AAF Roanoke Celebrates the Best in Professional, Student Advertising

The best of advertising was honored Saturday, March 2, 2024, at the Western Virginia American Advertising Awards Gala in Roanoke. More than 200 were in attendance to celebrate creative excellence in the region during the awards show at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center. 

In addition to creative awards, AAF Roanoke awarded a Silver Medal to Bill O’Connor. The award is AAF’s lifetime achievement award.  

The annual awards competition had 134 professional entries from agencies, firms, in-house creatives, and individuals, as well as 67 student entries from Virginia Tech, Liberty University, James Madison University, George Mason University and Radford University. 

Virginia Tech Dining Services took home the top professional honor of the year, the Howard Packett Award for Creative Excellence (AAF Roanoke’s Best in Show) for Chili Challenge 2023. The campaign also won a Gold ADDY award. 

Branch Group earned the Best of Print honor for Girl Hard Hat Sticker Series. 

The Best of Electronic went to Cry for Parkland Direct — A Greener Future.  

The Best of Digital was awarded to Uncork-it, Inc. for Why We Sing – The International Singers.  

The Mosaic ADDY, for work showcasing diversity in advertising, went to Red Velocity Inc. for The Roanoke Jewish Foundation – The Triumph of Hope.

Judge’s Choice awards went to Buzz4Good for “It’s Here!” Roanoke, Virginia; Anstey Hodge Advertising Group for AH 20th Anniversary Party in a Box; and AAF Roanoke for Maddy’s Awards Carrier Typewriter.

The American Advertising Awards is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting more than 40,000 entries every year in local competitions. AAF Roanoke’s Western Virginia American Advertising Awards competition is the first of a three-tier, national competition. Concurrently, across the country, local entrants vie to win ADDY Awards — recognition as the very best creative work in their markets. At the second tier, local ADDY winners compete against winners from other local clubs in one of 15 district competitions. District ADDY winners are then forwarded to the third tier, the national stage of the American Advertising Awards. Entry in the local competition is the first step toward winning a National ADDY. 

AAF Roanoke was also proud to award two special awards to leaders in the advertising and marketing industry. The recipients have demonstrated outstanding contributions to the field of advertising and marketing in the past year, and AAF Roanoke congratulates them for the work they do.  

Advertising Person of the Year was awarded to Monica Millner. Millner created the Fishburn Park Advertising Awards this year to help elementary students find a love for creative ideas and understand the opportunities available to them in advertising careers; complete with an in-school competition and awards gala at the Grandin Theatre.

The AAF Roanoke Shine Award recognizes the outstanding work by an organization or individual in the area of community or public service. John Cornthwait is the recipient of the 2024 Shine Award. From his work educating college students, to providing nonprofit and pro bono marketing services, Cornthwait dedicated much of 2023 to helping the greater arts community including the Roanoke Arts Commission and Restoration Housing, among others. 

New for 2024 are the 2 Under 32 Awards to recognize a young professional and student who are rising stars in the industry. Caileigh Bravo (Boyd Pearman Photography) was the winner in the professional division and Rachael Quan (Virginia Tech) won the student award.

American Advertising Award Professional Winners

All gold awards will be submitted to AAF District 3 for further competition.

American Advertising Award Student Winners

Bill O’Connor Earns Silver Medal

The Silver Medal is AAF Roanoke’s lifetime achievement award. It recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to advertising and who have been active in furthering the industry’s standards, creative excellence and responsibility in areas of social concern. The award serves to enhance the image of advertising by recognizing a locally well-known person for his or her advertising and community involvement. 

Bill O’Connor was a mainstay of the industry and demonstrated creative excellence across his 44 years in the ad business. His work was refined and had a design aesthetic that was recognizable. He demonstrated a high-level of creativity in business as well — bringing inventiveness and resourcefulness when looking at business decisions.

O’Connor was a strong supporter of young talent in the industry throughout his career, giving new faces a chance to make it in the industry. He helped some of today’s ad leaders and fellow Silver Medalists get their starts including Gary Gilmore, Todd Marcum, Jim Dudley, John Anstey, David Hodge and Carolyn Kiser.

O’Connor may be best known for some of his pro bono work, including the “This Much Love Changes Lives” campaign for the United Way of the Roanoke Valley in 1999, which raised nearly $7 million, the largest campaign in history for the organization.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. 

See all photos from the event. Thanks, WFXR TV!