MEMPHIS DAILY NEWS | MICHAEL WADDELL
If there’s one thing the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Memphis chapter knows best, it’s that the industry it represents is constantly changing. Reflecting that change, the chapter welcomed new executive director Nikii Richey and swore in its new board members at a special luncheon event at FedExForum on June 18.
Richey took over as executive director in mid-June. Her advertising background includes creative services management, traffic management, art production, and office management at local companies Johnson|Graber, Retriever Graphics, and Thompson & Co. She received her bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations from the University of South Carolina and a master’s in journalism from the University of Memphis.
“Working at the church was a great job to have while raising two kids, who are now old enough to take care of themselves, but I really wanted to get back into the advertising industry,” said Richey, who prior to joining AAF Memphis worked for 12 years as office manager of Shady Grove Presbyterian Church. “When I heard about this opportunity, I just felt like it would be a perfect fit for me.”
In the past couple of years, Richey also co-founded Sister Supply, a local nonprofit organization that provides menstrual products to women who are homeless and/or living in poverty, and she directs Sister Supply’s marketing and community relations.
She also currently assists artist Maysey Craddock’s exhibit production, as well as curates art shows for local and regional artists.
With AAF Memphis, she plans to be very involved with social media to increase awareness of the industry, and she will support AAF Memphis officers and board of directors on all operational, membership, event and communications efforts.
The AAF Memphis chapter currently counts 185 members, including company members like FedEx Corp., the Memphis Grizzlies, Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp., Inferno, Harvest, and many others, as well as employees from ad agencies, web development companies, internal marketing departments, creative design shops and media outlets.
Events held throughout the year (primarily luncheons) at different locations across the city draw an average of 220 members.
“We bring in nationally acclaimed speakers that talk about a variety of topics related to the industry in order to provide some professional development at the local level,” said Andrea Wiley, outgoing AAF Memphis president and director of account management at DCA.
The group’s annual music-centric AAF Plug-in event in September is an after-hours/happy hour affair featuring four to five bands (consisting of advertising industry executives) and a guest speaker focusing on topics related to the music industry.
Its biggest event of the year is the American Advertising Awards held every February. Last year’s event at The Columns featured 768 local entries for 100 awards, and 500 professionals and students attended.
“In the last three years, we have transformed quite a bit in an effort to serve the creative community better,” Wiley said. “Since then we have increased membership by 60 percent, and attendance at our events is up more than 300 percent.”
Keys to the growth have been introducing the concept of company memberships and holding events at a variety of unique locations around the city.
A major new initiative for AAF Memphis is student relations, which should be enhanced by the chapter moving its offices into the University of Memphis Journalism Department building this summer.
“We have a longstanding relationship with the University of Memphis, and the past two years we engaged Memphis College of Art more than we have in the past,” said Wiley, who would like to see that expand to other schools like Christian Brothers University, Rhodes College and LeMoyne-Owen College. “Our new office space is an opportunity for advertising students to get more involved with AAF Memphis, which could lead to interviews for internships or entry-level positions with local companies.”
Next up on its event calendar, AAF Memphis will welcome guest speaker Wynne Tyree from Smarty Pants on Aug. 18 at the Rec Room.