April 2020

Insights from Steve Pacheco

President & CEO, American Advertising Federation

Hope & Optimism.

First and most importantly, I hope you, and your family and your friends, are healthy and safe. These are truly trying times for all of us.  We’ve seen plans cancelled. Graduations shifting to “dynamic virtual events.” Weddings delayed. We’ve seen hopes dashed as quickly as they are formed.  

So, amidst all of this, I sincerely hope you are making the most of your down time and taking good care of yourself and your loved ones. To live through a Global pandemic makes you really appreciate your health and wellness and your family and your community.

The health and wellness of all of our AAF members is our top priority right now. After all, we’re all in this together.

The many hard decisions that we have had to make and the daily sacrifices we have had to give have all been focused on what’s ultimately right for our AAF Staff, Members, Board, Supporters and Sponsors.  That’s exactly what a purpose driven, mission focused, dynamic organization does.  In good times, and bad, we have to take the long view and know that our AAF community always pulls together and does the right thing at the right time.

My two areas of focus throughout all of this has been Hope & Optimism.

Hope—that everyone has used this time to focus on what’s really important – family, friends, health, and your community.

I hope you are feeling the sense of community that active membership in the AAF brings. Like minded, creative and resourceful people who want to solve problems—not create them. Givers—not takers. And people who help support others rather than ask for help.

In all my years of experience with the AAF, I’ve never seen that sense of community more than now.  t’s amazing to me to see just how AAF Clubs across North America have pulled together to share resources, ideas, and encouragement with each other. Local AAF Clubs have quickly abandoned long term plans and put on “virtual” American Advertising Award shows, more than 100 College chapters and faculty advisors have pivoted to online learning and powered through NSAC competitions (they’ve even learned to love Zoom Meetings!). And AAF Districts have held “virtual” Conferences and District Business Meetings that test their resolve (and their patience). All in the hope that better days are ahead and that things will return to normal at some point.    

I’ve been tested too. In many ways.  But I’ve adjusted and adapted as needed. I’ve made a point of checking on friends (near and far) by FaceTime and Zoom and even with phone calls. Each day, I try and connect with someone I care about and see how they are doing, to give them some hope.  It helps that so many of my friends are from the AAF.
Optimism—that things will get better. I’m not just optimistic, I’m convinced that we’ll come out of all this with a new found sense of purpose and commitment. And a long overdue return to simple kindness and true humanity.  

As an organization, we have remained optimistic. But we’re also realists. The AAF has been busy rescheduling events (Advertising Hall of Fame and ADMERICA, AAF's national conference), overseeing a “virtual” NSAC, keeping our AAF Educational efforts on track and checking on AAF Club leadership and Corporate Partners. We’ve been realistically optimistic during these times, because we know it will get better.

We’ve also partnered with our friends at The Ad Council to help amplify and extend their #StayHome campaign encouraging Americans to observe the Stay Home mandates in place and practice good Social Distancing practices. We’re optimistic that this campaign will drive results and raise awareness of what’s important right now.

This is in addition to all of our work around #AAFIsHereForYou, and reminding AAF Members that the AAF really is Here for You (now and always) and that we want to be both a resource and an outlet for you and your needs.  Note: You can check out all of our COVID-19 news and resources here.

Your AAF has been rocking steady since 1905.  It takes a lot to upturn a 115-year community based, mission focus, purpose driven organization.  And because one of our missions is to “Protect and Promote the Well Being of Advertising” you can count on us to be here tomorrow and all the days ahead, providing a sense of true community and purpose.  I can get behind that.

Even with all of these changes and pivots and cancellations and conference calls, we remain both hopeful and optimistic.  We hope you do too.
Be kind. Be well.

Stay safe. #StayHome


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 Posted: April 2020