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Southeast’s ‘Talking Booth’ Video Wins National AAF Award

University Communications and Marketing at Southeast Missouri State University has been awarded National Silver and Mosaic ADDY Awards presented by the American Advertising Federation (AAF) for “The Talking Booth” video.

Tonya Wells, assistant director of marketing and digital media, accepted the award Saturday at the American Advertising Awards ceremony in New Orleans, Louisiana, the closing event of ADAMERICA 2017, the AAF’s annual national conference.

“The Talking Booth” video, which was produced as part of Southeast’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 2016 Dinner Celebration, competed at the national level with nearly 39,000 entries nationwide. It was one of three entries recognized with a special award named for the American Advertising Federation’s Mosaic Center, exemplifying a spirit of diversity and inclusion. 

The video advanced to the national competition after it was awarded a District Gold ADDY and a Judges’ Citation by the AAF in March. In February, at the local AAF Awards, the video competed in the public service non-broadcast audio/visual category and earned “Best of Show.” The department also received seven gold and five silver ADDY Awards at the local competition.

The video shows clips of more than 40 hours of conversations taped at Southeast in fall 2015 that resulted when talking booths were placed on campus inviting passersby to ask questions of members of various ethnic and cultural groups. What resulted was honest conversation about race, religion, identity, diversity, stereotypes and the uniqueness of everyone’s personal experience. Over the course of a two-week period, talking booths invited students to stop and “Ask a Muslim,” “Ask an African American,” “Ask a Caucasian,” “Ask an LGBTQ,” “Ask an International Student” and “Ask a Christian.”

“It is an amazing honor for our staff to be recognized at the highest level in the industry, and for our advertising peers to distinguish the marketing and technical talents and quality of this video,” said Jeff Harmon, executive director of University Communication and Marketing.

Harmon credited Wells and Aaron Eisenhauer, former digital image specialist in University Communications and Marketing at Southeast, for the video’s ingenuity and high-quality production that resulted in more than 100,000 views, 260,000 reached, and over 1,700 social media shares one week after its release.

“We are overjoyed this project was selected to receive a National American Advertising Award,” Wells said. “This video will always be special to us both for the content discussed and the incredible courage of the students and faculty who participated and were willing to engage in honest and sometimes difficult conversations about race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. Their maturity and thoughtfulness combined with Aaron’s masterful work and artistry to tell their story is why this video has captivated audiences. We are so proud of AAF’s recognition.”

“The Talking Booth” video advanced from the district competition among 450 entries. The Judges’ Citation was issued based on the video being one of the competition’s most memorable pieces.

The local competition, where the video first competed in February, featured 129 print, digital and multi-media advertising projects, all created, published or aired in the Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Paducah, Kentucky, and Harrisburg, Illinois, markets between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016.

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