2020 American Advertising Awards

American Advertising Federation of Baltimore

What better way to celebrate our own industry than inviting Baltimore’s creative community to tumble down the rabbit hole and join us in Wonderland?

More than 300 professionals came together to recognize creative excellence with accolades, whimsicality…and a bit of madness.

The American Advertising Federation of Baltimore (AAFB) holds the annual American Advertising Awards to recognize the Baltimore region’s talented creative community. Nationwide, the competition attracts nearly 35,000 professional and student entries each year through local club competitions.

More than 300 professionals came together to recognize creative excellence with accolades, whimsicality…and a bit of madness.

Working with the AAFB, Novak Birch sought to plan and host the 2020 live awards event. We were tasked with the following:

  • Event theme, including branding, signage, video, music, lighting, furniture, and décor.
  • Event planning and management, including venue and catering selection, recruitment and coordination of judges and speakers, and vendor coordination.
  • Event production, including the design, fabrication, set-up, and dismantle of all themed décor and installations.
  • Driving award submissions.
  • Generating ticket sales and sponsorships.

More than 300 professionals came together to recognize creative excellence with accolades, whimsicality…and a bit of madness.

We planned and hosted the AAFB’s 46th annual awards event, including:

  • Event Theme: Since 2020 marked 100 years of the AAFB, which was originally founded as the Women’s Ad Club, we wanted to mark this milestone and commemorate the women who blazed the path for marketers to come. Inspired by Alice’s journey and the madness of the creative industry, we developed the “AAFB in Wonderland” theme and chose Port Discovery Children’s Museum as the venue.
  • Event Branding & Production: We designed, wrote, fabricated, and constructed an enchanting space that invited guests to celebrate the industry, which—much like Alice—grows, shrinks, and continuously adjusts to transform nonsense into reality. The stimulating space at Port Discovery let guests explore, interact, and literally tumble down the rabbit hole via the four-story slide. The experience included the following:
    • At the center of the cocktail area, we featured a custom-designed and fabricated, life-size display of Alice falling down the rabbit hole with spinning spirals, clocks with moving hands, dangling books, and dynamic lighting. Above, we projected the first movie adaptation of the book—an eerie, silent, black-and-white British film from 1903.
    • We set dining tables and cocktail tables with handmade tea party centerpieces, including clocks, books, teacups, teapots, playing cards, flowers, and framed quotes from the book.
    • We designed, wrote, and fabricated whimsical wayfinding signage, bar signs, giant playing cards, and menu boards.
    • We custom-crafted an oversized flamingo croquet game and set it up in the museum’s sport court.
    • We designed and fabricated the awards stage, which included a dimensional, lit Wonderland backdrop and two 10’ x 14’ LED screens that played the program throughout the awards presentation.
    • Guest favors were branded, etched drinking glasses tied with ornate bottle opener keys featuring messaging from the book.
    • The themed menu included “eat me” cakes for dessert and “drink me” potions at the bar.
  • Event Planning & Management: We managed the run-of-show and awards presentation, including on-site set-up of the stage, two 10’ x 14’ LED screens showing a video announcing the winners of each award, lighting, sound, and all displays and décor. We also handled all vendor management and venue staff coordination.
  • Website: We designed a web presence to be hosted on the AAFB website, where people could find information on the 2020 show, buy tickets, and learn about sponsorship opportunities.
  • Social Media & Email Outreach Campaign: We designed, wrote, and developed a series of 13 intriguing, animated videos and distributed them via social media and email to drive award submissions, generate ticket sales, and recruit sponsors.
  • Iconoclast Award: As a nod to the AAFB’s centennial and its origin as the Women’s Ad Club, we worked with them to create and present the first annual Katherine Mahool Fowke Iconoclast Award to a pioneering female leader in the industry. In addition, during cocktail hour, we displayed a video showcasing the club’s most significant female-led accomplishments over the past 100 years.
  • Program Books: We designed and wrote branded program books that listed all award winners. The 95-page books featured vibrant colors, eccentric-meets-whimsical designs, and digitally stamped holographic foil.


More than 300 professionals came together to recognize creative excellence with accolades, whimsicality…and a bit of madness.

  • The AAFB received 251 professional and three student entries. They awarded 18 gold ADDYs and 32 silver ADDYs to agencies, production houses, and in-house marketing teams, as well as two student ADDYs.
  • More than 300 advertising and marketing professionals attended the show.
  • The event received media coverage in regional publications.
  • Our work was recognized by the Summit Creative Awards, winning bronze in the Social Media Campaign category.
  • The event won a silver American Advertising Award in the Cross-Platform category for Advertising Industry Self-Promotion, Ad Club or Marketing Club.

Select photos courtesy of Jonathan Mount.

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Novak Birch

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