American Advertising Federation at Illinois

Q&A with Annee Mattson, Advertising Student
Chief Community Engagement Officer for American Advertising Federation at Illinois

What does your RSO do? 
At the most basic level, AAF is an agency for anyone interested in the advertising industry. As a whole, AAF allows students to see what they want to do, what they are good at, and if they are interested in continuing to work in the industry in the future. There are 10-11 agencies currently in AAF—agencies for copywriting, video editing, creative experience, and more. We have hit 300 members this year and are planning on reaching 500 members by the end of next semester.  

What is your RSO currently working on or has recently wrapped up? 
We work with real companies, doing display advertising, strategy, and video editing for them. AAF also does a lot of nonprofits—specifically the organization Pangea in AAF has worked with mental health organizations on campus. Across the board, we work with both bigger clients and local businesses, doing branding and also running social media campaigns. With 11 agencies, there is a lot of work for us to do around campus: other RSOs, the Illini Union bookstore, etc. 

What drew you to join your RSO? 
I knew I wanted to do advertising so I was looking for somewhere I could get experience. I didn’t know how to use Adobe, so I was looking for a place that would teach me how to use Illustrator and Photoshop. AAF has an amazing program for teaching anybody to learn Adobe. I also wanted a place to exercise advertising for real-world clients. The authority behind the AAF name also drew me in. We are the biggest chapter in America so I knew it was something I had to be a part of to get experience, learn new things, and understand the industry more.  

What new skills have you learned from this RSO? 
Other than learning how to use programs like Adobe, a huge thing I had to learn was how to work with a team. I have worked with others in creating brand identities, and more than anything, the knowledge about the industry that I have collected has been one of the most helpful things for me. I think sometimes as it is unclear how the advertising industry works, but AAF has helped me piece together what being in the industry looks like and what skills I should pursue. Soft skills like leadership and communicating with clients are examples, but also practical skills like how to write a creative or strategic brief and bringing creative ideas to completion are things that AAF helps you develop. 

How can someone get involved with your RSO? 
Definitely go to info night at the beginning of each semester. If you would like to join now, feel free to go to our website: Or, if you reach out to anyone on our executive board, we would be more than happy to give you information and add you to a group chat.  

—Interview by Daniela Mejia, New Voices intern

AAF at Illinois