Events Students


Each year, AAF Buffalo hosts a scholarship competition honoring the late Buffalo great, Don Nichols. Don Nichols began teaching at the Albright Art School. He founded its Graphic Design Program in 1950 and brought it to UB where, until his death on July 7, 1987, he served as the program’s head and an extraordinarily dedicated teacher. He educated hundreds of graphic designers, a number of whom attained national prominence. Nichols received the Osborn Award for Creative Excellence from the Art Directors/ Communicators of Buffalo and the Chancellor’s Award  for Teaching from UB in 1982.

The scholarship competition was open to all Western New York undergraduates in design, writing, communications, illustration, photography, and fine arts. This year’s theme had students reimagine their take on the year 2020. Entries were judged by a panel of professionals from Crowley Webb. And the results are in.

Please join us in congratulation this year’s winners!

Events Industry Updates Speaker


“Together we will see it through”

If you’ve been going for a lot of walks in the neighborhood lately (because what else has there been to do?), we’re sure you have spotted these flags hanging in the doorways and windows of your neighbor’s homes created by local pennant manufacturer, Oxford Pennant. The message “together we will see it through” is more than just a feel-good statement. These words gave us something to smile about during a time when many of us were feeling scared, lonely, anxious, and a host of other unsettling emotions over the last 13+ months.  So first, we would like to sincerely thank Oxford Pennant for helping us bond together as a community, while instilling in a hope, resiliency, and a sprinkle of joy when we needed it most.

On Tuesday, April 27th, AAF President, Josh Gumulak and board member Sarah Warner had the pleasure of interviewing Dave Horesh, co-founder of Oxford Pennant at Jordan Lema’s Lemur Studios on Main Street downtown. And while we were right across the street from the Oxford Pennant store, the interview was conducted virtually (what times we’re livin’ in) so that Dave could carry on his fatherly duties while simultaneously wowing us with his knowledge and expertise as an entrepreneur, business owner, and marketing and branding expert.

The interview honestly felt like chatting with an old friend. Dave is fun, relaxed, passionate and an incredibly insightful person. In an hour’s time, we covered everything from how Oxford Pennant got started, what the company’s structure looks like today, to where he sees it going in the future (they’re committed to Buffalo)! He shared how they have successfully built and expanded their brand through Instagram, some things he’s learned in his travels that Buffalo could benefit from, and his best advice for those with aspirations to start their own business.

We had a blast talking with him and we hope our listeners enjoyed it just as much! Learn more about AAF, membership perks and upcoming events at or follow us on social @AAFBuffalo.

AdWeek Events Industry Updates


Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been the subject of many conversations over the past few months. We recently had the opportunity to speak with leaders from the Buffalo community and dig deeper into DEI: what it means, how it can be incorporated into the workplace, what the biases and barriers are, and how we can take action.

It is important to remember that with DEI, you cannot have one without the other two. Diversity, equity, and inclusion should be present and maintained in all aspects of life in order to progress forward, so stopping to assess how DEI fits in and plays (or could play) an active role in your workplace is imperative.

What are diversity, equity, and inclusion? 

Ekua Mends-Aidoo, chief equity and inclusion officer at Evergreen Health, recommends keeping organizations top of mind when defining these words.

As Ekua explained:

  • Diversity is a fact – either you have it within an organization or you do not.
  • Inclusion is a choice. It is up to the organization to decide and choose how they want to include people and make them feel embraced.
  • Equity is a policy that should become part of the organization’s practice. Equity is not It is about ensuring that people are getting the necessary and optimal resources that they need to achieve and succeed.

Incorporating DEI in the workplace.

Learning what these words mean is the first step, but organizations should be thinking about incorporating DEI in the workplace from the onset of the hiring process to onboarding and throughout career development. To maintain this mind-set and have DEI become a foundational part of your company, education is key. Whether it is a training series, a review of your company’s policies and structure, or a collaboration with groups and organizations to gain a better understanding of diversity issues, education introduces new conversations and poses questions for the future. These exercises may uncover certain biases that were never noticed before. But as was said by David Johnson, director of college counseling at Buffalo Prep, it is important that we are comfortable with being uncomfortable during the process in order to do the work that is necessary.

Taking action.

It is easy to stick with the status quo. Change can be difficult for everybody, and this work you are setting out to do can be challenging, but organizations cannot be afraid to have these conversations and seek out diversity. We need to be innovative and intentional with what we desire to do and how we are going to make that happen.

