Just about every major advertising award competition these days aims to be all-nation inclusive: foreign entries are de rigueur. But for the American Advertising Federation, it’s all about being homegrown: The organization proudly concentrates on the work and professionals of the United States. As such, the AAF presents the ADDYs—the only major all-American advertising awards show—while also honoring those who’ve gone the extra mile in promoting the industry stateside. In the following pages, we spotlight this year’s Gold ADDY winners. And below, we look at the select few who’ve earned special kudos from the AAF.
Mike Kelly, President and CEO, The Weather Channel Companies Wins the Barton A. Cummings Gold Medal Award
Mike Kelly’s father (also named Mike) was a newspaper executive who’d travel through the country on business. And during each visit, local ad clubs—members of the AAF—would ask him to speak. Upon returning home, “on the walls of our den,” Mike Jr. recalls, “he’d hang these plaques. Like, ‘The Des Moines Ad Club thanks Mike Kelly.’ I’d see tangible evidence growing up of giving back to the industry and how satisfying that could be.”
That being the case, the younger Mike Kelly must today feel very satisfied. In addition to helming The Weather Channel companies, Kelly has served as the AAF’s vice chair for corporate development for the Eastern U.S. (he currently serves on the group’s board of directors and executive committee). During his tenure, Kelly moved the organization forward considerably. He worked, for instance, to induct new corporate members. In fact, upon arriving at The Weather Channel, Kelly had the outfit join the AAF.
It was all this top-level commitment that earned Kelly the Barton A. Cummings Gold Medal Award—given for exceptional AAF volunteer work. “Mike is an amazing guy,” says Joanne Schecter, AAF’s executive vice president for club services. “His importance to the industry is what made him want to volunteer in the first place.”
Says Kelly, “To make an impact within the industry and help AAF, it helps to be in a position at a company where you have good relationships across the industry and some influence over what goes on.”
Betty Riehl Excellence in Service Award, JUNE CERRATO, Former Executive Director, AAF District 10, Houston
June Cerrato has certainly shown she can climb a ladder. From an administrative assistant in 1957 at the Houston ad agency Rives, Dyke and Co., Cerrato rose to media coordinator, buyer and, ultimately, to account executive. But really, it’s been her tireless efforts working for the AAF that has branded Cerrato a “living legend” by the organization.
True, Cerrato wound up working for the AAF in one of its few paid positions. But—as conditioned by the Betty Riehl award—Cerrato’s service in her posts (including District 10 club executive director) exceeded the duties in her job description. “June’s participation really reached beyond the call for her paid position,” says Schecter.
For Cerrato, though, it isn’t just her impressive resume or industry cheerleading that’s fulfilled her. She finds that one of the most rewarding gifts her extracurricular efforts have brought her are…connections.
“You just establish and keep good relationships and longtime friends,” Cerrato says. “I’ve known some of these people 40 years. And we still meet every month and we keep involved in projects. You continue to meet good people.”
Distinguished Advertising Educator Award, Roy Kelsey. Retired Public Relations Professor, Oklahoma State University
Those who can do, also teach. After making his mark for over two decades in advertising at
Oklahoma City’s Jordan Associates (he started as a copywrtter, then went on to account services and management), Roy Kelsey found he enjoyed talking to students—which led him to professorial positions for the past 14 years at several Oklahoma universities.
Aside from his excellent reputation as a teacher and researcher (and his track record while serving as president of the Oklahoma City Advertising Club), Kelsey’s been recognized for expanding his students’ advertising education through networking.