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Local Ad Organization Apologizes After Insensitive Messaging

Erica Peterson

The promotion for the Louisville chapter of the American Advertising Federation shows a golden female figure with a coy look. Above the figure reads “Come support Louie as he undergoes his transition.”

This is how the group, also known locally as the AdFed, decided to encourage organizations to submit their work for their annual awards, which used to be called Louie and are now called the ADDY Awards. Under the figure reads: “for those who self-identify as creative,” and uses other language and references to the transgender community.

Over the past day, the campaign has generated outrage in the local advertising community.

“It was just insulting,” Jason Clark said. He's the owner and creative director at VIA Studio, and shared the AdFed's promotion on social media.

Clark said he has participated in the awards since 1996 and was a former board member at the AdFed, but took issue with the way the ad was worded.

“It made me feel queasy and really questioned how it went through the board to a place where it got printed," he said.

Clark said episodes like this are damaging to marginalized groups in the community.

“It’s really shocking that something that was that insensitive that is supposed to represent the ad industry here in Louisville made it all the way through to this,” he said.

The AdFed did not respond to a request for comment, but has since commented on Clark’s Facebook page.

"The American Advertising Federation of Louisville is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion among club members, its activities, events and the community," the statement reads. "On this promotion for the ADDY awards, we were unthoughtful with our representation of the transgender community. We deeply regret the offense that it has caused. We were not seeking to offend and we apologize for our poor judgement. The American Advertising Federation of Louisville believes in full inclusion and equality for all humans. This was a singular promotional item. It will not be seen again in any format."

Roxanne Scott covers education for WFPL News.

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