A special thank-you to our panel for taking the time to speak with us and for all that you do in our community:

  • Lisa Napier, Founder and President of WNY Media House
  • David Johnson, Director of College Counseling at Buffalo Prep
  • Ekua Mends-Aidoo, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer at Evergreen Health
  • Greg Addo, Director, Producer, Videographer, and Editor at Addo Productions

AdWeek Skillshop


We put some marketers and an attorney in a [virtual] room and kicked off this year’s AdWeek with a Skillshop hosted by Katie Markert, an attorney within Barclay Damon LLP’s Branding, Trademarks, and Copyrights practice group. 

Katie laid down the law to help us understand what goes into developing a strong brand name, and it turns out, not all trademarks are created equal—they actually reside on a spectrum. She walked us through this spectrum and showed us, from worst to best, how trademarks can be created with strong legal backing. From generic trademarks to the fanciful, Katie described the varying levels of trademark strength and gave some real-world examples. 

Another big takeaway…beware of genericide! Did you own a “return top” as a kid? How about a “yoyo”? Well Katie asked us if we could think of the generic term for yoyo, and we were stumped. Turns out, YO-YO was actually a brand name trademarked by Duncan Co. in 1932 for “return top” toys. This product eventually fell victim to genericide due to a faulty trademark registration, and all of these toys could legally be referred to as yo-yos, and they were. The name continued to spread as the generic term, and thus, you probably owned a yo-yo as a kid–not a “return top”.

Katie concluded her SkillShop with a Q&A that answered our deepest branding and trademark questions. Thank you Katie! Learn more about Katie’s legal experience here.

Announcements Board


We’re excited to officially kick off the 2020-2021 club year, announcing the newest additions to our board of directors, including two new executive board members!

As a non-profit organization, the American Advertising Federation of Buffalo (AAF Buffalo) is managed entirely by a board of volunteers. We are so thankful for the time and dedication every board member devotes to the club each year. Check out our new roster below!

First, we’d like to announce changes to our executive board. McKenna Murray, going on her second year, has been named Vice President of Communications and Jeff Quinn, also going on his second year, has been named Vice President of Programming. Joining these two are returning e-board members President Josh Gumulak and Treasurer Alex Keogan.

New board members elected to serve a three-year term are:

  • Kaitlyn Affuso, Marketing Coordinator, Chiampou Travis Besaw & Kershner LLP
  • Mary Amenta, Senior Account Executive, Mower Agency
  • Cody Andres, Graphic Designer, The Martin Group
  • Adina Pera, Senior Project Manager, Crowley Webb
  • Shannon Polvino, PR and Account Manager, Insight Strategies
  • Sky Stage, Director of Marketing, Sinatra and Company/Villa Maria College
  • Sarah Warner, Founder, Set Strategies LLC

Returning board members include:

  • Colleen Colkitt, Account Executive, Quinlan
  • Josh Gumulak, Senior Account Executive, FARM
  • Katie Hazel, Associate Creative Director, Crowley Webb
  • Caroline Jette, Graphic Designer, Delaware North
  • Alex Keogan, Account Executive, Hadley Exhibits
  • Jordan Lema, President/CEO, Lemur Studios
  • Sam Lonczak, Graphic Designer, FIFTEEN
  • McKenna Murray, Project Manager, Barclay Damon LLP
  • Maura Noonan, Digital Media and Content Manager, FARM
  • Jeff Quinn, Account Executive, Luminus

Laurie McMurray from SUNY Buffalo State will also serve as our student liaison. For additional information about AAF Buffalo, upcoming programming, thought leadership, networking opportunities, and more please visit:

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!

Industry Updates Stuff

COVID-19 Return to Work – Agency Roundtable

In early May, AAF Buffalo facilitated a Zoom conference among several small and large WNY advertising agencies to discuss returning to work following the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this discussion was to promote idea sharing across WNY’s advertising leaders so that we all can implement the most effective return to work policies possible in a post-COVID-19 world.

The document represents ideas where consensus was reached that agencies should consider implementing, if resources allow.

