The American Advertising Federation attended Ad Day in Tallahassee on October 6, 2015, during legislative special session, meeting with State Senators and Representatives to advocate for the advertising industry.
President Eric Needle, President-Elect Madison Conradis and Government Relations Chair Bill Williams represented the members of AAF Space Coast along with leaders of AAF District 4, and delegates from Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa. Our district represents over 1,500 people—agencies, advertisers, creatives and those who support the industry through services like printing, web design, audio, video, promotional products and so much more. News media, print publications and magazine publishers are also a huge component of our membership.
One of the main focuses of AAF is to be the unifying voice of all the people and businesses that serve the advertising industry and their clients. The not-for-profit organization is best known for their yearly American Advertising Awards, or ADDY Awards, which recognize excellence in all we do.
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It was an amazing session.
Our delegation met with all of our State legislators this trip, including Senate President Andy Gardiner and Ryan Smith from House Speaker Steve Crisafulli’s office. We connected with representatives Ritch Workman, Tom Goodson, John Tobia and Senator Thad Altman’s office.
The Space Coast has a rare connection to leadership this term with our Senator and Representative in the President and House Speaker roles. Our team had an excellent session at a time when few organizations were in the Capitol. We were able to spend a lot of time with our reps.
The main message of the trip was that advertising is often a leading indicator of the state of our economy. The ‘canary in a coal mine’, our small businesses feel the upswings and downturns as our clients focus on advertising (which we feel as growth)—or ignore it.
We know that to grow business, you need to promote yourself. We were pleased to report that many of us see the economy improving. With no legislation affecting us, we appreciate the focus on growth and have seen benefit from efforts like Enterprise Florida and Grow FL. Because our businesses are not directly related to how these efforts show their value, it’s important to show our support. AAF often holds the same views as Chambers and Economic Development. Supporting jobs and business growth directly impact our firms.
Professional development is a main focus of Ad Fed clubs and those who participated at this event, received incredible insight into how State legislation works and affects business.
A percentage of our members are connected to the film industry. The intent of a bill that failed to become law this past year was to provide tax incentive to the film industry so that Florida can compete more favorably with our neighbor to the north, Georgia. Their efforts have created a booming film industry, with over 33 television and film projects being produced. We see the success of “The Walking Dead,” and wonder why more productions happen north of our border. We also see talented people, friends and family, moving to Atlanta to find work.
In an example that seems absurd to those who see growth and jobs as a priority, Ben Afleck, A-list Hollywood actor, director, and producer, is building a replica of Ybor City, Tampa’s landmark historic community, in Brunswick, Ga., as we speak for a film about that city in the prohibition era.
AAF expressed our concerns, and each legislator helped us understand why they think the bill never made it to a final vote. Some issues take years to resolve. Some don’t see giving incentives to Hollywood as the role of the State. Others see it as an investment—offering incentives that even the playing field, with a result of bringing back creative, high paying work to the State of Florida.
Those who participated – and we had an amazing showing of volunteers this trip – got a crash course in how state government works and the value that advocacy has to our clubs, our businesses and our clients.
My takeaway is this: many feel powerless to change or effect what our government does or does not do. As one person, they’re right. But when you join a group of like-minded people who work together for clear goals, then government listens. Our reps were eager to hear what we had to say and probably appreciate the feedback. And having eighteen advertising execs, representing 1500 advertising members in one room is a lot different than trying to schedule a meet alone, with your Senate President. For your voice to be heard, you need to collaborate.
AAF is the unifying voice for the advertising industry.
We invite those who are in business—and those in the business of advertising to get more closely involved with AAF. Our goal is to grow business and opportunity by connecting companies with the talent each of our 21 clubs across the State of Florida and the Caribbean have to offer.
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Longbow is available to help you make in impact with your local legislators. From helping you schedule meets and touring the Capitol in Tallahassee—to communicating the value to your team, contact us for more info.