Blog Board Events


After more than a year of meeting remotely, we were thrilled to kick off the 2021-2022 club year with a chance to share some exciting things we have in store for the coming year. The Annual Meeting took place on Tuesday, September 28 at Big Ditch Brewing Company. We had more than 40 returning and prospective members join us to hear from our committee heads about what to expect in the upcoming months from AAF Buffalo.

President Caroline Buchas kicked off the evening’s proceedings before passing to the head of each committee to give the audience a glimpse of what’s in store for the club this year.

Here are the board members we heard from:

  • McKenna Murray on how to become a member and reap the rewards of epic member benefits while supporting the community
  • Jeff Quinn on upcoming events and exciting new programs
  • Noah Herman on new educational programs just for our students
  • Maura Noonan on where you can get the latest communications from the club and engage with us
  • Chelsea Carney on the upcoming American Advertising Awards and how we will top last year (if that’s even possible!)


Be sure to mark your calendars for our AdWeek lineup that’s full of professional development and networking opportunities within the advertising and marketing community. You’ll see some repeat favorites like Speed Networking and a Skillshop, but you my be interested in a brand new type of event that gives you a chance to tour the Seneca One tower and learn more about 43 North. Of course, you can also look forward to the student Brand Hack, upcoming Skillshops and the Spotlight Speaker series, as well as the AAAs.


Access our member-exclusive events and discounts by renewing your membership or becoming a member today. We’re looking forward to another great year, see you all soon!

Blog Events


What a long strange trip it’s been! We made it through the Zoom calls, muted mics, hybrid spaces and new challenges. AAF Buffalo wanted to thank our amazing members for sticking it out through another unprecedented year by getting us back together again for one last hurrah before rounding out the club year.

To thank you for your support and celebrate all that we’ve achieved, our members-only happy hour took place on Tuesday, July 27 at Big Ditch Brewing Company. We were able to ease back into meeting in person safely without skipping a beat and finally catch up after so long being apart. Plus, we had an extra special cause for celebration…

AAF Buffalo was named Club of the Year for the third year in a row and we couldn’t have done it without our amazing members! Thank you to our members and community for supporting us over the years and attending events that bring us together. 


That’s a wrap on this year! We’ll see you next time.

Blog Board Latest News

AAF Asks: Favorite 2021 Super Bowl Ad?

Well folks, 2020’s football season was one to remember for many reasons. The Buffalo Bills won their first playoff game in over twenty years, fans were largely not allowed in stadiums to cheer on their teams, and Tom Brady (finally) left New England for greener pastures. Although the Bills didn’t make it all the way, the board still tuned in to watch the big game this past Sunday. Check out their favorite ads from throughout the night.

As always, GO BILLS.

McKenna Murray – Alexa’s Body, Amazon

Maybe I’m a book nerd, or simply a romantic… but anything with Michael B. Jordan’s dulcet audiobook tones has my vote. As someone who has never been interested in owning an Alexa, I sure thought about it. 

Noteworthy mention of Come Together by M&M. They did a great job of incorporating relatable and timely pain points: Karens, gender reveal parties, even mansplaining “mansplaining” — and did so in a funny way. Throwing in Dan Levy was icing on the cake (or, peanut butter in the M&M?)

Jeff Quinn – Wayne’s World & Cardi B, UberEats

Playing off an old school bit from Wayne’s World was a great combo. There were more than enough great advertisements to choose from, but UberEats leads the charge. I was also fond of the Paramount+ commercials!

Adina Pera 5 to 9, SQUARESPACE

Over the last few months, I have discovered this newfound obsession with Dolly Parton, so when I saw this spot I immediately loved it. The message speaks to so many and provides the nudge to continue to pursue your dreams and embrace the side hustle. Also, let’s not forget about those great M&T Bank spots that Crowley Webb shot and produced!

Maura Noonan – Certain is Better, Rocket Mortgage

Normally I lean more towards the commercials that make me cry, but this Tracy Morgan spot had me actually laughing out loud. Morgan on his own is awesome, but I also loved the cameos from Dave Bautista and Liza Koshy. I think Rocket did a great job of balancing the humor, while ultimately still getting their point across and marketing their new app. When buying a home, certain really is better. Honorable mention would be the Paramount+ Sweet Victory commercial because I love a good Survivor torch moment with Jeff Probst.

Mary AmentaThe Neighborhood, DoorDash

Nothing like bringing back some childhood memories and the iconic characters from Sesame Street and mixing it with the modern days of delivery food services! Personally, I thought they did a great job in tying in “the neighborhood” theme highlighting the different things you can get delivered, which is pretty much anything at this point in time. Nice little mention at the end too that for every order, $1.00 would be donated to Sesame Workshop!

