Remarks to AAF – West Virginia by Wally Snyder, President & CEO, American Advertising Federation
11:30 a.m., Thursday, April 26, 2007
Embassy Suites, Charleston, W.V.


Good afternoon and thank you for welcoming me to Charleston. Like the Kanawha River that flows though the valley and mountains, this capital city—indeed, this state—is on the move.

Your leadership is exemplary, and I want to extend my congratulations and thanks to your leadership team for their hard work and dedication: Steve Mallory, president; Jodi Holstine, executive director & secretary; Michelle Yarborough, vice president of programming; and Bob Fahner, vice president of membership. All of you, please stand to be recognized.

I'm especially grateful for this invitation because you know that by profession I'm a lawyer...and you invited me anyway. To paraphrase famed banker J.P. Morgan, "I don't want lawyers to tell me what I can't do; I want them to tell me how to do what I want to do."

Well, I'm not here to do either because the leadership demonstrated by this organization speaks for itself. You know what you want to do, and you're doing it:
  • The Advertising Association of Charleston announced its new name—AAF – West Virginia—at the local ADDY® Award dinner in February. This initiative will enhance branding on a local, regional and national level.
  • At the District ADDY Awards, your winners shined—a Gold ADDY for Maple Creative and a Gold and three Silver ADDYs for the Arnold Agency.
  • And your President, Steve Mallory, was recently elected secretary for District 5 in Cincinnati and will sit on the Board of Directors for the district.
You work in an exciting community that offers a variety of music, food and festivals, sporting events and cultural events that display the area's rich heritage. And you have a thriving business community that includes large employers such as Advantage Payroll Services, Cabell Huntington Hospital, Charleston Area Medical Center Health System, Inc., KeyLogic Systems, ManTech International Corporation, Mid-Atlantic Technology & Innovation Center, plus a host of high-caliber colleges and universities from which to draw and nurture young professionals. But you also enjoy a wealth of medium and small companies that add vitality and diversity to your market. And navigating through your Web site, it was interesting to note your members come not only from West Virginia but Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia as well.

The potential here is unbounded and makes the West Virginia organization a unique part of the national AAF strategy to create a diverse and inclusive organization that thrives on our differences. The motto on your Web site echoes our sentiments. We want the AAF to be the place "where great minds collide." And now you've enhanced your value by making a change that will surely impact your status and improve the bottom lines.

Robert Kennedy said, "Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator."

Your change of name to the American Advertising Federation – West Virginia will establish a consistent brand image with the national affiliate and elevate the prominence of this local organization. In addition, your identity with the national organization is sure to result in increased networking, business opportunities and growth across the region, across the country and eventually across the globe. We are the Unifying Voice for Advertising, and we're merging our identity because our relationship is strengthened by unity. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, "Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing the self is enlightenment."

AAF – West Virginia and the AAF are dependent upon each other for growth. In order to accomplish our goals, AAF – West Virginia must achieve its goals. Our success nationally depends on your success locally. The American Advertising Federation is essentially a grassroots organization. That means respecting local leadership while pursuing national goals. It means you offer us direction and insight at the local and regional level, so we can act on a national level. Bottom line, it means we take our cues from the membership. That's why so much on our agenda for growth in 2007 is directly related to the needs and interests of our local member organizations.

All this talk about name changing and working together sounds great. Now, let me tell you what it means to you:
  • It means this year—2007—will continue to be a period of reaching new goals and setting new standards for the future, many of which will directly impact your business.

    It means unparalleled access to programs and services designed to boost the profiles and standing of local clubs in their business communities. In turn, companies owned by local members can take advantage of networking opportunities and explore new avenues of business. One major goal in this area is the development of principles and practices for effectively combining online and traditional media. I want to take an in-depth look at this issue because it's important.

    The question is how can we in the marketing and advertising industry take advantage of the various technologies to create better products for our clients?

    During a recent interview, I was asked for my take on the biggest changes occurring in the advertising industry. Without a doubt, it's the media options available in the marketplace. Not too long ago we were talking about the impact of creating online communities, products and services. Now, we're living it. And as the technology expands so do the possibilities. Clients—from Wales to West Virginia, from Costa Rica to Charleston—have more access and want more opportunities to connect with consumers. And it doesn't matter where you live and work—we're all connected. This ever-expanding array of media choices makes decision making tougher—for clients and agencies, account execs and creatives.

