History

A Trendsetter from the Beginning

Founded on the principle of promoting and perpetuating high advertising standards, the American Advertising Federation (AAF) is intended to provide national leadership on issues involving and affecting advertising so as to advance and protect the industry.

By the turn of the 19th Century, advertising had been recognized as an important and viable means of communication. The industrial movement gave rise to the need for product and service promotion; and with this, the advertising profession was established. As the profession grew into an industry, practitioners became concerned with assuring high business standards. Then, as now, the advertising professionals identified the need to join together to protect and promote their trade. This thought led to the organization of professional advertising clubs founded on the principle of upholding high industry standards. Across the country advertising professionals formed local organizations to achieve this objective.

By 1904 these local advertising clubs realized that to be most effective they should join together. Accordingly, in 1904 the local clubs in the West formed the Pacific Coast Advertising Men’s Association. A year later, the East Coast clubs organized into the National Federation of Advertising Clubs. These two regional groups evolved to become the Advertising Association of the West (AAW) and the Advertising Federation of America (AFA).

Both associations worked to raise the standards of advertising through education and self-regulation. In the East, the AFA organized a national vigilance committee in 1911 and launched the “truth in advertising” movement, the forerunner to Better Business Bureaus. The AAW became involved in this movement a year later.

After the Second World War, business and advertising expanded. The advent of commercial air travel and continued progress in telecommunications brought the East and West closer together. At the same time, the Federal establishment in Washington found it increasingly confusing and cumbersome to deal with two regional organizations representing the same interests. Pressure towards merger of the AFA and AAW mounted.

Our national organization, AAF, did not emerge until 1967, some 19 years after the 7th District was organized. AAF was created when District 7’s national organization, the AFA, merged with the AAW. A joint convention was held in 1962 during which a commission was formed to discuss the issue of merger. Five years later, Advertising Association of the West joined forces creating a unified grassroots organization for the good of advertising: the American Advertising Federation. The result of the merger has proven to be a strong national organization that works continuously to promote and defend the advertising industry.

In 1987, 20 years following the formation of our national association, AAF’s National Conference, held annually, was scheduled in Orlando, Florida. A few months prior to the convention, the state of Florida passed a tax on advertising. AAF had a choice: move the convention, or march on Florida.

Advertising Legislation Overseer

Hundreds of AAF volunteers rallied during the convention and worked untiringly afterward to encourage Florida’s legislators to rescind the ad tax. The march during the National AAF Convention was covered by national network news. Our voice as an industry was heard throughout this nation both during and following the convention. Before the conclusion of that year, America witnessed the Florida legislature rescind the tax on advertising.

While the first state to actually have to fight to rescind a tax on advertising was not located within our district, we consider the event a very important part of our history. As an association, our professional network–District 7, which served the interest of advertising in the five-state area of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee–feared the potential domino effect. If Florida was successful, our states’ legislators might choose to follow. We felt a professional obligation to help educate legislators as well as the public as to the negative economic impact of an ad tax.

AAF is divided into three regions: East, Central and West. The regions are subdivided into 15 districts. AAF headquarters are in Washington, D.C., with a branch office in San Francisco, California. Today, there are over 220 advertising clubs and federations with approximately 50,000 members which represent the AAF grassroots organization. AAF also includes in its membership 125 corporate members and subsidiaries and more than 200 college chapters. AAF is the only existing national organization which represents all segments of the industry: advertisers, advertising agencies, media and advertising service companies.

Located in the Eastern Region, the 7th District is one of AAF’s largest districts in both geographic and membership size. District 7 encompasses five states with 23 advertising clubs and federations representing more than 3,000 advertising professionals. Today, District 7 is considered to be one of AAF’s most innovative and progressive districts. Several former governors have served as Chair of the AAF’s Council of Governors, including: Jim Ward in 1976-77, Mike Gallagher in 1983-84, Linda Sherman in 1997-98, and most recently, Jimmy Warren in 2000-2001.

In the beginning, life was somewhat different. By the late 1930’s, what is now District 7 was split between District 9 (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and southern Virginia) and District 10 (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas). District 9 & 10’s national organization was then called the AFA.

The AFA’s district structure disintegrated as the nation became involved in World War II, and, it was the late 1940’s before the AFA began piecing itself back together. By 1948, most of the states surrounding District 7 currently had been organized into districts.

According to District 7’s first Governor, Harry Hoile of Birmingham, Alabama, representatives from six clubs and federations gathered in Birmingham in November 1948. Harry called the initial meeting to organize District 7 at the request of AFA President Elon Borton. At that time, Harry was a member of AFA’s Board of Directors.

