May 19, 2020

The 99-foot Tall
Elephant in the Room


Greetings, Adworkers! Don’t worry, we’re still here.

Actually, the team and I have been using the past few months to dig into the 99-foot tall elephant in the room. Here’s the brief:

The Milwaukee 99: Background

For the past 18 years, the United Adworkers have come together to celebrate the best work in the greater Milwaukee area.

That doesn’t have to change. But just as we rise to the unique challenges of exceptional advertising, adapting to the circumstances of our time is both a reality and a must for the livelihoods of our members and partners.

The Why

While the show is down the road in October, The 99 has a backend of six/seven months to plan and a financial commitment of over $70,000. That’s judging, logistics, production, printing, awards, venue, food, and so on.

Could we move forward, judge online, and hope for the best come October? Sure, but with layoffs, pay cuts, spending freezes, and no definitive schedule to reverse these setbacks, we believe it would be tone deaf to ask our members to throw any amount of money on the table for an event that might not even take place.

Instead, after careful consideration and feedback from community leadership, we’re going to transform your paid membership dollars into an inclusive showcase of work from the past year.

Interactive Online Showcase:
The Details

This Showcase to be Named Later (but actually) will be a website featuring up to three pieces of produced work that ran from 2019 to 2020. The site will be crafted by the brightest stars in our community and submissions will be FREE to members of the club.

More than a directory, the Showcase to be Named Later will include an interactive set of filters, allowing folks to browse work relative to, but not limited to:

  • Agency Size
  • Budget
  • Execution/Channel
  • Onsite Views

It’s an annual you can click. And participating agencies, freelancers, and others will also have the opportunity to submit a companion video that can summarize the work, deliver a message to our community, and/or serve as your oyster to entertain the masses. Your call.

Student Competition

Hey Students, we didn’t forget about you. You’ve always been a big part of the show, and our board of directors intends to judge your submissions as usual, with one change in particular:

The winner of this year’s student competition will receive a $2000 scholarship, per last year’s promise to put our club dollars to good use.

Logistics / Launch

We’re working to put these systems in place, though aiming for a submission window that begins sometime in June/July and a launch that goes live early October, same as the show.

Getting Together Down the Road

Just cause we’re going another direction this year doesn’t mean we can’t put something on the calendar. Right now, the plan is to double down on our 2021 kickoff event to usher in the better year we’re all hoping for.


Altering our biggest tradition isn’t something we’re taking lightly — it’s a bummer, for sure, and a pretty significant challenge — but we know that with your continued support and ingenuity, we can squash that bummer out, creating something new and unique in the process.

Hoping to see a lot of new faces,
Ryan Day
Executive Director, United Adworkers

Questions? Give me a shout at