December 2020

Insights from Steve Pacheco

President & CEO, American Advertising Federation

The Year That Was….

It would be really easy to write a year-end wrap-up column here on just how “challenging” 2020 was, or how “unprecedented” these “uncertain” times were.  How they represented the “new normal” and how our work is either “essential” or not.

Or how “We are all in this together"…but I won’t.

What I will do is write about how I saw 2020 unfold—and how incredibly proud I am of the AAF and the AAF Staff, AAF Members, AAF Clubs, the AAF Council of Governors, our Corporate Members, and our sponsors and supporters for coming through this year not only intact—but thriving!  And how we are set up for whatever comes next. 

The fact is that the AAF had some great successes in 2020—a year when some were ready to write us off. A year in which more than 55,000 Advertising jobs were eliminated.  A year when sports were cancelled and Advertising spending ground to a near halt at times.  A year where ad agencies, in-house marketing teams, production companies, media outlets and content creators closed their doors.  

We’re a proud organization that dates back to 1905, so we’ve seen a few rough patches and managed through crisis before. This group endures and survives and keeps on ticking. No matter what. In a year unlike any other we’ve ever endured, we managed to remain relevant and resolute by staying focused on our members’ needs, our clubs’ health, and our partners’ businesses.

Consider how responsively this organization pivoted and adapted to a global pandemic, national civil unrest, and widespread economic impacts. There was no playbook or plan for how to withstand such forces. And yet we persevered, and made solid progress.

Here is a high-level list of what we accomplished together in 2020. We had big wins in each of our five key strategic areas:

  • Events & Experiences
  • Education & Lifelong Learning
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Government Affairs & Policy
  • Club Services & Membership

The AAF list of significant accomplishments for 2020 is extensive, and covers every area we serve:

  • Pivoted AAF ADMERICA  National Conference to an all virtual Conference.
  • Added 10 new AAF Corporate Members.
  • Added 8 new AAF Board Members —diverse backgrounds / new perspectives to AAF Board.
  • Voted in 4th consecutive female AAF Board Chair— Lynn Lewis, US CEO of UM Worldwide—and named Tiffany R. Warren, EVP, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Sony Music Group—as Vice Chair.
  • New 2021 NSAC  Sponsor = Tinder. Brand, AdTech, Connections App.
  • Council of Governors AAF Membership Survey—with Action Plans.
  • 50 New Most Promising Multicultural Students  named in February.
  • Successful “virtual” Student Advertising Career Conference —419 attendees.
  • Relaunched / Reengineered AAF Internship program—“Campus-to-Corporate”
  • 19 sponsors for Advertising Hall of Achievement—exceeded revenue goal.
  • 1000+ registrations for Advertising Hall of Achievement – triple our live event.
  • Outstanding Advertising Hall of Fame  Class of 2020 introduced.
  • Launched all new Mosaic10  honoring Best Multicultural Moments.
  • Launched APEX Speakers Bureau—over 100 vetted Multicultural speakers.
  • Stood up new software resource—Mosaic Inclusion Tracker.
  • 6 all new HBCU’s to start Advertising programs in Spring 2021.
  • 2 new strategic partnerships (Communo & The Room).
  • Added 2 new AAF Clubs and 1 new Ad 2 Club.
  • Cranked up AAF Marketing and Media Relations efforts.
  • 96 positive AAF press coverage mentions +12 AAF podcast appearances.
  • National promo campaign for American Advertising Awards  entries.

Your AAF is working hard to get set for the New Year and what’s ahead. I’m optimistic and confident that 2021 will be another banner year for your AAF as the Advertising, Marketing and Media business rebounds and recovers!

We welcome the challenge of whatever the future holds, and we are up to the task.

Thank you for your support of the AAF and our World Class programs.  We could not have made it through this year without your loyalty and support.

I hope you, and your family and friends, have a safe and healthy and wonderful Holiday season and a Happy New Year!

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 Posted: December 2020