“The leadership of advertising clubs located in Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Memphis, Mobile and Nashville drafted a constitution and by-laws, and elected district officers. We represented some 400 club members,” Harry recalled.

The first district convention was held in Baton Rouge in 1949, and its delegates elected Lee Herzberg of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as second Governor. Since its founding, District 7 has had 61 advertising professionals serve as Governor. Joel Swanson of Mobile, Alabama, has the distinction of serving the longest term,30 months (1970-72).

Throughout the years, the District fiscal year has changed, most recently in 1994. The fiscal year shall be from July 1 to June 30 in keeping with AAF requests.

The Voice of the Advertising Industry

District 7 has long reigned as a champion for the advertising industry on all levels: local, state, regional and national. District 7 professionals are consistently tapped by AAF to serve on any one of its 25 national committees, such as: Academic, ADDY Awards, By-Laws, Club Services and Public Service. The force of District 7 has helped direct the growth of AAF as a national grassroots organization since its birth in 1967.

AAF’s National Student Advertising Competition originated within the leadership of the 7th “Deep South” District. In 1966, then Lt. Governor Fred MacVicar and Atlanta’s Jack Bolton developed the concept and in 1967, District 7, with the help of the Atlanta Ad Club, took this on as a major project on behalf of District 7. It was first officially named the 7th District Student Advertising Campaign Competition. By 1969, the success of our District’s project had caused other Districts to have similar competitions. In 1969, our own District 7 Governor Al Dick of Chattanooga, Tennessee, made the motion that resulted in the AAF Council of Governors recommending that AAF adopt this Student Advertising Campaign Competition as a national project. AAF did adopt this project and in 1973, the first national competition was held with an unnamed wine as the product. The National Student Advertising Competition has been held every year since 1973. Beginning in 1973, the District’s winning team has competed in the National Competition.

This is a college-level team competition with each school team, in effect, serving as a full-service agency. The same case study is presented to all competing teams on a product or service to design a format, research the market, prepare budgets, select media and prepare a whole advertising campaign. It’s a hands on competition. There is a competition held among teams from schools with AAF-affiliated College Chapters in District 7 with presentations made at the annual Spring Convention. The winning team from the District advances to the national Student Advertising Competition held during the AAF National Conference and competes with all of AAF’s 15 district winners. There have been four teams from the Seventh District that have won the National Competition: in 1979 the team from the University of Tennessee, in 1983 the team from the University of Georgia, in 1995 the team from Loyola University, and in 2000 the team from the University of Alabama. During the 1997 Spring Convention in Huntsville, Alabama, the District celebrated the 25th Anniversary of student competition which originated in District 7. The Bolton-MacVicar Aid to Students Award was established honoring the competition’s founders Jack Bolton and Fred MacVicar.

Awards & Competition Are 7th Mainstays

The year 1967 proved to be a landmark for our district. Besides the merging of the AFA and AAW into the AAF, District 7’s first female governor, Annie-Claire Mote of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, had just completed her term. (Another decade and a half would pass before we would elect another female to serve as governor.) And, a tradition began. Otis Dodge of Birmingham, Alabama, a popular district officer, met an untimely death. Shocked and saddened at the news he had drowned, the district established the Otis Dodge Memorial Award. District officers, state directors, club presidents and former governors vote by secret ballot to select the person who has contributed most significantly to the district. The award is presented each year during our Annual Convention, traditionally held in the spring. The Harry Hoile Award, named for our first Governor, was established in 1991 to give recognition to each immediate past governor for District accomplishments and dedication.

Early district conventions were similar to current ones. Our Leadership Conference, designed for club management and committee leadership to network and exchange ideas, promotes strengthening our clubs and federations as a viable professional organization serving its local community. District 7 was one of the first, if not the first, to conduct such a conference. Beginning in 1968, because of its central location and dedication to the District, the Birmingham Advertising Club was the official conference host, and this practice continued until the early 1980’s. Since then clubs pitch to host the District Leadership Conference, and it is traditionally held in late July or early August.

In 1988, the District Board members voted and changed the name or our Mid-Winter Board Meeting to the Fall Board Meeting, which is traditionally held in mid-October or early November. In November 1988, the Augusta Advertising Club hosted our first Fall Board Meeting. It was during that meeting we officially celebrated our 40th birthday.

The Annual Convention conducted during the spring focuses on education for the advertising professional. As early as 1955, delegates heard presentations on emotional aspects of color in advertising. In recent years, advertising and marketing leaders from national corporations such as McDonald’s and Anheuser-Busch have shared insights and breakthroughs for advertising with District 7 Convention delegates.

