Artistic rendering of a graduation cap

The New Wave of Creatives: Judging AAF Student ADDYs

Agencies and schools across the US start their new year by gathering submissions for the coveted AAF American Advertising Awards. Beginning locally the awards are judged with hopes of moving on to the state level competition and eventually the national stage. Locally the awards generate excitement among agencies and in-house teams. It’s a time to rally around work raising the bar in the market. It’s also a huge opportunity for students eager to get recognized and make their leap into the industry.

This year I was invited to judge the AAF Tampa Bay student competition. Answering the call-to-action was an easy yes. For starters I was in great company with fellow judges Jason Roberts VP, Creative Director for 22 squared and Marti Martin co-founder of Bridge and Bloom. To top it off it’s an honor to be asked to review the work, support our local AAF chapter, bay area schools and see the next wave of talent emerging ahead of intern season.

Taking notes on the 2020 Student ADDYs in Tampa, FL

Like many events since Covid judging was done remote. Once I received the link I set up in a cozy spot with a cup of coffee and my laptop to begin reviewing the submissions. The process took about 2 hours. The work submitted was diverse with mediums ranging from print to video and categories ranging from integrated campaigns to single entries. A wide range of skills were present in the creative including copywriting, design, illustration, animation and various combinations of the list. Additionally, the type of work ranged from self-promotion to consumer-packaged goods.

As I reviewed the work there were a few things I looked for. First, the idea. Was the work smart, clever, funny, provocative, or disruptive? Second, how the idea was executed. Was there a unique perspective and interesting creative choices apparent in the piece? With these considerations in mind the work submitted this year showed some light-hearted humor, serious tones, playful design, and fun exploration with multimedia.

Like any skill, it takes practice, passion and persistence. To all the emerging creatives who poured their heart into the work submitted to this year’s student Addys congratulations on your first step into the world of advertising. If you didn’t win. Keep pursing growth and honing your skills. For the winners of the night congratulations to you on being recognized for your smart thinking and intriguing exploration in execution.

Check out some of the winners below.

Sample brochure

“My favorite part of the design is the warped red text layered over the piece. I like that it breaks form and creates a sense of chaos to the otherwise clean and controlled design style.”
-Maja Carlyle, Gold Addy Winner for Collateral Material

Angry Anchor beer packaging

“Angry Anchor’s Briney Brig Stout was a fun personal project that stemmed from a simple sticker design and evolved into a drink with a story. Pairing nautical puns with colorful hand drawn imagery made for an enjoyable dive into the world of illustration.”
Jesse Woodward, Gold Addy Winner for Sales Promotion


See the full list of Student ADDY winners here.