Ad 2 Austin Goes North
What is MYR?
Each year, Ad 2 chapters from across the U.S. get two opportunities to meet for collaboration, growth, and nerdy advertising jokes. The first, ADMERICA, is hosted by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and is typically held in June. During this event, Ad 2 National hosts a public service competition as well as a variety of breakout sessions and workshops for young advertising professionals. ADMERICA is seen by Ad 2 as a kickoff conference and is especially important for setting club goals for the upcoming fiscal year.
Mid-Year Retreat (MYR) is a different creature altogether – this fall conference is hosted by Ad 2 National and is the sole event of this scale held only for Ad 2 chapters. Although it’s a shorter event with a smaller crowd, the impact of MYR on each club’s momentum is immense. During MYR 2017, Ad 2 Austin was able to send a team of five (our largest yet!) to meet up with our advertising friends from all over the country in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The bonds formed with other Ad 2ers speak to the values of our organization, and the importance of these friendships became even more clear while we explored our motivation as active members during the retreat.
We Austinites were thrilled to be greeted by snow flurries as we landed in Minneapolis, and MYR was the perfect opportunity for us to pull out our “once-a-year” coats. After bundling up we headed out to meet the other chapters for a happy hour. That evening was an a joyful one, as we reunited with our friends from different regions and toasted to the awesome retreat ahead of us.
The next morning we made our way to Periscope (the agency, not the app – we learned this the hard way!), where the retreat was taking place. After a night downtown, we were relieved to see boxes of bagels and coffee carafes. Once we fueled up it was time to get started, beginning with a quick icebreaker. This warm-up got us thinking about how to proposition Ad 2 to a potential newcomer, hypothetically excluding event discounts from our memberships, since for many clubs discounts had become lucrative in recruiting.
Once we framed Ad 2 in our minds as much more than a source of happy hours, we carried on to breakout sessions where we were able to gain insight into other chapters’ events and operations. Madison, our current VP, was particularly excited to apply what we learned once we returned to Austin.
“... Most of all, I loved attending the breakout brainstorm sessions to strategize for the upcoming year ahead. We discussed successful events, public service and sponsorship strategies, communications best practices, and so much more. Each of us left with fresh ideas that we’re very excited to execute in the coming months. At the risk of sounding like a total cheese ball… Despite having a broken wrist, I’ve never felt more complete. Cheers to Ad 2!”
-Madison Scullin, 2017-18 Vice President
During the day we had some time to explore the Snapchat geofilters and Pictura photobooth provided by our national board. These little moments of group selfies, inside jokes from conferences past, and excitement from drinking the “Ad 2 Kool-Aid” are some of the defining pieces of the national Ad 2 puzzle. And this year our retreat held special significance, as it was the 70th anniversary of Ad 2! We broke up the day with a mini birthday party, complete with cupcakes and noisemakers. Even during our day of growth and reflection, we made time for fun and certainly embodied the MYR 2017 hashtag: #MinnesotaExtra.
After the birthday festivities, Ad 2 Minnesota pulled out all the stops with a panel discussion featuring employees from our host agency, Periscope. They gave some background on their day-to-day projects and showed us a few of their favorites, then they opened the floor for questions. We discussed topics like the logistics of working with social media influencers and maintaining integrity when faced with difficult clients. While hearing from these industry professionals was a treat, it was just as thrilling to hear the insightful questions voiced by fellow Ad 2 members. This was a room full of individuals destined to uncover answers and make things happen.
“...The biggest takeaway for me was that Ad 2 and the retreat are really a fellowship for future leaders. Members are provided with a platform to take charge, and they are empowered with guidance and support from other members across the nation. Beyond learning how other chapters implement innovative initiatives and programs to help their clubs grow, I was especially impressed by how natural and at home everyone felt with each other. For most of us, this was the first time we met each other, but it didn’t seem like that at all. There is something about being part of Ad 2 that creates a bond like none other.”