It is during the Annual Convention that District 7 conducts its annual election and the ADDY Awards presentation and hosts the Governor’s Gala for the purpose of installing newly elected officers and directors. District officers and directors elected during the convention take office on July 1. The Annual Convention is traditionally held in April.

At one time, the Spring Convention was held in the governor’s home city. However, as the district grew in club size, other factors such as central location and hotel facilities began to play an important role in convention site selection.

District 7 has grown steadily since its birth, though slowly at first. It wasn’t until 1953 that District 7 added its first new club since its birth in 1948. Though New Orleans was organized as an advertising association, it did not affiliate until 1953. By 1955, the district included Jackson, Mississippi, and Tri-Cities, Tennessee. There were 11 clubs by 1958. Chattanooga, Tennessee; Columbus, Georgia; and Montgomery, Alabama, had affiliated. Tri-Cities dropped out but later rejoined.

In 1960, the 7th “Deep South” District counted 14 clubs with 1,300 members. New clubs included Knoxville, Tennessee; Savannah, Georgia; and even Pensacola, Florida, which is now in the 4th District. By 1967, we had grown to 16 clubs and 1,450 members. At that time, new clubs located in Augusta, Georgia; Lafayette, Louisiana; and Biloxi-Gulfport, Mississippi, had affiliated.

In 1975, we claimed 19 clubs in District. New clubs were located in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Macon and Gainesville, Georgia. The following year, the District added its first Ad 2 club, Atlanta, and senior clubs in Muscle Shoals and Dothan, Alabama. Tri-Cities reaffiliated that same year. In 1977, Athens, Georgia became affiliated with District 7, and in 1979, the Mississippi Golden Triangle Club representing both Columbus and Tupelo joined our District. In 1985, the club from Alexandria, Louisiana, became a part of the District, and in 1990 dropped out for a few years.

In 1992, the Golden Triangle Club split into two clubs with Columbus, Mississippi, eventually keeping the Golden Triangle name and a new North Mississippi Club in Tupelo joining District 7. Other clubs that have joined in recent years are from Hatttiesburg and Greenville in Mississippi, Anniston in Alabama, and Jackson in Tennessee.

District 7 is one of the largest in the AAF with a total of 23 clubs & federations. Since 1980, the District has enjoyed tremendous growth in the affiliations of College Chapters which now number 24, making up a very important part of our network.

By the mid-’80’s, District 7 had once again proven its value to the AAF national network. As a district, we agreed to adopt AAF’s National Standardization Policy which included encouraging our clubs and federations to change their fiscal club year to June 1- May 31; incorporating the name “ADDY” into our district and local club/federation annual creative-excellence-in-advertising awards competition; and filing for “nonprofit” status.

We were one of the first AAF districts to agree to all five points covered by the national standardization policy. The move to adopt and implement the policy as set forth by AAF’s Council of Governors and Standardization Committee can be directly attributed to the gubernatorial administrations of Michael Gallagher, George Waldron and Jan Gardner.

Equal Representation by Size and Interest

Other important District developments include the addition of a director for each state to our board, which occurred during the administration of Governor Ron Hill of Atlanta, Georgia (1977-78). In 1979-1980, under Governor Arthur Curl, we expanded to include two directors per state. To maintain the delicate voting balance, state directors were given one-half vote each. We later amended our by-laws to allow each state director one full vote. State directors are responsible for assisting in the implementation of all District activities within their respective state. It was at the recommendation of the local club/federation leadership and state directors that District 7 structured district conventions to accommodate the scheduling of state meetings. Today, most states only hold a state meeting separate from district meetings due to a special situation, such as legislative action.

During 1981-82, Governor J. Michael Gallagher of Nashville, Tennessee, led us to the fruition of the district office at what was then Memphis State University, now University of Memphis, naming the room which it occupies for former Governor Jay Fields of Tri-Cities, Tennessee.

Governor Jan Gardner of Memphis, Tennessee, focused on the grassroots by establishing the Council of Presidents. Governor Ron Thompson of New Orleans, Louisiana (1984-85), brought us the concept of district coordinators for implementing district projects and strengthening our network in the legislative and public service areas.

In 1985, during the administration of Governor Maggie Clark of Jackson, Mississippi, District 7 established two important awards: the Donald G. Hileman Memorial Award, which recognizes the District’s educator of the year, and The Governors Award, which recognizes the District’s grassroots volunteer of the year. The same year, the District Board voted to establish the District Hall of Fame, whose membership is composed of former Governors, with Honorary Chairmen elected by the District Board. Honorary Chairmen are elected based on an individual’s continued involvement in AAF’s District 7 beyond their term as Governor. It’s not surprising that individuals inducted into District 7’s Hall of Fame as Honorary Chairmen have maintained involvement on the national level as well.

