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A student’s perspective on entering the American Advertising Awards

I’m all too familiar with the whirlwind that is the American Advertising Awards. You know the process: choose your best work to submit, putting them in the proper categories, printing out your copies, then checking all your entries and information until you practically have it memorized before finally delivering your entries. Oh, and this all has to be done within a few days. But allow me to let you in on a little secret: it’s all worth it.

How did I hear about AAF Central Minnesota?

I was a student at Alexandria Technical and Community College when I was first introduced to AAF Central Minnesota. My instructors at the time, Paul Johnson and Craig Bjerke, told us all about what AAF stood for and the kinds of opportunities they offered to designers both amateur and professional.

How did my school participate in AAF?

At the end of each fall semester, we choose our best work (with no limit placed on the amount) and present them to our instructors to possibly be chosen for submission through the school. We were also encouraged to submit work on our own if we felt it was an example of some of our best work but hadn’t been chosen by our instructors. Once the American Advertising Awards Event rolled around, those who received awards for their work, our instructors, and any supporting friends or family were welcomed to the local region’s awards ceremony. If any of us were lucky to receive something at the district or national level, we would attend those ceremonies as well.

At other times of the year, our instructors also encouraged us to take part in various AAF events like speaker series, the CMYK Poster show, or 24-hour design challenges.

How did I personally decide what work I wanted to enter?

If I told you it was easy, I’d be lying. I treasure each piece I create, and I know I can’t submit every piece I want to. In the end, the pieces I choose are the ones that I find the most eye-catching or beautiful, the ones that most closely follow design principles, and/or the ones on which I used a unique design technique. What stands out from the rest?

I’ve included a few pieces of the work I’ve submitted in the past that took home awards.

Lancôme Magazine Scrap Illustration – Original and Magazine Ad
Gold Award and a Best of Show Award

Efik Girl with a Coral Earring Watercolor Illustration
Gold Award and Judge’s Choice Award

Avani Tea Package Design
Gold Award

Dominican Domestic
Gold Award
Silver Award at the District Level

What have I learned about the show and entering process?

First of all, don’t procrastinate or underestimate what submitting a piece entails. My first year, I thought it was going to be a breeze and quickly learned that each entry required a lot of time, patience, and attention to detail to make sure you’re not only making the piece look good but also that you have all your paperwork correct and in the correct places. I’ve always gotten all my entries done as soon as possible – in school, I had seen too many other students rushing to meet our school’s deadline to get them in on time, and I didn’t want to find myself in the same situation and risk messing up a small detail that could jeopardize my chances of being awarded an award.

Anything notable about the show itself?

It’s an excellent opportunity to see other people’s work, both professional and student, as well as to network with others in the local design community. I’ve met some extraordinary people just because I participated in AAF. Don’t pass up this kind of opportunity! Plus, the hors d’oeuvres are always amazing. #munch

Any final thoughts?

If you still aren’t sure if you want to take part, let me tell you how AAF has helped me along my career path. I’ve included the awards I’ve received on my résumé, and it’s helped me land interviews, portfolio reviews with experienced design professionals, and two internships with the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida (where I’m writing this today).

So is participating in AAF worth it, you ask? Yes. Without a doubt!

Haley Anderson

What’s New for the 2018 American Advertising Awards

What's New for the 2018 American Advertising Awards


What’s New for the 2018 American Advertising Awards?

The core of the American Advertising Award stays tried and true year after year, and it ought to! It’s a robust competition that has been around for years; something good that shouldn’t be messed with, because as they say, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. That said, AAF’s mission is to advance and protect the advertising industry and with that comes the necessity to keep the competition as fresh as the strategies, artwork, and advertising messages are that you strive to deliver to your clients (or professors) each day.  We gathered some tidbits – some old, some new, and others just worth mentioning, to make sure you are in the know on what’s new with the 2018 American Advertising Awards.

For the newbies, a little recap:

The American Advertising Awards are the industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting over 50,000 entries every year in local competitions. The mission of the competition is to recognize and reward creative excellence in the art of advertising. Conducted annually by the American Advertising Federation (AAF), our local competition is the first of a three-tier, national competition. The call for entries for AAFCM’s competition is released in the fall with entries due around, or shortly after, the first of the year. The entries are judged and an award show is held to honor our club’s student and professional award recipients. From there, winning entries move on to the district and then, hopefully, national level to compete with other top-notch work from around the country.

The Award Show Theme

The culmination of the competition is a fun, theme-inspired show.  If you’ve been to AAFCM’s ADDY show in the past, you know we go big when it comes to executing a theme…both in attire and decor. This year, however, we’re taking a step back, and notch up, making the theme all about the work itself. Sometimes less is more and that will definitely be the case this year as we leave our somewhat ridiculous costumes at home and make a special point to honor the American Advertising Awards’ most important guest: the work.

Emerging Leader Award

The American Advertising Federation of Central Minnesota (AAFCM) is proud to announce our Emerging Leader Award. This award, new this year, was created to recognize young professional men and women who are making outstanding contributions to marketing, advertising, design, and/or communications.  Emerging Leaders are those who, though relatively young in their careers, have already proven themselves to be making an impact in their company and for their clients; they are individuals who have begun to further industry standards, creative excellence, and responsibility in areas of social concern. If you know someone who has an exemplary work ethic, pushes the envelope, challenges the impossible, embraces the unknown, and continually innovates, they are worthy of an Emerging Leader nomination (link to website). Emerging Leader Nominees must be under the age of 35 (as of the end of this year), and contribute to the industry in the Central MN community. Like the Silver Medal Award (link to website), each year AAFCM will bestow this honor upon an outstanding member of the central Minnesota community. Emerging Leader recipients are selected by a panel of judges that include community leaders and industry professionals and will be announced at the AAFCM’s American Advertising Awards, along with the recipient of the Silver Medal Award.

