Thursday evening October 28 at Latitude 35, the American Advertising Federation’s local chapter recognized the best and brightest behind-the-scenes ad peeps in style – and in Halloween drag. Ad Fed hosted Knoxville’s first annual Big Wig Awards with a groovy gathering downstairs at the Market Square hot spot. WBIR’s Erin Donovan emceed the event, bringing the sass and sporting fuscia day-glo locks.
AAF-Knoxville, aka Ad Fed, solicited nominations from across the communications community for a myriad of categories. More than 100 individuals were nominated, and over 1,700 votes were cast.
The winners below, some in costume, some not, celebrated their Big Wig status:
Best Online Rep: Sarah Burton- WATE (Winner)
Best Printer Rep: Brent Golden- Hart Graphics (Winner)
Best Outdoor Rep: Carolyn Morton- Lamar (Winner)
Best Newspaper Rep: Marti Townsend- Knoxville News Sentinel (Winner)
Best Radio Rep: Cory Dickson- Citadel Broadcasting (Winner)
Best TV Rep: Kristy Henderson- WBIR (Winner)
Best Exhibit Production: Hart Graphics (Winner)
Best Large Format Printer: Print Edge (Winner)
Best Printer: Hart Graphics (Winner)
Best Sign Company: Fast Signs (Winner)
Best Fulfillment /Direct Mail Category: Direct Mail Services (Winner)
Best Talent Agency: Talent Trek (Winner)
Best Photographer: Charlie Brooks (Winner)
Best Video Film Post Production: KARMA (Winner)
Best Sound Person: Sam Moore- WBIR (Winner)
Best Media Buyer: Cynthia Wells- Tombras (Winner)
Best Traffic/Production: Valerie Lamb- Tombras (Winner)
Best Retouch Artist: Kiera Tippitt, 5 Monkeys Design (Winner)
Best Illustrator: Andrea Truan (Winner-tie), Danny Wilson (Winner-tie)
Best Web Programmer: Paul Gibson-VIEO (Winner)
Best Assistant: Hollie Bivens- Hart Graphics (Winner)
Best Up & Comer: Drew Dill- Shelton Group (Winner)
Most Like to be My Boss in 10 Years: Dooley Tombras-Tombras (Winner)
Ad people, in general, are fun. When you get to be creative for a living, every day is a party. AAF-Knoxville President, Brian Potter, pointed out in his introduction of Erin Donovan, that her pets are named after “Sanford and Sons” characters. And Dooley Tombras, wearing street clothes and a jeans jacket, quipped that he was dressed as his dad, Charlie Tombras, CEO of The Tombras Group. Fitting, since Dooley won the award, “Most Likely To Be My Boss In Ten Years.”
The point of the Big Wig Awards is to lift up the talented folks who make the magic happen outside the limelight. It literally takes a village to concept, produce and execute advertising campaigns. Printers, photographers, graphic designers, programmers, media buyers and sellers are all part of the creative process.
Knoxville may seem like an unlikely hub of frenetic creativity, but there’s actually a thriving, eclectic community of advertising professionals here. Some are left over from the glory days of Whittle Communications. Some are too young to remember Chris Whittle and his empire. Regardless, Knoxville offers a just-right mix of bohemia and suburbia, bistros and boutiques, mountains and trails, to attract and retain talented people. Whether you’re from New York or LA or that other LA, Lower Alabama, our city holds a certain, intangible appeal.
“The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person,” said Frank Barron, writer, scholar and psychologist. Knoxvillians love artists and eccentrics, both home-grown and imported. We claim Cormac McCarthy and David Keith as native sons. We mourn Patricia Neal’s passing as we celebrate Dale Dickey’s most recent film. There’s a larger than life bronze statue of Alex Haley, author of Roots, in Morningside Park, even though he only lived in Knoxville for a few years.
Knoxville welcomes you with open arms and enfolds you in bear hugs, no matter where you’re from. Come as you are. Wigs optional.