Memphis Advertising Awards Get Campy

By Andy Meek

Memphis’ advertising industry has been gearing up to go camping.

“Camp Addywanna” is the theme crafted by local agency inferno that will dominate the awards ceremony held next week by the American Advertising Federation’s Memphis chapter. The ceremony will be held Feb. 22 at the Memphis Zoo’s Teton Trek exhibit, and nearly every aspect of the event will include some allusion to a certain age-old ritual connected to youthful summers that involves tents, s’mores and hiking in the woods.

Liza Routh, an account executive at inferno who’s on the AAF Memphis board, said inferno chose to infuse the event this year with a camping theme. It will be reflected in things such as hot cocoa being served, and award trophies will be in the shape of logs that have names and agencies engraved on them.

“The Amurica photo booth will be there, and someone impersonating a camp counselor will emcee the whole show,” Routh said.

The theme extends to wardrobe suggestions, which call for attendees to “throw on your T-shirt and your favorite camp shorts” and “hike up your socks.” The same goes for registration instructions, which encouraged participants to register for the “campitition” by insisting a permission slip from parents wouldn’t be necessary to sign up.

Leading up to the event, which will highlight the top creative work from around the Memphis area, agencies have been encouraged to get in the camping mood by creating “cabin signs” for their firms. Examples include Harvest Creative’s wooden slab that reads “Gettin’ fresh in the woods.”

Signs will be featured during the event, and participants have been encouraged to print T-shirts for the firm to wear, show off the work on Facebook and hang the cabin sign around their office.

This year’s theme is somewhat more lighthearted than last year’s. The theme for 2013 was “The Creeping Boredom,” and participants were colorfully warned of an “ageless horror” that slips in “unnoticed, planting its terrible seeds, waiting to harvest its ruinous crop.”

AAF Memphis presented 72 gold and 76 silver awards during last year’s ceremony, which was emceed by a character loosely based on Bane from the 2012 blockbuster film “The Dark Knight Rises.”

That was a 13 percent increase in awards distributed over the previous year. And Penelope Huston, president of AAF Memphis, said this year’s event has already generated a “great response.”

“We had 588 entries this year, almost as many as last year, when we had a little over 600,” she said. “And last year was a record, so we were not expecting it to come in that high. We’re really excited about it. We also like to see students get involved, and we had more student entries this year.

“It’s great that everyone still participates in it in a major way. The work this year was fantastic.”

Blaine Loyd, associate creative director at Red Deluxe and vice president of AAF Memphis, described the annual event as a time when local agencies, creative departments and anyone doing creative work in Memphis will have a chance to see their work honored.

“As always, we’ll bring in a few judges from out of the market, they’ll hole themselves up for a weekend and pick the best in categories like print, Web and best in show,” Loyd said.

The awards are part of a national competition conducted annually by the American Advertising Federation.