Katie Hazel Last Year’s Lemons, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade

I like the way that Bud Lite Seltzer Lemonade played off of the “When life gives you lemons” expression and showed people being bombarded with lemons raining down from the sky. It was funny and timely for how people feel about 2020. 

Second Favorite: Certain is Better, Rocket Mortgage

I also really liked the Tracy Morgan Rocket Mortgage spot. It was funny and really did a great job of being humorous while still selling the app the entire spot.

Third Favorite: Jessica Long’s Story, Toyota

The Toyota Team USA spot was captivating and gave me chills. You were engaged from the start and it kept your attention while bringing awareness to this special family and Olympian, Jessica Long. The art direction was beautiful as well.

Alex KeoganWill Ferrell, General Motors

Although it was a very close call, I have a soft spot for the comedic genius of Will Ferrell. The focus on sustainable energy, American made, and millennial comedy got me hard. There were some fantastic clap-back commercials from Norway, go watch!

Cody Andres- Wayne’s World & Cardi B.,UberEats

Playing off the vintage Saturday Night Live “Wayne’s World” skits, Uber Eats, “Eat Local” ad calls for communities to support their local restaurants during these challenging times. I felt like this ad really hits home with our strong food community here in Buffalo. I found the ad to be absolutely hilarious with Mike Myers and Dana Carvey re-take of a classic. Rapper Cardi B. was the perfect feature, as it really helped expand the audience age range in my opinion. I think they really hit the mark with this one. Excellent!

Samantha Lonczak – Certain is Better, Rocket Mortgage

Tracy Morgan Rocket Mortgage spot was one of the highlights of the game. Well first who doesn’t love Tracy Morgan? He planned to behave recklessly because he’s “pretty sure” everything will turn out okay, I think this was funny and a creative way to sell the app. The pandemic has brought new meaning and significance to the place where we live. Honorable mention goes to General Motors’ “No Way, Norway” spot where Will Ferrell hilariously sets out to give Norwegians a piece of his mind.

Caroline Jette – Let’s Grab a Beer, Anheuser-Busch

Although not a funny one, the Anheuser-Busch ‘Let’s Grab a Beer’ commercial really stuck out to me this year. It touched on a lot of low points of 2020, as well as highlighting what a lot of us still miss, something as simple as grabbing a beer with anyone. Anheuser-Busch found a creative way to subtly incorporate a multitude of their beer brands throughout the ad, keeping the focus on the experience more than the brand you choose. Overall, I found it relatable and welcomed the realistic approach to the ad during our socially distanced Super Bowl.

Josh GumulakLast Year’s Lemons, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade

Paying homage to all that was 2020, as well as an all-around great phrase, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade put together a great ad for the Big Game. Funny, candid and sarcastic – the ad was extremely on-brand for a beer that doesn’t take itself too serious, even when expanding into one of the most competitive categories there is in modern-day alcohol shenanigans. 

What made it even better was the paid placement coming back from commercial break when they commissioned @dudewithsign to be spotted in the stands, beverage in-hanCd, holding a homemade sign sporting the tagline. Great complimentary placements!

Shannon Polvino – Alexa’s Body. Amazon

I needed some serious humor after all that was 2020, and the commercial for Amazon’s Alexa accomplished just that. The spot was very well-produced and featured the incredibly attractive Michael B. Jordan portraying himself as Alexa. I was in stitches the whole time and am absolutely purchasing an Alexa. I also appreciated the Drake from State Farm commercial. State Farm commercials have been a staple this football season, so adding stars to the mix (Paul Rudd is my favorite human) added a freshness to the series.

Announcements Blog Latest News

We’re Back-to-Back Champs!

At the beginning of the 2019-2020 club year, we made it a Board goal to build off of last year’s momentum and bring home back-to-back Club of the Year awards.

Well, fellow advertising/marketing/communications friends, we did it! AAF Buffalo is officially the 2020 Division 2 AAF Club of the Year, and President Josh Gumulak is President of the Year. 💪

This year, AAF National restructured the Club Achievement Awards, condensing the total number of categories down from eight to five. In addition to Club of the Year, AAF Buffalo also won awards in all five categories

  • Club Operations (first place)
  • Cornerstone Initiatives and Events (first place)
  • Membership Development and Communications (first place)
  • Programs (second place)
  • Public Service (first place)

While the long-form award submissions are crafted by members of the AAF Buffalo Board, the content we write about wouldn’t exist without the dedication and participation of our members — aka you and the Western New York advertising community.


Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the years, attended events in the middle of snowstorms, and filled out a post-event survey to give us feedback on ways to enhance the member experience. You’re the reason our award submissions always max-out the page limit and include new, unique details year-over-year.

With that said, it’s time for us to go celebrate offline. Enjoy your summer and be sure to keep an eye out for announcements about membership renewal and next club year’s event plans!

Announcements Blog Events Latest News Speaker Series Students

A Message from the President on Covid-19

Hi Members, 

By now, it seems like you’ve received this email hundreds of times. From your favorite store. From your airline of choice. From that one startup you met at SXSW six years ago. 

While this one will detail much of the same — cancelations, diligence, and caution — my hope is it will also be a bit more personal, as our extremely close-knit community we know and love is being directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic here in Western New York. 

We’ve been monitoring the pandemic as it continues to unfold, and makes its way into our beloved community. In doing so, we made the decision to cancel all our events scheduled in April, both professional and student. 

For pros, this includes our third Spotlight Speaker of the year, Liz Jackson, who was scheduled to join us on April 2nd. It also includes a brand new event that we were ecstatic about, Laugh Ad Loud, which was planned for April 23rd. 

For students, Portfolio Review scheduled for April 18th is canceled. In brighter news, our Don Nichols scholarship competition remains as scheduled with entries due March 27th, however, all entries are to be submitted digitally only rather than dropped off at Crowley Webb. Students, if you have questions, we encourage you to reach out to your school’s ambassador or to us directly at

All those who purchased tickets for the events detailed here will be issued a full refund. For those with the Spotlight Speaker Series Pass, we hope to reschedule Liz’s talk, where we will honor your series pass. If that’s not possible, we will address more robust reimbursement options at that time. 

In the meantime, we are exploring creative ways to possibly bring one or more of these events to life digitally. More info will follow in the coming weeks. 

We’re continuing to closely monitor this global event as it directly impacts our community, as we expect each of you surely are as well. 

More updates will certainly follow. Until then, we urge all members of our community, in advertising and beyond, to work from home if at all possible, be diligent about social distancing, and responsibly support local businesses to the best of your ability.

On behalf of our entire advertising community, I want to thank you for your continued support of what we do. Our hearts go out to all those affected by this pandemic. We look forward to reconvening at a happy hour on the other side of this.

Josh Gumulak
President, AAF Buffalo

Blog Students

BrandHack 2020: Family Promise of Western New York

The fifth installment of our BrandHack event featured a local non-profit looking for a new postcard, brochure, and social media campaign to generate awareness for their organization. Family promise of Western New York is an emergency shelter for homeless families. They help families experiencing homeless stay together during tough times. This event was hosted at Daemen College in Amherst, New York.

Five teams of students from Daemen College, Buffalo State College, Villa Mariam and Hilbert College were tasked with creating these final deliverables. Leading the teams were seasoned professionals from the area – Samantha Lonczak from Fifteen, Caroline Jette from Delaware North, Andrea LoPiccolo from Fifteen, Holly Norris from White Bicycle, and Cody Andrees from the martin group. These designers and art directors provided guidance and advice for the teams from brainstorming and development through execution.

The format remained the same from 2019. Teams had five hours to organize and create their ideas before pitching them to our two judges, as well as the representatives from Family Promise of Western New York.

Our professional judge for this year’s event, President and CEO of Luminis Tim Bouchard,  offered his expertise throughout the event, and made sure the teams were on track and accomplishing what they had to on the tight deadline. While representing Family Promise of Western New York, Annalyse Paulsen provided the students with valuable information as to the various needs of FPWNY, as well as their process for working with various individuals.

Each team beat the clock and produced some well-executed, unique work along the way. Congrats to all the students and captains for producing another great event!

WINNER: Hilbert College captained by Holly Norris
Check out the work!


AAF Asks: Favorite Super Bowl Ad?

Though the Buffalo Bills weren’t playing in the Super Bowl this year, our board still had plenty to pay attention to. Below are their favorite ads throughout the night.

Oh, and GO BILLS.

Jeff Quinn – Groundhog Day, Jeep

In three words, “Bill F*cking Murray”. It is always great to combine a classic movie with a new promotion, also while bringing in an all-time great comedian. While this is my favorite commercial I think Budweiser – “Typical American” & Google – “Loretta” are worthy of a nod when talking about great commercials from the 2020 Super Bowl. Go Bills!