New Categories

Most actually aren’t new to the competition, but since you don’t know what you don’t know, we figured they’re worth mentioning because they may be new to you!

There are over 170 categories that fall within 7 divisions! Here is just sampling of them.

  1. Sales & Marketing – includes well-known categories such as packaging, brochures, annual reports, book design, apparel, and direct marketing. Did you know you could also submit menu designs? Yes, menus. And you know you’ve seen some award worthy menus at our local breweries and restaurants.
  2. Print Advertising – this is where newspaper and magazine advertisements land.  They can be any size, single ads or full campaigns.
  3. Out-of-Home & Ambient Media – Guerrilla marketing aka “non-traditional advertising”, installations such as kiosks, art exhibit, trade show exhibit, retail store or an other design and build-out of a temporary or permanent branded environment, posters, and outdoor displays that are delivered to mass audiences on sidewalks, streets, etc. all fall within this category.
  4. Online/Interactive – Did you know your blog could win an award? That’s right there is a category solely dedicated to blogs and digital publications. You can also submit mobile apps, virtual reality (new this year!), websites, social media marketing, or tools and utilities such as widgets.
  5. Film, Video & Sound – this includes movie trailers, television and radio commercials, music videos, sales presentations, podcasts, and even webisodes.  
  6. Cross PlatformAn integrated campaign is defined as a campaign or series of ads, commercials or executions that utilize more than one medium.  So yes, if you’re a total rock star and your campaign spans more than one medium you can gather it all together and submit it as one whole entry here. 
  7. Elements of Advertising – copywriting, infographics, illustrations, still photography, sound design, art direction, computer generated imagery (new!), data driven media, responsive design, voiceover talent, and video editing are just a few of the categories/elements of advertising you can submit.  

2017-2018 Rules and Categories for Professionals
2017-2018 Rules and Categories for Students


NEW this year our all-in-one membership, the Season Ticket, includes attendance to ALL events for one entire year including one ticket to the American Advertising Awards. And since AAFCM’s membership cycle is rolling – which means you are enrolled as a member for a full year from the day you sign up, no matter the time of year, it’s not to late to become a Season Ticket Member! This will save you $$ on entries and gets you into the show!  

There you have it! A little bit of new and whole lot of the same awesomeness for AAFCM’s 2018 American Advertising Awards. Whether you have attended the ADDY’s in the past and can’t wait to celebrate our local creatives and their amazing work again, are a past entrant and have submitted your work to the ADDY’s (and maybe even won!), know next to nothing about it but someone, somewhere told you how much fun they had at the ADDY’s and you’re wondering what it’s all about, or some sweet combo of those reasons, we look forward to seeing at this year’s show. We’ll all bask in the glory together celebrating the work and tremendous value local advertising agencies, companies with top notch internal marketing departments, and students that are the rising stars in the industry bring to our community.

2014 American Advertising Awards Recap


AAFCM would like to thank the students, college instructors, agencies, organizations and individuals who entered their work or volunteered their time and resources to make this year’s competition such a success. When over 385 entries were submitted – the most in recent history – it further proved that central Minnesota’s advertising industry is a force to be reckoned with. AAFCM is always here to support this creative world and your alter ego!


If you haven’t yet, take a gander at our Facebook page to browse through photos of the night as well as videos of the show intro and judge’s special awards. As you may know, the fine folks at Guytano Magno Photography set up a photo booth and took a smattering of photos during the show… the link to their online album will be ready soon and when it is, we’ll share it on our Facebook page.

A full list of winners and PDF of the winners book is on the event site:


So You’ve Won An Award, Now What?!

If your entry won a Gold, it will be automatically forwarded to the district competition with fees paid by AAF Central Minnesota. You don’t have to do anything!

If your entry was awarded a Silver, you have won the right to compete at the next level. In order to officially forward your Silver-winning entry, please fill out this online form and submit the appropriate forwarding fee ($75 per professional entry and $20 per student entry). Requests and payments to forward Silvers to the 8th District Competition must be received by Monday, February 3.

The District 8 judging will take place in mid-March and an awards event will be held in Minneapolis in early April (date/location TBD). For more details, visit


Extra professional awards are available for $50 each. If you’d like an extra, please fill out the order form and submit payment via our online form by Monday, February 3. Please allow 3-4 weeks for delivery of those awards!


If you have feedback on AAFCM’s American Advertising Awards we’d love to hear it. Food, venue, show, entry system, promotions, theme, etc. Help us to make next year’s event an even bigger success. Email us today!

Gaslight Creative Receives Top Honor at 2013 American Advertising Awards

ST CLOUD, Minn., Feb. 11, 2013 – Gaslight Creative, an up-and-coming, full-service, boutique-style advertising agency in St. Cloud, MN, took home an agency-high 12 awards, including the coveted “Best of Show” ADDY, at the 2013 American Advertising Awards Show on Saturday, February 9 at the Paramount Theater in downtown St. Cloud. The annual awards competition was hosted by American Advertising Federation of Central Minnesota and celebrates excellence in advertising.

View full press release.

2012 ADDY Call For Entries

By now you should have received your 2012 ADDY Call For Entries poster in the mail. This years entries are due on January 20, 2012 and the ADDY Award ceremony will be on Friday, February 17, 2012 at Ritsche Auditorium, SCSU. Viewing of work, hors d’oeuvres & drinks at 6:30PM. Awards show and ceremony begin at 8PM.

The latest information and entry details are available here.

2011 ADDY Call For Entries

Its that time of year again! The ADDY® Awards are the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting over 50,000 entries every year in local ADDY competitions. The mission of the ADDY competition is to recognize and reward creative excellence in the art of advertising.

Instructions for entering are available now and more information will be available soon.