-Susy Horrigan, 2017-18 President
Do Things People Love
After pizza and the necessary group photo, we dove back into brainstorming and a situational activity. Each group was given a hypothetical club status that needed rectifying, such as being inundated with student members while alienating young professionals. We tackled each situation and found new avenues to explore, then we presented our ideas to the larger group. Once more, we found ourselves highlighting the benefits of membership outside of the happy hours and discounted events.
Two distinct points rose above the others throughout the retreat:
First of all, we needed to emphasize the impact of being part of a club based not on job function, but on passion for the industry. This opens membership up to individuals from varying careers and backgrounds, which in turn enriches the quality of the relationships and ideas each club generates.
Secondly, we needed to bring the experience and emotions of these national conferences back to our local chapters in order to reinforce the idea that Ad 2 is a valuable nationwide network. Chris, one of our board members in attendance this year, was blown away by the impact of ADMERICA and couldn’t wait for his first MYR experience.
“Not to be dramatic, but this Mid-Year was the best MYR ever (even though it was my first one). In all seriousness, I don’t think you can truly get the most out of Ad 2 without attending these retreats. Being able to connect with young professionals from across the country is so valuable, and getting to discuss how to better your chapter and committee efforts with so many talented advertisers was an incredible experience. It really does feel a lot like coming home from summer camp when you leave, except this time with a bit of a hangover.”
-Chris Welhausen, 2017-18 Public Service Co-Chair
The business aspect of the retreat came to a close with a presentation from the Ad 2 National Secretary, Katie Dirks. She discussed the importance of connecting with our membership through personal touches in our communication efforts, which reinforced the Periscope mantra, “Do Things People Love.”
Ultimately, Ad 2 is a nonprofit organization that must maintain membership numbers in order to function. But rather than build a member base with the tired promise of professional networking opportunities, it is necessary to create real, meaningful relationships – in other words, true friendships – with our members.
Each club must earn the trust and affection of its constituents by doing things people love and acting, in general, on a foundation of respect and compassion. Our former Ad 2 Austin President and current Executive Advisor, Dax, perfectly described the love that has influenced his seven-year membership.
“This MYR was really significant for me. Not only because we brought our biggest group ever from Ad 2 Austin, but also because it was my last MYR before I age out of Ad 2. The experiences never get old and getting to spend a long weekend with 60+ of my peers, who are all amazing people, is something that’s tough to put into words. The fellowship, education, idea-sharing, and good times shared make the MYR experience like nothing else. Every Ad 2 trip I walk away with so many great contacts and friends… I’m so thankful for that.”
-Dax Patton, former President and 2017-18 Executive Advisor
Back to the Real World
Once our hard work was completed it was time to relax and enjoy our last evening together. We regrouped at McKinney Roe for an incredible buffet dinner that resulted in a lot of food babies. Of course our determination to leave our mark on Minneapolis overcame the fullness of our bellies, so we set off for a night of Minnesota camaraderie – Grape Apes included. Our bar-hopping evening came to an end at Gay 90’s, where our entire troupe of advertising aficionados paid their respects to a squad of fabulous drag queens. We completed our 2017 Mid-Year Retreat in true Ad 2 fashion – dancing onstage to the Backstreet Boys.
An early Sunday flight meant that Ad 2 Austin had to miss the group brunch, but we made up for it with an immediate stop at Whataburger upon landing. Susy, our fearless leader and a former New York resident, even solidified her status as an Austinite by eating her first Whataburger meal. Our return home meant we were now back in action, and we hit the ground running!
Since settling back in Austin, we’ve started to implement some key takeaways from the retreat. Our last night in Minneapolis put on display the unique bonds built through Ad 2 and reaffirmed everything we discussed during our day of assessing and realigning – that members should be treated as friends, with compassion and understanding. The impact of MYR is still fresh in our minds and our board is determined to continue the momentum we brought back with us.
If you’ve been nodding along while reading about our experiences and want to hear more, we are always happy to share what we love about this organization. Take a moment to follow us on social media and peruse our website for club updates – we keep a busy calendar and would love to chat with you at our next event! From Austin to Minneapolis and all the chapters between, there are endless reasons #WhyAd2.