District 7 – Rich in Tradition and Heritage

The 1989-90 year, under the leadership of Trena Packer-Street of Memphis, Tennessee, saw the establishment of three new outstanding programs:

Jan Gardner Memorial Scholarship and Education Program: Funded by the District and memorial contributions given in the honor of former Governor Jan Gardner (1983-84). Established August 11, 1989, this ongoing fund presented the first $1,000 scholarship at the District Convention in Chattanooga on April 7, 1990.

Student Creative Awards Competition: Designed to give expression and outlet for talented students within the 7th District College Chapters to submit original and unpublished work. Cash awards of $200 and Honorable Mentions were presented at the District Convention in Chattanooga on April 7, 1990.

The Alabama Advertising Educational Foundation: Chartered and signed on January 10, 1990 in a meeting in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Scholarships of up to $1,000 are to be made available to students of Advertising, Commercial Art, Marketing and Public Relations. This is the first program of its kind.

These new programs are the result of the upthrust of many student-oriented programs put into place from the beginnings of Advertising Clubs within the 7th District. In keeping with AAF requests, beginning in 1992, District 7 began an ADDY standardization process to encourage all clubs to autoforward all local ADDY winners.

The process has come full circle, with a majority of District clubs now autoforwarding to District and on to the national ADDY Awards competition. In 1991, a 7th District ADDY workshop was established to be held at the Fall Board Meeting each year.

In 1997, Governor Jimmy Warren of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, extensively expanded the District Leadership manuals written and distributed to all federation presidents, coordinators, and District officers. In 1998, the 7th District celebrated its 50th Anniversary at the District Convention in Memphis. Some 23 former Governors of the 7th District attended the celebration and an historical video was previewed.

Governor Judy Fraser of Birmingham, Alabama, helped guide the District into the realm of cyberspace with the establishment of the first 7th District website, www.7thaaf.com, introduced in April 1998. With the groundwork solidly laid, Governor Sheree Farrar Harper of Columbus, Georgia, further established the Internet as the major communications vehicle for the District. Officers, State Directors, and coordinators began utilizing e-mail as a main source of “meetings” and a mass e-mail communication network for the District was set up in 1999.

In 2001, during the consecutive governorships of James Belton of Montgomery, Alabama, and Charlie East of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the 7th District developed and established a program through which District clubs in genuine need of financial assistance can receive a loan from the District. An application form is available, and terms are negotiable, depending on the individual club’s situation.

In 2002, former 7th District Governor Charlie Malone of Clarksville, Tennessee, was presented AAF’s prestigious Barton A. Cummings Gold Medal Award at the AAF National Conference in Miami. The award annually honors one distinguished individual for his/her volunteer service to advertising through work with AAF.

The 7th “Deep South” District is unique in its enthusiasm and dedication. Educational programs throughout the District advertising community are constantly expanding, financed by ADDY Awards, special fundraising events, grans and memorials, and other enterprising action. The underlying purpose of it all is to encourage the bright and gifted students and give financial lift where needed.

Rich in tradition and know for its pioneering spirit and innovate, the 7th District remains alert to the needs of today and the future of the advertising industry as it continues to be the “Unifying Voice for Advertising.”

The University of Alabama student team won the National Student Advertising Competition in 2000 when the New York Times was the sponsor/client. Also in 2000, Jimmy Warren (Tuscaloosa) became the forth 7th District representative elected as Chair of AAF’s Council of Governors. Others who have occupied this office from the 7th District are: James Ward (Nashville) 1976-77, Michael Gallagher (Nashville) 1983-84, and Linda Sherman (Nashville) 1997-98.

Former Governors remain involved and active in the District. In 2003, the former Governors hosted the Spring Convention in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Former Governors also meet annually and judge the Club Achievement and Club of the Year Competition entries. Former Governor Charlie Malone (Nashville) wrote a history of the District’s student activities including student chapters and the student advertising competition. And Former Governor Bruce Roche (Tuscaloosa) researched and wrote a history of AAF’s first 100 years at the request of AAF as part of their National Convention and 100th Anniversary.

In 2004, former Governor Jimmy Warren (Tuscaloosa) was inducted into the 7th District Hall of Fame. In the same year the STAR Awards were replaced with the Student ADDY Awards, and it became a three-tier national competition.