    The real opportunity is to create an extended plan that blends traditional and new media to enhance performance. If you're interested in running a profitable business (and who isn't?), you have to dig into the research, question your clients about their goals and expectations and realize that the future is here—and now. Integrated media plans maximize the bottom line, as well as recognize the value of multicultural marketing that speaks to the needs, desires and cultures that are changing America's demographics.

    By now, it's clear technology is changing the digital landscape—for manufacturers, consumers and the advertising industry. No, we are not exempt. More and more, consumers are in control of their media. They want information delivered to their devices in new and unique ways, and they want to decide how to interact with the information.

    According to recent statistics, online advertising has grown nearly 19 percent in the last year, making it the sixth largest media category. Google recently gobbled YouTube, and together will control 60 percent of the Web's video advertising market. Analysts say video advertising is one of the fastest-growing revenue streams in cyberspace and predict spending to triple by 2009—that's 1.5 billion dollars. Keeping up with what's happening can be exhausting. Every week it seems there's a multibillion deal involving a company that didn't exist a few years ago. That's the pace of change—fast and faster.

    Your affiliation with the AAF opens up a wealth of resources and research. We want you to be in the know; we want you to continue building your careers and your businesses.

    It's a new world. Integrating online media into campaigns that already include TV, print, radio and outdoor is making new demands on our staffing, budgets and creativity. The American Advertising Federation wants to be your guide through this new territory. You can view research about traditional and online media on our Web site at www.aaf.org. And much of our National Conference—convening June 7 to 9 in Louisville, Kentucky—will be devoted to this topic and will feature a stellar lineup of speakers, professional development workshops and networking opportunities galore.

    Now, back to our list. What else do this name change mean to you?

  • It means a new level of proactive involvement with the new Congress—from Capitol Hill in Washington to your local congressional meetings. You'll learn more about the legislative and regulatory process and how it impacts the industry—and your business. Plus, our government affairs committee is always available to help. This is especially important as we face tough issues such as the childhood obesity debate. The national organization depends on local leadership to help navigate the political and regulatory waters. That's why our involvement in programs such as PE4life is so valuable.

  • And finally, this new name and closer association brings satisfaction and pride, feelings that come with extending diversity and inclusion so that students and professionals of color can enter the industry knowing their talent and drive will be rewarded. The AAF is researching a business practices paper on hiring, retaining and promoting minority professionals, and we're creating a vendor database. Diversity and inclusion are vital to compete in the international marketplace and engage in multicultural marketing. Organizations and businesses throughout the industry need people who understand advertising and the cultural nuances that make campaigns successful. That's why it was so gratifying to be here and celebrate your success.

As I was reading through materials to prepare for this trip, I was so proud and happy to reaffirm what I already knew—that both our groups share what I like to call "inclusive DNA." We embrace differences. We believe it enhances our mission and goals. I am honored to be here because like the national office, AAF – West Virginia prefers action instead of reaction. Though small, you remain a mighty force and will play an even more important role as your chapter grows in statewide and regional influence. With that growth comes opportunities to reflect core values to veterans, young professionals and students—consistency, ethics and honor.

Your leadership will mean scholarships for high school students who want to enter the communications industry, special forums and networking on an unprecedented scale.

As the American Advertising Federation – West Virginia, you continue to set the bar higher. Ultimately, your actions and your record of achievement will answer the question, "What does this name change and closer affiliation with the national office mean?" The answer is simple: It means whatever you want it to mean. As with most endeavors, output is directly related to input.

Even though you're a local entity, business opportunities are global and the workforce is multiethnic—right here in the United States. We value tradition, but we must understand that political, economic and social changes have altered our original mission. We're not in the midst of an identity crisis. We know what the American Advertising Federation—in West Virginia, San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta, New York, wherever—we know what the AAF is, and we know what it stands for and what it works for.

Let's all work to make our professional relationship meaningful. I am confident the enhanced branding and closer association with the national organization will raise expectations and inspire you to explore new ways to enhance your business and help this industry move forward.

I want you to know the AAF is with you. Please call or e-mail anytime with questions or comments. I want to hear from you and so does Joanne Schecter, AAF's executive vice president for club services. Our business cards are up here for your convenience. And please stop by our office when you're in the Washington, D.C. area. And finally, explore our Web site—www.aaf.org. In the coming months you'll see improved content, more webcasts, Web conferences, research and speeches to help you navigate multicultural marketing, the use of new technology and a host of other industry issues.

I appreciate your attention and your time. And I'm excited that you've decided to plan for the future. The journalist and editor Roy W. Howard got it right when he said, "No date on the calendar is as important as tomorrow." Thank you.
###