CREATIVE HEROES: My Advertising Friends

28 02 2016

My sweetie, Steve Davison won a lifetime achievement award at the Annual Advertising (ADDY) Awards.* And BAM…it hit me afterwards. I’ve now started my new series on Creative Heroes, which is about someone living a fully creative life and not only was my sweetie a creative hero, but as I watched the intro video of past winners, I realized they were all creative heroes of mine. As I watched the show and saw brilliant, beautiful, touching and funny work, I realized I was in a room full of creative heroes. That award show and that evening was a love fest. My advertising peeps have somehow married design, writing, marketing, business and have turned it into a career. We actually get paid for this! It is an industry that I am proud to be a part of. It is the filter though which I see the world.

The night of the ADDY Awards was about honoring creativity. It was about those in the business that show up with their A game. As a friend said in the introductory video, “good is the enemy of great”. That’s really a hard thing to do. We get bogged down with life, people who don’t understand, and all the other excuses we come up with, when we settle for good enough.

Maybe because it’s hard to continually push yourself that the advertising people I know live by the philosophy, “work hard and play hard.” I’m invigorated when I’m with my tribe. It’s a multigenerational tribe; with friends who go back to the Mad Men era to 20-somethings who are fearless in their brand new careers. As my sweetie said in his acceptance speech, “the business may change technically, but it doesn’t change creatively. It’s not the tools that matter, it’s the people.”

The lifetime achievement award Steve received was a surprise to him, but I knew about it. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was that I kept the secret. Our table was filled with family and industry friends. These are friends that he gets together to watch football with, and they are also past AAF-BR club presidents and lifetime achievement winners. Our table was jokingly called the Mt. Rushmore table because of its collective age. But that table was also filled with a lot of creative wisdom. As I progress through this new series, I’m realizing a hallmark of living a creative life is surrounding yourself with creative friends.

I’ve written about my sweetie before. We met 30 years ago when he was the hot, tv commercial director in town. He knows every aspect of film/video production. He is an artist with the camera and I’ve heard him say, “it’s like painting with light.” One of the things that drew us together as a couple is the history we shared in the advertising world in our southern city. One of the things the South does really well is storytelling. And that’s really what advertising is, telling a story.

Living a Creative Life
Steve’s creativity is not left at work. He is a talented furniture maker. Our home is filled with pieces he’s built. He’s renovated our master bathroom and built a new deck in our garden. He is also a remarkable cook. I’ve got the extra pounds to show for it from our six years together. His dishes are not only delicious, the presentation is also carefully considered. A perfect evening for us is sitting outside on that deck with friends laughing and storytelling, and eating a great meal that Chef Steve has prepared and paired with the perfect bottle of wine.

I am so thrilled that Steve was honored by his peers. I’m also honored to be reminded by how much I love my creative tribe. We are all creative heroes.

Connections: Steve pointed out in his acceptance speech that he came back from Viet Nam and started his career in 1970. That was the same year that his father won this same lifetime achievement award. A few years later Steve was a volunteer producer for the ADDY Awards at the long-gone Aubin Lane Dinner Theater. I realized that I was also in attendance at that show. My father produced his own commercials and I was thrilled as a young teen to go with my Dad to my first ADDY Awards show. There is just one degree of separation in Baton Rouge.

* It’s called the E. A. “Pete” Goldsby Silver Medal Award and it was awarded by his peers in the American Advertising Federation–Baton Rouge (AAF-BR).

•creative art
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And the Award Goes to…

29 07 2012

The National ADDY Awards

It’s a real achievement to win one of these big boys.

I attended the National AAF ADDY Awards Show in Austin this summer. An ADDY is to the advertising industry what the Oscar is to show business or the Grammy is to the music industry. It is arguably the hardest advertising competition in the world. To win a national ADDY means you’ve won your local and district competition. By the time you’ve won nationally, you’ve won three times and beaten out the best in the entire country. It is filled with the industry heavy weights—the world’s largest multi-national advertising agencies and global brands. Those Superbowl commercials whose budgets are the size of small countries…that’s the kind of competition …and that’s who’s there at the awards show. I can’t stress for me what a BFD this was. That Darth Vader/Volkswagon commercial—it won Best of Show—which was the eve of the young actor going into the hospital for very serious surgery which was what the the agency talked about  in accepting their award. 

I was there because it’s part of the national AAF Convention and the club I’ve been president of this past year was being honored at the convention. A few of us from AAF-BR were able to attend and there were three companies from Louisiana that won ADDYs. It was great to be able to WOO HOO for them and we may have been a small group but we were the loudest.

One Louisiana agency won three Gold ADDYs for spectacular photography for a campaign they produced. I coincidently sat right behind the two heads of this agency—one of the largest agencies in the state and have a really great body of work that I sincerely admire. They hadn’t seen me and I didn’t really know if they even knew me, though we had met on occasion. As they got up to accept their awards, I thought, how cool it would be for me to take their picture accepting their awards and then I can give it to them and they can instantly tweet and Facebook it!

There are hundreds of people in this impressive room and it’s dark. When they returned to their chairs, I got up and squatted down beside their aisle chair, quietly introduced myself and asked them if they wanted me to text them their photo. Of course they did and were gracious and appreciative.

Then as I got up to leave, I leaned back in my high heels instead of forward and before I knew it I was flat on my ass with my legs in the air…yes at this most prestigious awards show, there I was splayed out in the aisle. I scrambled up as quickly as I could and assured them I was sober.

The exchange when I got back to my seat.

I had to call them when I got back home over a question about a press release. When I introduced myself, the agency owner said, “Connie, I know who you are.”

Yep, I’m pretty memorable. I’m in advertising and that’s my spin on it.