The Continued Importance of Local Chapters

By Kevin Swanepoel, CEO The One Club For Creativity on Jan 12, 2018

The Art Directors Club of Denver was a trailblazer 62 years ago, when a forward-thinking group of six local designers organized themselves around the mission of the leading creative organization of its time, viewing it as a way to elevate their local industry by uplifting the craft and work of Denver creatives.  There was spirited debate on the details of how things would work, but the operating principle was clear: organize locally to support the community while leveraging the resources and vision of a larger national organization.

Fast-forward to today, and while the creative industry and world have changed dramatically since then, that same formula remains not only an unbeatable combination, but a win-win for both the local and global organizations.  

In his chapter newsletter article from December 1964, ADCD president Kenneth C. Wilmot addressed the challenges and opportunities of being part of a larger national organization.  Understandably, there was concern from some that their community might be subsumed and homogenized, losing aspects of its local personality and flavor.    

But history shows us that the most successful local chapters are those that maintain their heritage and unique community-focused ethos, addressing local issues and celebrating the thinking and craft of local members while taking advantage of the resources of the larger national or global organization.

In just the few months since formation of The One Club for Creativity Denver, we’ve already seen an example of that win-win with September’s One Club for Creativity Denver Annual Awards Show.  While the entire focus of the show remains as it should on identifying and celebrating the best in Rocky Mountains region creative work, our team in New York contributed behind the scenes in ways that elevated the process.  

As a TOCC chapter, Denver gained access to The One Show’s global jury database, and we worked closely with Denver chapter officers to assemble a highly diverse group of all-star creative judges from around the world.  This provided an unprecedented opportunity to boost Denver’s visibility to the industry’s top national and global creatives, and put Denver people and work on a global stage.

In addition, the Denver show was able to use The One Show’s extremely robust awards judging platform, the same proprietary, state-of-the-art voting and scoring technology used for judging the nearly 30,000 entries received each year for the global One Show and ADC Annual Awards competitions.

Among the many benefits of this collaboration for Denver Chapter members is that entries into your own Annual Awards show automatically qualify for reduced-fee for entering the same work in The One Show and ADC Annual Awards.  Winning work in the Denver show also serves as a good barometer to know how the work might fare in a global awards competition.


History repeats: independents and local markets on the rise again

Back in the 1980s-90s, smaller upstart agencies and design firms — many located far from Madison Avenue —  revolutionized the industry with their risk-taking and out-of-the-box creative thinking. They snatched clients from large agencies and built some of our most iconic brands.  Then those large agencies and conglomerates gobbled up a lot of those upstarts, sometimes smothering their creativity and in many cases ultimately absorbing them into other larger agencies.  

But times are cyclical and today, independent agencies and design studios outside of big markets like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are having a resurgent moment.  It’s a revitalization spurred by technology and new ways of how brands communicate with their customers.

Specialization in areas such as social, mobile, video content and app development has enabled many small shops to thrive because they’re more nimble and finely attuned to the latest technology and rapid changes in consumer interests than their large agency competitors.  

Even the biggest brands are increasingly giving independent agencies a part of the marketing spend, working with them on projects and even ongoing campaigns where speed and new thinkings are critical.  This opens a wealth of opportunities for creatives in markets like Denver, be they at an established agency, a start up, as a freelancer or even as part of a brand’s in-house ad or design team.

Our goal at The One Club for Creativity is to provide you with a framework, programming and tools to help you take full advantage of this growing opportunity.  We share the same concerns about critical issues facing the industry as you do, and offer Denver members access to a new, expanded network of industry experts, resources and programming under our four key pillars — Education, Inclusion & Diversity, Professional Development and Gender Equality — to help you deal more successfully with those challenges.

Success of the Denver chapter is personal to me.  Well before there was any talk of being part of the same family, I was lucky enough to have been invited by ADC Denver over the years to come and make annual presentations of One Show winners.  I’ve always recognized your club as active and vital to the community, and in many ways a model for what a local chapter could be.  I’m extremely proud that Denver chose to be the country’s first authorized chapter of The One Club for Creativity, and am committed to help you thrive and grow in the future.


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