Taking Home the Gold

The American Advertising Federation of Tuscaloosa held its Addy Awards Gala on Thursday, February 21, 2019, in the recruiting room, at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

With the 2018-19 year being the chapter’s fiftieth anniversary, the evening’s theme was “Gold.” This included gold item posters designed by Mark Barry, gold balloons, and gold crown décor. The event was even emceed by Eli Gold. (View gala photo gallery.)

Guests gathered at 6 pm for a cocktail hour where they could view all the awards submissions and take guided tours of the stadium. A plated dinner of beet salad, smothered chicken with grits, and dessert was provided by Southern Food Service. Eighty guests were in attendance for the gala.

Once dinner was served, Mr. Gold began with the story of how AAFT President Michael Nix convinced him to be a part of the evening by a clever pitch about being a good American. After confirming that Mr. Gold was indeed a good American that believed in the constitution and free speech, Nix said: “Good, because I need you to give a free speech to our local American Advertising Federation chapter.” Mr. Gold was intrigued.

The presentation portion of the evening followed the national format with a video presentation. It included interviews with the judges as well as the winning student and professional pieces. (Watch the video presentation.)

Each year AAF Tuscaloosa gives three special awards to deserving professionals who have served our club and community in different ways. These special awards include the Ad Person of the Year, the Dan Kilgo Service Award, and the Silver Medal Award. The 2019 recipients were recognized between the student and professional presentations.

The Ad Person of the Year Award recognizes that individual member who has shown dedication to and has made great contributions to the club, as well as showing exceptional advertising work during the past year. The 2018 recipient Rebecca Royen presented this award to Kellie Hensley. Hensley is the Marketing and Communications Manager for The Center for Advanced Public Safety. Her first AAFT leadership role was as our communications chair and because of her dedication and drive, the board voted to make this a Vice President’s role within our leadership team. During the 2018 Highway 2 Hale Bike Ride, she exceeded everyone’s expectations with her work ethic and design skills and was integral to the success of the event. She not just a member of AAF Tuscaloosa, she’s a leader.

The Dan Kilgo Community Service Award acknowledges an individual from the greater Tuscaloosa area who has done much to serve the interests of the entire community. The 2018 recipient Angie Hughes presented this award to Michele Massey. Massey is the owner of Tucker Massey Marketing and a long time AAF member, serving on the local, regional, and national levels. Her passion for AIDS advocacy and funding has led her to serve on the West Alabama AIDS Outreach Board of Directors, be an active member of the Mystic Krewe of the Druid, a familiar face at Ajani groups, and serve on the committee for West Alabama Food & Wine Festival, benefiting the local Red Cross. She is beloved by all who know her and she truly has a heart of gold.

The Silver Medal Award, this is the highest honor bestowed by AAF Tuscaloosa and the winner is not required to be a club member. The winner must have a strong record of achievement over a continuous period of time and their success may have come in any area of advertising. The winner must be known as a person of integrity and be active in organizations dedicated to human or social welfare. The 2016 recipient Tracy Sims presented this award to Linda Bonnin. Bonnin has experience in several industries, including 22 years in higher education and 19 years in leadership positions. She currently serves as the Vice President for Strategic Communications at the University of Alabama where she implemented the University’s first integrated marketing campaign – Where Legends Are Made. She also serves as a director on the AAFT board and a member of the Tuscaloosa Bicentennial Celebration planning committee. She is a strategic leader, experienced marketer, and award-winning writer/editor/producer.

Amidst this celebration, Michele Massey led attendees in a moment of remembrance for Greg Branch who tragically passed away on February 9, 2019. In addition to being a leader and mentor in the advertising community throughout his career,  at the time of his death Branch was serving alongside Massey as a co-chair of the National American Advertising Awards. He is survived by his wife Ann and their children Benjamin, Grace, and Samuel. He will be greatly missed.

At the end of the night, students received thirteen silver awards and nine gold awards in addition to the Judges Choice and Best in Show awards. Professionals received twelve silver and ten gold awards in addition to the Judges Choice and Best in Show. (View the 2019 Winners book.)

Special thanks to Tucker Massey Marketing for donating all of the Student Trophies.