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They have a saying in Austin, Texas – Keep Austin Weird. Well, Austin, we did our best, thank you very much.

At this year’s American Advertising Federation National Addy Awards, MWB took home three Gold Addys and one Silver Addy for our Shack Up Inn poster campaign. Now, at face value, that might not strike you as weirdness, but allow me to describe the scene: It’s Marc Leffler and me in a fancy ballroom at the Austin Hilton ‚Äì lights, cameras and everything. The audience is filled with the people behind some of advertising’s biggest campaigns ‚Ä쬆and us. One more thing: Marc is holding a cut-out picture of Keith Fraser’s face mounted on a stick. (See the picture above.) Keith Fraser is MWB’s associate creative director and designer of the Shack Up posters.

After a few welcoming announcements, the show begins with video of the Gold Addy winners: Leo Burnett for their brilliant Mayhem campaign for Allstate Insurance. The much-loved Superbowl commercial, “The Force”, with the mini Darth Vader, that Deutsch created for Volkswagen. A multimedia campaign for Nike, featuring the cast of Back to the Future, that raised $9 million for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Wieden+Kennedy’s fantastic “Imported from Detroit” campaign for Chrysler. Sony Playstation. McDonald’s. Snickers. Coca-Cola. HBO. Intel. And then‚Ķ The Shack Up Inn posters from Maris, West & Baker. A low-budget poster campaign among million-dollar multimedia spectacles from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. All for a Clarksdale B&B (breakfast and beer) where you can spend the night in a renovated sharecropper shack.

I heard some applause and a few whistles as we walked up to accept the Addys. Of course, the cheers quickly turned to laughter once Marc held up Keith-on-a-Stick. Here’s the full story: Keith designed the posters. Marc and I were the writers. But, unfortunately, Keith couldn’t come to the Addys due to an important photo shoot for Newk’s. Marc, who has probably the biggest heart in Mississippi advertising, didn’t want Keith to be left out. So he brought a picture of Keith’s face on a stick. And Keith, as usual, stole the show even though he wasn’t actually there. We might have to start bringing Keith-on-a-Stick to client meetings. Watch out ‚ÄúReal Keith.‚Äù

All in all, it was an incredible experience to see our work honored among some of the best advertising campaigns on the planet. But don’t worry about us getting big egos. It was back to the real world on Thursday to roll up the sleeves and get to work. In advertising, you’re only as good as your last campaign. What really matters most is doing the best you can for the clients you’re lucky enough to have.

The AAF posted a page with the National Addy Gold winners. Here’s to the winners, the South and the Shack Up Inn!