 district operations, each located in and representing a different region of the nation. Its mission is to protect and promote the well-being of advertising. They accomplish this through a unique and nationally coordinated grassroots network of brands, agencies, media companies, local advertising clubs and college chapters*.
And my quick history with AAF
I first got involved in AAF in 2004 when I worked for an advertising agency in Orlando, Florida. Then in 2014, I reunited with the organization when I became account leader at treetree. Becca Apfelstadt, our co-founder and CEO, encouraged me to volunteer, and I was happy to jump back in. My path went from American Advertising Awards (ADDYs) committee member to various chair positions on the board to the co-president and president of AAF Columbus. It’s been a busy eight years!
Even quicker recap about my history
I hold a dual degree in Advertising and Public Relations from the University of Central Florida (Go Knights!) and I’ve been with treetree for the last eight years. Connecting with people and helping clients connect with their networks has always been my main motivator.
Okay, let’s get into ADMERICA 2022
ADMERICA is the AAF’s annual conference which injects enthusiasm into the advertising industry and fosters the leadership skills of its grassroots network. This was the first in-person conference since 2019 (!!!) and was my fifth to attend. ADMERICA 2022 was held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Conference Center in Nashville, TN June 2-5. Fun fact, I’m a bit directionally challenged, so kudos to the incredible (and very necessary) wayfinding to help get me where I needed to go.
Amazing breakout sessions were offered, and a bustling network of advertising professionals gathered from across the country. And who doesn’t love the live music vibe of Nashville?! Highly recommend.
4 key takeaways from ADMERICA 2022
1. Handshakes and hugs are back!
After a two-year hiatus, in-person conferences and tradeshows are back—and I didn’t know how much I missed a handshake and some good signage. Advertising and marketing professionals from nearly every state gathered with the same passion for the AAF and our industries. A mingle-filled opening reception was held in one of Opryland’s gorgeous gazeboes.
2. Networking is not a bad word
I first met a woman from the D.C. chapter, who is a rockstar mom and a rockstar in her career. She invited me to sit at her district’s table for the national ADDYs, and I was able to meet some new friends from Pennsylvania and New York. If I had a bingo board of the United States, I could have easily filled it.
I enjoyed meeting another woman from Florida who, alongside her full-time career, was a full-time mom and also decided to add school to her plate. She won a national silver ADDY (insert applause). To win a national ADDY is such a big deal; it was so much fun celebrating her. The AAF network continues to inspire me.
Over the years, I’ve loved keeping in touch with past agency colleagues. You build unique journeys together with plenty of inside jokes and moments that not everyone can understand. And to my surprise I ran into my old supervisor from my agency job in Orlando; it had been since 2005 we had last seen each other!
Networking will always be important in professional development and growth. One of the breakout sessions described the evolution of networking and what it means to different generations. This is something to keep in mind as more companies will be led by millennials (spoiler alert: they might prefer text messages to your phone calls).
3. Follow your heart
Coming from a vodka girl, one of the most impactful sessions caught me by surprise—the history of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey. The speaker, their historian and brand ambassador for the last 35 years, immediately captured my attention because he spoke from a place of authenticity and pure knowledge.
The takeaways from this session all ring true for me—and for treetree—and give me hope for the advertising world:
- Tell the truth
- Follow your heart over your head
- Tell a story
(Also highly recommend their Netflix documentary “Chasing Whiskey: The Untold Story of Jack Daniel’s”.)
4. There is no return to normal: it’s a return to better
Mental health is finally getting the limelight it deserves. I went through a personal and professional mental health struggle at the beginning of 2022. Thanks to the support of my personal network and teammates, I dug myself out. Breaking down unhealthy behaviors requires you to create boundaries—and then honor them.
So, of course, I signed up for the ADMERICA 2022 breakout session “How to Keep your Team Sane”. I expected to walk away with tips on how to better support our creative team (#IYKYK) but little did I know she was going to dive into the culture of advertising agencies as a whole. She related an image of “Mad Men” to “what people think advertising is” to depict “what it actually is”—more like an image of crying on your office floor. (Remember boundaries are your best friend.)
It was validating to hear about her personal experiences and use ADMERICA 2022’s national platform to share tips and tricks on how to evolve the culture.
I’m happy to share these are already in motion at treetree:
- Block time on your calendar for focus time (i.e., sanity): calendars aren’t just for meetings. And pro-tip: don’t cancel these blocks because they’re not “real”.
- Plan out your workday: if you see too many back-to-backs, move things around, give yourself breathing room and make sure you have time to eat your lunch.
- Take your birthday off: at treetree, it’s built into our PTO!
- Return to better, not normal: the pandemic showed us ways we can be more efficient, more productive and more flexible while still protecting and prioritizing our mental health.
My special announcement
It was a whirlwind of a trip, and I cherished each moment. I am re-energized in my professional career, my mental health journey and my volunteerism.
While at the conference, I confirmed my role on the AAF district 5 board (district 5 supports Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia). I’ll be the second lieutenant governor focusing on the National Student Advertising Competition (NSAC)—an amazing opportunity for college students to embrace a brand, really dig into the research, define a marketing strategy, build a media plan and deliver the creative.
I believe in paying it forward, and the ability to work with college students on the NSAC thrills me. Our District NSAC will (fingers crossed) be hosted here in Columbus, Ohio, and I can’t wait to show off our creative student community. Cheers to mentoring and raising up the next generations who will be taking the advertising reins.