By Greg Kihlstrom, president of DC Ad Club and founder and CEO of Carousel30
The threat of hurricane Joaquin was no match for the 12th annual ADWKDC, one of Washington,D.C.’s premier advertising and marketing events of the year. Planned and produced by DC Ad Club, and involving speakers and presenters from around the country, ADWKDC featured more sessions than ever from national and local experts on topics ranging from reaching millennials, the latest in wearables, the 2016 elections and more. Despite the gloomy weather, the conference, which concluded Saturday, had 475 people registered for the week with “standing room only” at several breakout sessions. In total, attendees could select from more than 30 sessions and hear from 70 speakers and panelists.
This year’s ADWKDC got off to a great start on Monday evening, Sept. 28, with award-winning photographer Dick Durrance and an interactive presentation focused on the nature of creativity. Durrance talked about his experience as both a National Geographic photographer and in advertising, and how he has maintained his creative eye.
Tuesday and Wednesday featured professional development programming, including the second annual Advertising Ethics Certification course hosted at LMO Advertising and facilitated by Wally Snyder from the American Advertising Federation. Wednesday night’s Water Cooler Wednesday happy hour hosted by Ad2DC, featured a resume review by top area professionals and leaders.
The highlight of ADWKDC is always the conference programming sessions. This year was no exception with over 30 sessions and more than 70 speakers and panelists. Keynote speakers included Derek Thompson from The Atlantic, Anthony Shop from SocialDriver, Bob Johnston from Insignium, Mark Leibovich from the New York Times, and Robin Koval from the Truth Initiative. The annual Silver Medal Award was presented to Paul Duning of Capitol Communicator for his years of dedication to the Washington, D.C., advertising community. (Left to right in photo above: Greg Kihlstrom, Paul Duning and Cary Hatch, CEO of D.C.-based MDB Communications, who introduced Duning and also has won the Silver Medal Award.)
This year’s conference also featured several guests from American Advertising Federation’s District Two, representing the Mid-Atlantic region. This helped to expand the conference’s reach beyond the immediate Maryland/D.C./Virginia communications community. The District Two participants had an additional day of meetings as part of their annual conference.
Saturday, Oct. 3, brought the third annual CREATE event to Facebook’s D.C. headquarters. CREATE is a one-day event where students and young professionals come together to create actionable plans to solve the marketing problems of area nonprofits. Divided into teams of 4-6 participants, they paired with D.C.- area nonprofits to hear the marketing challenges the nonprofits face and then spent the day creating an actionable plan to solve those marketing challenges. At the end of the day, each team presented their plan to the nonprofits and a panel of judges from Facebook and the Ad Club. The winning team was chosen as presenting the plan that provided the most actionable to solve their nonprofit’s marketing challenge. At the end of the day, each nonprofit walked away with a smart marketing plan created by advertising students and professionals, and the participants each gained valuable experience working in teams to solve a marketing challenge under a tight deadline for something that mattered and benefited the D.C. community.
In its 12th year, ADWKDC continues to be a hallmark of the Washington, D.C., communications community and shows no signs of slowing down. As a barometer of the overall industry in this region, it shows that things are continuing to improve, and that the creativity and ingenuity of our area’s best and brightest will continue to make an impact on our field.