Get ready. Tomorrow evening is a big night for the Seattle advertising community. The 2014 American Advertising Awards Seattle will take place Wednesday, March 19, at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center. And while this is the first year the competition has been re-named as the American Advertising Awards, it is the sixth year the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Seattle has been bestowing “ADDY Awards” for excellence as part of the largest advertising creative awards competition in the world.

With the awards show a little over 24 hours away, Washington Filmworks reached out to George Riddell to learn more about AAF Seattle and the newly re-branded event. Riddell is the President of Big House Production in Seattle and current national Chairman of the American Advertising Awards Committee. He is a member of the national Board of Directors of the AAF and has served a member of the AAF Seattle Board for ten years. Riddell was President of AAF Seattle from 2007-2010 and is currently the Government Relations Director.


In a nutshell, what should Washington know about AAF?  The American Advertising Federation is a national organization comprised of nearly 200 local ad clubs in markets big and small throughout the US. Each local club conducts social and professional activities throughout the year with, and for, its advertising community. The local advertising communities typically consist of ad agencies, design firms, TV and radio stations, newspapers, magazines and associated businesses, and individuals like printers, film and video production companies. AAF Seattle is the Western Washington Chapter of AAF and has served as the Seattle Ad Cub for more than 100 years.

AAA_SeattleTell us a little more about the newly coined American Advertising Awards. Why does AAF award ADDYs, and how does the competition work? Historically, the ADDY Awards have been conducted every year to celebrate creative excellence in advertising. This year, the brand name of the competition has changed to the American Advertising Awards, where we continue to recognize creative excellence while also acknowledging the American advertising industry. Each year we receive more than 40,000 entries in 200+ categories. It is unique in that it starts locally at the ad club level. Local ADDY winners then advance, where they are judged again in a second round with other local winners from their district. The Northwest District consists of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The winners from the 15 districts are judged yet again by another panel of judges who determine the national ADDY winners.

What is the history of the awards event? The ADDY Awards started as a local and regional competition in Florida in the 1960s. It was later adopted nationwide by the AAF and all of the clubs. In Seattle the present-day competition is in its sixth year, but this is the first year it has been known as the “American Advertising Awards”. The name change is a national rebranding. Winners will still receive an ADDY Award.

Addy_StatueWhat other types of events does AAF Seattle organize? The two most prominent events are ArtBash and ChalkTalk. ArtBash is a unique art auction in which the local agencies and creative firms design artwork that is then auctioned off at the ArtBash event. Proceeds benefit the AAF Seattle scholarship for minority advertising and marketing students at Western Washington University. ChalkTalk is an annual Super Bowl commercial replay. Each year, a few days after the Super Bowl, AAF Seattle and PSAMA (the Puget Sound chapter of the American Marketing Association) team up to present this unique event. We assemble a panel of advertising and industry experts to critique that year’s Super Bowl commercials.

Who should become involved with the AAF? Membership is not required to attend events or enter work in the American Advertising Awards. However, membership is open to any person or business that is interested or involved in the advertising industry. There’s more information online and we maintain a very active Facebook page.

How do campaigns to drive more commercial business to the area, like Commercialize Seattle, align with the work of AAF Seattle? TV commercial production can be an important driver of business for the city and state’s economy and film industry. The Seattle advertising community can play a key role in building that business. Creature, one our best and brightest agency stars, has already taken a front seat in this effort by developing the breakthrough launch campaign for Commercialize Seattle. The marriage of Seattle’s advertising and production communities is a natural partnership.


Thanks, George!

Interested in attending the celebration tomorrow night? Tickets are still available online for a limited time. The AAF Seattle website is a great resource to learn more about the organization and all that it offers, including advocacy and government relations, events, competitions, and a wide range of membership benefits from the student to corporate level.