Insights from Steve Pacheco President & CEO, American Advertising Federation

September 2020

The Summer of our (dis)content.

Some of my favorite Summer memories from childhood were our annual family vacation trips to Cape Cod to spend two weeks with my Father’s four brothers, and their families, and get time on the beach!

We’d stuff the station wagon to maximum capacity and drive all the way from Memphis to Massachusetts—1,500 miles in 3 days with occasional rest stops at Stuckey’s and a good night’s sleep at a roadside Holiday Inn. Mom and Dad and my two sisters and all our luggage and books and beach bags made for a pretty tight fit and lots of togetherness, but we all endured the long ride, the very close quarters, and the second hand smoke from Dad’s Winston cigarettes, because we knew what was waiting for us once we got there!

Waiting for us was this…

Clam bakes on the cape with oysters and shrimp and stacks of veggies served right out of the wire baskets—still steaming. The time spent on the beach with my crazy cousins and us kids making fun of each other’s accents – (they said we sounded like “Hee Haw” and we countered with our bad delivery of “Pahk the Cah in Havahd Yahd.”)

Long bike rides in flip flops to the ice cream shack with a dollar in your pocket and some big decisions to be made once you got there. Those absolutely beautiful sunsets over the peaceful waves at the end of the day.  Seeing the stars in the clear night sky and thinking they were brightest you’d ever seen.

Simple memories made to last a lifetime. Well worth the journey.

We all just came through a very different Summer. No doubt it was one to remember as well.

For most of us there were no road trips to visit friends and family far away, no large gatherings and getaways, no “in real life” celebrations for Graduates or Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or weddings or births. What started back in March shows little signs of being over and left a dark cloud over the Summer of 2020.

It’d be very easy to be completely discontent over all of this—and many are. I take a different view.

From where I stand, I’m grateful that we all got through this Summer intact. The AAF never missed a beat. The great AAF Staff powered through this rough patch with their usual “Let’s Get It Done” spirit and attitude. We came together with the help and support of the AAF volunteer leadership grass roots network and our generous supporters to do a remarkable amount of work to deliver on our mission of being “The Unifying Voice for Advertising”.

Together we stood up an all new “virtual” ADMERICA National Conference that was well attended and well received and we recognized and honored Club Achievements in a new and different way. We held The American Advertising Awards online and celebrated the very best in advertising creativity from across North America. We named a new NSAC National Champion (The University of Virginia) that did great work for our sponsor Adobe. We rolled out more new Advertising Education programs that are ready for an uncertain Fall semester for our College chapters and students and faculty.  And we doubled down on our AAF Mosaic Center efforts on Diversity & Inclusion & Equity issues, launching the APEX Multicultural Speakers Bureau and working more closely than ever with HBCU’s to expand our reach.  We will induct an outstanding new class of the AAF Advertising Hall of Achievement in November that will be the most diverse class we’ve ever had.

In this regard, it occurs to me that the AAF is a lot like my family on the way to the cape in the Summer. We make it work somehow. We endure the bad days—so we can really enjoy the good days. We make memories that last a lifetime.  And we don’t stop till we get there.

I don’t know when we will “get there.”  But I am committed to keeping the AAF focused on the journey.

Here’s to better days ahead for you, for those close to you, and for the AAF.

Thanks for being on this journey with us.

Stay healthy, stay safe.



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