The horrific Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in the fall of 2005, devastating ad federations in New Orleans, Mississippi Gulf Coast and Mobile. The businesses and homes of many ad fed members were destroyed or heavily damaged. The district provided assistance to clubs to help in the recovery effort.

Nashville hosted AAF’s National Conference in 2005 and also established an Ad2 club the same year.

In 2006-07, a new and exciting way for our clubs to be awarded Club of the Year began under the governorship of Vicki Mills from Macon, Georgia. In the past, the Club Achievement competition single-handedly produced the Club of the Year. While Club Achievement is still a major component of the competition, the Club(s) of the Year are awarded for overall excellence in club management and in specific areas by allocating points for successes throughout the year.

Also in 2007, former Governor Jimmy Warren of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was presented AAF’s Barton A. Cummings Gold Medal Award at the AAF National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, becoming only the second member of the 7th District to be bestowed such an honor.

In 2007-08, Governor Michele Massey from Tuscaloosa established the Charlie Malone NSAC Assistance Fund. The fund was named after former Governor Charlie Malone in honor of his service to the District and his dedication to students. The first check in the amount of $1,000 was presented to Savannah College of Art and Design at Spring Convention in Tuscaloosa.

Also that year in an effort to solidify and further strengthen the value of AAF, the 7th District supported the national organization in its branding initiative by officially changing the name of the District to AAF District 7 under Governor Massey.

By National Convention in Atlanta in June 2008, a total of 77 clubs and Districts had officially adopted the AAF-X brand in their name. Proudly our District and 15 clubs were part of the first to support AAF in this endeavor. The clubs were:
AAF Baton Rouge, AAF Birmingham, AAF Central Georgia, AAF Chattahoochee Valley, AAF Chattanooga, AAF Dothan, AAF Jackson, MS, AAF Knoxville, AAF Mississippi Delta, AAF Mississippi Gulf Coast, AAF Mobile Bay, AAF Montgomery, AAF Northeast Tennessee, AAF Tuscaloosa and AAF West Tennessee.

2008-09 marked the 60th Anniversary of District 7 with the first Hispanic Governor, Kathy Jacobus from Chattanooga, Tennessee, presiding. Governor Jacobus developed a minority MOSAIC scholarship which was awards to a student in the amount of $1,000 at Spring Convention.

During her term, Governor Jacobus continued the initiative of AAF to encourage all clubs to adopt the AAF branding stately. By the end of her term, 22 out of 23 clubs that are represented in AAF District 7 had branded with AAF.

In 2009-10, Governor Curtis Vann of Baton Rouge began his year with a joint Leadership Conference with District 4 in Destin, Florida. This joint venture with over 200 attendees was one of the largest Leadership conferences in the history of the District. Also during Curtis’ term we embraced the Social Media revolution by establishing a Twitter account, Facebook page and LinkenIn group.

During the 2010-11 year with Laura Burton serving as Governor, the Executive Committee changed the current structure by removing the position of Lt. Governor Communications and redistributing those responsibilities to other Executive Committee portfolios. The district membership voted to transition from State Directors to Regional Directors, to allow for a better distribution of Director to Club responsibility, and to increase district dues from $6 to $8. Former Governor Sherri Sawyer was inducted into the AAF District 7 Hall of Fame.

Shortly after the year started, came the announcement of an ADDY awards fee increase from AAF that District 7 embraced and came out on top. Of the ten clubs with the greatest percentage increase in professional ADDY Awards entries from the previous year, four were in District 7 including AAF Chattanooga, AAF Central Georgia, AAF West Tennessee and AAF Mobile Bay. Also, AAF Chattanooga and AAF Central Georgia had their AAF annual dues 100% waived for the 2011-2012 year in recognition of having the highest percentage increase in their Division nationally.

The Executive Committee established the AAF District 7 Bolton MacVicar National Best Presenter Award to be given annually at ADMERICA! (formerly know as AAF National Convention) and includes a cash prize of $500. Additionally a Former Governor Facebook page was created.

Credit: Harry Hoile, Historian (1989-90, 1990-91), Governor (1948); Trena Street, Governor (1989-90), Historian (1993-94, 94-95); Maggie Clark, Governor (1985-86); Dr. Bruce Roche, Historian (1985-88), Governor (1980-81); Gus Wales, Governor (1992-93); Charlie Malone, Governor (1991-1992), Historian (1995-96); Jimmy Warren, Historian (1998-99), Governor (1996-97); June 2008, Past Governor Michele Massey; REVISED July 2009, Past Governor Kathy Jacobus; July 2010, Past Governor Michele Massey; June 2011, Past Governor Vicki Mills.