David Seifert – Smaht Pahk, Hyundai 

TL;DR – solid mix of celebrity cast members here. I found the humor pretty enjoyable. Wasn’t too obnoxious, and I’m surprised I wasn’t annoyed by this. Reminded me of the Dunkin’ Donuts SNL skit from a few years ago, which is one I enjoyed. A close second for me was Tide’s multi-spot story with Charlie Day. Also, #BabyNut should have never been approved.  

Greg Pokriki – Loretta, Google

In a society so simultaneously suspicious of and dependent on technology, I thought this Google ad struck the right tone, lending a helping hand to an elderly widower clinging to the memories of his since passed wife. It was the only ad at my Super Bowl party that made everyone stop the bathroom breaks and snack runs to sit in silence and give undivided attention to the spot.   

Ally Ruiz Balcerzak – Love Takes Action, New York Life Insurance

It’s easy to go from heartfelt to cheesy in a Super Bowl spot, but New York Life Insurance nailed the balance with their Ancient Greek definitions of love. The narration, combined with the brief vignettes, is a great example of “show don’t tell” and brought the viewer’s own memories into the spot. This one stuck with me long after it aired — and didn’t get stuck on a semi-obnoxious loop in my head (looking at you Oikos…).

Jordan Lema – Groundhog Day, Jeep

An ad that is an extension of a classic film, that plays on the actual holiday and stars one of the most amazing personalities of all time is an instant classic. I WANTED to see this ad and I’m glad that did. Perfect. Also, the groundhog character was very lovable.
Honorable mention: All People Are Tax People (Remix), Turbo Tax 

Katie Hazel – Groundhog Day, Jeep

Jeep nailed it with this spot. You were smiling the whole time and they got to feature the Jeep throughout. The brilliance of capitalizing on actual groundhog day makes it special and one of a kind. Bill Murray was amazing. The other spots I loved were Google’s “Loretta” commercial – it brought tears to my eyes, Hyundai’s “Smaht Pahk”, and the Alexa spot with Ellen and Portia gave me a good laugh.

Josh Gumulak – Loretta, Google

I spent most of today thinking I was going to write about Hyundai’s superbly-funny, “Smaht Pahk,” which was unequivocally yesterday’s funniest spot. But, I keep coming back to Google’s spot. 

Who doesn’t enjoy a great love story? The picture Google painted in only 90 seconds was as vivid as any advertising I can remember. Plus, it showcased a number of the Google Assistant’s more impressive features throughout the entire spot. Lastly, from an evergreen perspective, it lends itself as a how-to manual for the product on its YouTube page.

Most importantly – it ends with a dog. How are more people not talking about this?

Other favorites: Amazon’s Before Alexa, Snickers’ Fix the World, Microsoft’s Be the One, Resee’s Take 5’s Rock, and Facebook’s Ready to Rock… it was a solid year for $5.6M a pop. 

Casey Kelly – Cool Ranch, Doritos

Sam Elliott’s moustache about 30 seconds in, nuff’ said.

McKenna Murray – Smaht Pahk, Hyundai 

Hyundai set the bar early in the night with it Smaht Pahk ad highlighting the Sonata’s remote parking assist feature. Its dialog, cast, and wicked good humor drove it home ~hands free~ and left me even more in love with John Krasinski.
Other favorites: Google’s Loretta, Players Coalition’s Corey Jones story, Rocket Mortgage’s Comfortable/Jason Momoa

Maura Noonan – Loretta, Google

Hey Google, pass me the tissues. I personally love a Super Bowl ad that can make me cry into my chicken wing dip (as should everyone), and this year’s Google spot was no exception. During a time where digital assistants are growing at a rapid pace, I felt Google positioned themselves as not just another robot voice, but instead as an extension of your daily life. The ad was well done that while the brand was definitely a focus, it wasn’t the forefront of the story. Making connections with your target audience is more important than ever, and Google nailed it with this one.
Honorable mention: Jeep. Bill Murray, all day.

Colleen Colkitt – Before Alexa, Amazon 

The laughs from this ad could almost make you forget Amazon is listening to all your thoughts.  Just kidding. They featured an embroidery cross stitch just seconds into the ad, which is definitely something that’s always “recommended for me” on my Amazon homepage and really caught my attention. But then, throwing the flaming log out the window to lower the temperature? Nothing but laughs from me. As someone looking for a commercial that’s not too heavy and doesn’t make me ugly cry (*cough* Google), this was the ad for me.



We’re Club of the Year!

