Selection Criteria and the Award Ceremony for the Trailblazer Award

The Award
Established in 1997 by the American Advertising Federation-Houston, the Trailblazer Award recognizes business leaders who have built Houston companies through effective advertising, sound marketing, and corporate citizenship. Through their marketing, these “Trailblazers” have enhanced their companies' images and the City of Houston’s reputation.

The Candidates
The AAF-Houston is proud to honor local business leaders who have demonstrated a true spirit of innovation in marketing and advertising at the annual Trailblazer Gala. Many businesses continue to create and enhance a positive image of the City of Houston through exceptional advertising produced by local talent. In recognizing these outstanding Trailblazers, the AAF-Houston seeks men and women who exemplify the “made in Houston” spirit and continue to underscore the strong partnership between the advertising and business communities.

The Event
The Trailblazer Gala honors an individual who personifies the spirit of the Trailblazer and celebrates that person’s energy, ingenuity, imagination, and vision. The Trailblazer honoree is typically presented to the community at a black-tie gala held in late summer/early fall that incorporates audiovisual presentations, auctions, and entertainment. The evening brings together an audience of influential media, business, and advertising professionals.

The AAF-Houston ( is the city's preeminent advertising and marketing communications organization. Founded in 1911, it is one of the oldest professional service clubs in Houston. Promotion of education and excellence in our industry is at the core of the mission of AAF-Houston. The Trailblazer Gala is an AAF-H fund-raising activity that focuses on education. Proceeds from the gala help fund scholarships, internships, and educational activities for aspiring young advertising and marketing professionals in Houston. Annual scholarships are awarded to college students within the AAF-Tenth District (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana).

The Trailblazer Gala offers an opportunity to highlight the exceptional advertising and marketing expertise that is available in Houston. The design work, photography, videography, and cinematography manifested in the award’s event are all evidence of the remarkable talent found right here in Houston. Ultimately, the annual Trailblazer Gala is a reflection of how we regard our hometown and what the world thinks of Houston as a place to live, work and play.

Trailblazer Selection Committee
Chaired by a representative of the AAF-H Presidents Council, the Trailblazer Selection Committee includes the following: all previous Trailblazer recipients (1997 – present); AAF-H chairman; AAF-H president; AAF-H Presidents’ Council chair or representative; current Trailblazer Gala chair; and three at-large AAF-H members appointed by the Gala chair.

The Selection Committee meets one or more times during the first quarter of each year and, by private and individual vote, selects the Trailblazer recipient for the next year by April 10th. Five qualified committee members must be present at the final selection meeting. Notification of the selection should be made in person by one of the previous recipients, AAF-H chairman, AAF-H president, and Gala chairman as soon as possible.

Trailblazer Selection Criteria
A Trailblazer candidate must be a person who embodies these characteristics:
    •    Recognized leader of a Houston organization
    •    Successfully uses marketing to promote his or her business or enterprise
    •    Successfully uses marketing to enhance the image of the City of Houston
    •    Demonstrates a positive involvement in community or charitable activities
    •    Promotes and uses the talents of Houston’s advertising and marketing community