By: Gretchen Carswell [MDB Art Director]
Going into its 10th year, Advertising Week DC promised to be part retrospective and part looking forward. What I saw, in both instances, was inspiring.
This year's ADWKDC kicked off with a new event called "CREATE." This was a day-long session where students and young professionals teamed with local nonprofits to create advertising campaigns designed to solve the respective problem each nonprofit had. The seven teams worked with industry mentors throughout the day to create strategic marketing plans, integrated advertising campaigns, social media outreach and more. While most nonprofits had a similar goal of boosting revenue, each team went at it creatively and in completely different ways. Walking the halls at Facebook DC headquarters, where CREATE was held, and listening to the brainstorming sessions, I am confident that the young people I saw will become the creative directors and leaders of tomorrow. (The photo above was taken during the CREATE judging.)
One ADWKDC highlight was the annual Cannes event hosted by USA Today. While the city folk curse the rush-hour trip out to Tysons, the chance to network and catch up while getting to see the best of the best in advertising is well worth it. We got the opportunity to honor Karen Riordan as she accepted the AAF Silver Medal Award. Looking back at Karen's accomplishments and the stamp she has made on the advertising community, it's an award greatly overdue. As for the Cannes work, I challenge you to find anyone there that wasn't singing along to "Dumb Ways To Die" or trying to come up with their own "Oreo of the Day" idea. My favorite part of this event each year is the drive home as I try to think of ways to "borrow" what I've just seen and incorporate it into the client work I have sitting on my desk.
The main ADWKDC sessions can best be summed up as evolving - not the sessions themselves but the industry. It's clearer than ever that this industry is changing almost daily. Every electronic device offers up a media opportunity. Every static banner or billboard begs for something more dynamic and creative. Even building creative teams now is seemingly part of an algebraic equation design to provide for the most efficient players with the most creative ideas. Kind of like "Moneyball", but for advertising.
The sessions made it clear that business as usual can't be business as usual. If you aren't thinking about the growing digital space, the always-changing ways to reach your audience without ever running an ad, or even the idea of corporate social responsibility, you are going to get left behind. Over and over, we saw that the public, or portions of it, have a bigger voice now. Everything we do needs to shift to accommodate the shifting trends.
So while looking back is always great, except for some of the bad hairstyles I saw in the retrospective photo books, looking forward is exciting and inspiring ... and the only way to succeed in our ever-changing industry.