MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Acclaimed Memphis-area advertising agency executive and CCI Emeritus Board of Visitors member Jerry Ehrlich (AD ’73) received the 2020 Silver Medal Award, American Advertising Federation (AAF) Memphis announced.
The Silver Medal honors his creative excellence, social responsibility and contributions to the industry and the community across a distinguished three-plus-decade career.
Ehrlich leads The Brand Squad, an award-winning, full-service agency with a flexible, virtual workforce, which he founded in 2008. Previously, he served as CEO and partner in two other Memphis agencies. A graduate of Christian Brothers High School (CBHS) and UT Knoxville, his first job after college was with Memphis ad man John Malmo.
“I’m grateful for my mentors in life and in business. I’ve tried to emulate them, help others and foster life-long learners,” said Ehrlich. “Advancing technologies, emerging platforms, the aging and changing demographics of America mean consumer preferences are evolving constantly. You’ve got to keep learning to stay relevant.”
AAF Memphis has presented the award annually since 1960. Previous winners include: Malmo; Deloss Walker, Ward Archer, Jr., Michael Thompson, Sherri Sawyer; Ken Sossaman; Donna Gordy; Art Gilliam; Stinson Liles and Howard & Beverly Robertson.
The 2020 Silver Medal Award was presented during a luncheon ceremony on January 23 at FedEx Forum.
Over the years, Ehrlich has led creative teams whose work:
- Won an Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for a public service campaign for the Governor’s Highway Safety Office;
- Won acclaim for using technology to pair Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley in a convertible for an award-winning spot for Tennessee Tourism;
- Won raves and drove results for companies with iconic brands such as AutoZone, BASF, Embassy Suites, International Paper, Hunter Fan, Johnston & Murphy, Kemmons Wilson Companies, Lane Home Furnishings, Memphis Grizzlies, Motorola, Opryland, Philips Consumer Electronics and Whirlpool;
- Won dozens of national Telly Awards for Superior Television Creativity since starting the Brand Squad.
Beyond his profession, Ehrlich has modeled a give-back, pay-forward philosophy.
He is an emeritus Board of Visitors member of the UT College of Communication and Information and serves on the boards of the River States Council of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the AAF Memphis as well as president of the Mid-South Advertising Agency Association.
He has served on the executive boards of the Chickasaw Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Lausanne Collegiate School and Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit that helps students learn about hatred and bigotry so they can stop it.
Ehrlich’s mother, Dicky Weile Ehrlich, was a neighbor of Anne Frank, the German-born Jewish teenager, whose diary documented her life in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in the early 1940s. She survived nine death camps in Eastern Europe during the war years before coming to America. For nearly two decades, Ehrlich has shared her story in classrooms and with community groups to underscore the importance of learning from history.
In 2015, Jewish Community Partners asked for help with an oral history from aging survivors for a local Holocaust Remembrance Day presentation. He responded by producing an award-winning 39-minute documentary, Lives Restated, which shares the stories of European Jews who persevered, immigrated to Memphis and rebuilt their lives. Lives Restarted is available on Amazon Prime. The film, executed with protégé Waheed AlQawasmi, a gifted Memphis-based director, is an example of how Ehrlich applies his talents to bring out the best in others.
Ehrlich established The Brand Squad nearly 11 years ago. In the wake of the Great Recession, he anticipated clients would want more efficiency and better returns on marketing investments. And he expected seasoned, best-in-class researchers, writers, art directors, media buyers and strategists would be open to coming together and working virtually on their schedules. The model benefits clients by matching them with a talented custom squad that best fits their industry, objectives, audiences and budget.
In addition, most Sundays Ehrlich plays guitar in the worship band at Collierville United Methodist Church.