After a year off the podium, we are back on top as the Division 2 AAF Club of the Year and former President Tim Bouchard is President of the Year.

Back in June, Tim, VP of Communications Ally Ruiz Balcerzak, and now-Treasurer Alex Keogan attended the AAF national conference, Admerica, to learn some stuff about club operations and accept the stack of awards we won during the 2018-19 club year. 

In addition to Club of the Year, AAF Buffalo won a Mosaic award for our commitment to diversity in the advertising community, and also brought home awards for:

  • Club Operations (first place)
  • Advertising Education (first place)
  • Diversity & Multicultural Initiatives (first place)
  • Programming (first place)
  • Public Service (first place)
  • Membership (first place)
  • Communications (second place)

When all was said and done, we added nine plaques to our imaginary award wall. Thank you to everyone who came out to events and supported us over the past year, and the years prior. Without you, we’d have nothing to write about when submitting our award packets. 

And now, sit back, get ready to renew your memberships, and start buying your event tickets so we can bring home back-to-back Club of the Year awards. 

Blog Stuff

Skillshop Recap: Influencing the Influencer

Last month, AAF Buffalo hosted a members-only skillshop on the value of influencer outreach.

Hosted at Crowley Webb’s first-floor bar, Local 86, PR veterans Andrea Gallagher and Katie Briggs took a dive into the hottest new marketing trend, using real-world examples and exclusive insights from the influencers themselves.

Some notable tips and tricks:

  • An influencer is anyone who can change (or influence) thinking or behavior.
  • Influencer marketing focuses communication efforts on key individuals who can influence consumers’ thinking or behavior.
  • Influencers can be traditional media, subject matter experts, celebrities, bloggers, and social media users and advocates.
  • Influencer outreach can help your organization with brand awareness, expand social reach, increase sales, as well as share education, insights, and content.
  • Influence isn’t just having a lot of followers—it’s driven by expertise and credibility.

Stay tuned for more information on our next skillshop, coming for you during Ad Week 2019 (October 7-10).


Get to know the leaders of the Spring Skillshop.

Andrea Gallagher is the Public Relations Director at Crowley Webb, bringing 10 years of public relations and corporate communications experience to the role. Before joining the Crowley team, Andrea most recently served as the Director of Marketing & Public Relations at the Buffalo Museum of Science, and was previously an account director at global PR firm, Weber Shandwick, leading integrated multi-disciplinary campaigns for top consumer lifestyle and technology brands.

Katie Briggs is a public relations professional with experience in developing PR programs for local to global companies across diverse industries. In a new role at Praxis—Crowley Webb’s patient recruitment division—Katie is charged with growing its advocacy outreach capabilities through working with advocacy groups, patients, and physicians to generate awareness for clinical research studies.

AdWeek Blog Events Stuff

Recap: Speed Networking, Ad Week Edition

Once upon a time, 90 percent of our events consisted of just showing up at a bar and chatting with people. Now, our events are focused around shared experiences, like industry speakers, skill-based lectures, and mentoring the next generation of advertisers. We love it, and based on those surveys we send you periodically, you seem to be on board too.

But we missed the freeform networking, and members from smaller companies started mentioning it’s hard to network at some of our largest events of the year. To top it off, it was becoming commonplace to hear someone ask a friend at the agency across the street, “Know of any freelancers looking for projects right now?”

Based on all that, we set out to do something about it. Cue the creation of Speed Networking: Ad Week Edition.

We had no clue if it would work. Networking is a love-hate relationship for a lot of people. But we knew the need was there, so we decided to give it a shot. If it flopped, then at least we could show up to the Member Appreciation party and say we tried. If it worked, well, that’s why there’s a colon built into the naming structure already.

On Wednesday, October 17th, 20 people showed up to Buffalo Distilling Co. down in Larkinville, grabbed a drink, and awkwardly sat down at tables across from one another. One hour and ten rounds of self-imposed networking later, attendees lingered at the bar to continue conversations and discuss projects more in-depth.

On paper, it looked like a success. Ten companies, including six agencies, sent familiar faces (at least to anyone who has interviewed in the local ad scene lately). And ten freelancers with skill sets ranging from copywriting to videography to media education brought their A-game and elevator pitches. No one quit halfway and dozens of business cards were passed across tables.

The real proof came a few days later, when emails and text messages started trickling in from participants on both sides, thanking us for hosting the event. Real business connections were made that night, and actual working relationships had begun as a result.

Keep an eye out for more Speed Networking events in the future. If you want to see a different match-up, (perhaps companies and agencies looking for students interested in internships) let us know.