Click here to download

Events Students


Many thanks to the pro volunteers and students who participated in AAF Buffalo’s first attempt at an online Portfolio Review Day for area creative students. As the leading advertising professional organization in WNY, it is part of our mission to support future creatives, especially during an uncertain time. We put our heads together after COVID-19 forced us to cancel the physical Portfolio Review. After some planning, the day ended up being a success thanks to pro volunteers and Zoom Breakout Rooms. Students who registered in advance participated in several twenty minute interviews, where they had the opportunity to chat, ask questions, and share their work. Many colleges and universities were represented including Rochester Institute of Technology, University at Buffalo, St. Bonaventure, Villa Maria College, Daemen College, and Buffalo State College.

In order to offer opportunity to win an award to a wider range of students during such an uncertain time, we decided to give each Breakout Room one vote towards a standout student portfolio of their choice to receive a cash prize. Several students were awarded more than one vote. Congratulations to students who won kudos from the professional volunteers:

Crista Sukennik, Communication Design, Buffalo State College
Junyan Chen, Studio Art with Graphic Design Concentration, University at Buffalo
Lindsay Neilson, Graphic Design, Villa Maria College
Deztinhy Di Meo, Graphic Design, RIT
Maggie Blaisdell, Graphic Design, RIT

We look forward to hosting this important event for years to come, and will continue to grow and evolve it in an effort to best serve future creative professionals with an effort to make it fun and beneficial for pros as well. We truly appreciate the time, professionalism, and dedication of the pros and students who were involved with this event. See ya in 2021!



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.


Announcements Blog Board Latest News Stuff

Club. Of. The. Year.

By Dan Nesselbush
Board members Tim Bouchard, Jaime Applegate, Dan Nesselbush, and Scott Bartels show off AAF Buffalo’s eight AAF Club Achievement Awards.

Yes, you read that right. Of the 200 American Advertising Federation chapters across the United States, your friendly neighborhood ad club known as AAF Buffalo left New Orleans with the title of 2016-17 Club of the Year! The honor also earned recognition for Scott Bartels as 2016-17 President of the Year during ADMERICA, the AAF’s annual national conference.

The accolades, earned through AAF’s Club Achievement Competition, resulted in an extra checked bag fee thanks to a stack of awards presented during the four day conference. We collected eight plaques in the competition which recognizes local advertising clubs for their initiatives in a variety of categories established to honor the significant contributions of the AAF network of professional advertising clubs and to encourage excellence in areas of club operations that contribute to the strength of the AAF’s member clubs.

AAF Buffalo is part of Division II (250-499 members) for the club achievement awards competition and became club of the year based on points earned for first and second place finishes in the following categories:

1st Place AAF Club Achievement Awards

  • Club Operations
  • Membership Development
  • Diversity & Multicultural Initiatives
  • Government Relations

2nd Place AAF Club Achievement Awards

  • Advertising Education
  • Communications
  • Programs
  • Public Service

Being honored as AAF Club of the Year was sweeter than a Sunday morning beignet at Café Du Monde, but the NOLA edition of ADMERICA offered so much more for our organization. It provided great opportunities for our executive board to hear from industry leaders and champions of diversity initiatives, meet with our fellow AAF chapters, attend a slew of workshops, and draw inspiration from the best of the best at the American Advertising Awards.

A huge thank you goes out to each and every member of our board of directors: Scott Bartels (HSBC Bank USA), Tim Bouchard (LUMINUS), Kyle Rogers (BlueCross BlueShield of WNY), Jaime Applegate (NOCO), Andrew Bevevino (Martin Davison Public Relations), April Brown (FARM), Teresa Carosa (Independent Health), Erin Collins (BlueCross BlueShield of WNY), Brita D’Agostino (Daemen College), Erin Haskell (Great Lakes Orthodontics), Brittany Klotzbach (Gelia), Jillian Minderler (Quinlan), Marcia Rich (Crowley Webb), Shannon Silva (dPost), Grace Gruarin (Telesco Creative Group), Alexa Godwin (Crowley Webb), club admin Tina Pastwik, and our student liaison Angela Marini. They balance their work and family obligations, yet still find a way to volunteer their time and energy throughout the year to make club initiatives happen.

It would be very remiss of us to not thank our members, corporate members, sponsors, and the employers of our board members for tremendous support throughout the year. Your participation allows our organization to thrive and create opportunities for all involved in the marketing communications field in Western New York and that backing is greatly appreciated.

All of those awards are the result of a very busy year, so we’re going to give everyone (except our board members) the month of July off. We’ll see you back at The Big Tip-Off on August 24 at Soho Burger Bar as we raise funds for our academic scholarship programs.