​An Australian Creative Director and Strategist fumbles through life in America. Live from New York.

An Australian Creative Director and Strategist fumbles through life New York City.

My Buddy: Patti Smith Remembers Sam Shepard.

Over the weekend, actor and playwright Sam Shepard passed away, and Patti Smith penned this tribute to him in The New Yorker. It's all worth a read, but this quote stood out:

Sam liked being on the move. He’d throw a fishing rod or an old acoustic guitar in the back seat of his truck, maybe take a dog, but for sure a notebook, and a pen, and a pile of books. He liked packing up and leaving just like that, going west. He liked getting a role that would take him somewhere he really didn’t want to be, but where he would wind up taking in its strangeness; lonely fodder for future work.

Ostrich by Samsung.

Here is one of the best ads I've ever seen. Perfect use of music, great storytelling, paid off perfectly by the copy and the hashtag. Incredible work from Leo Burnett's Chicago. I've seen this five times, and each time gives me goosebumps.

Remembering Carrie Fisher.

I'm not the biggest Star Wars fan, but I do remember excitedly watching the first trilogy with my Dad as a little kid. And I reckon Carrie Fisher might have been my first celebrity crush (again, not a unique position, I'm sure). This is a masterclass in editing to music, as well as for emotion.

Vale, John.

Very sad news over the weekend with the unexpected passing of John Clarke, one of the Australia's wittiest and most verbose comic minds. From a young age, I can vividly remember my parents howling with laughter at the end of The 7:30 Report as John and Brian Dawe skewered whatever was happening in politics that week. As a younger fella, I can remember staring in giggly awe at the incredibly funny and just smart humour of The Games; how could something so clever be so funny (to the 15 year old giggling at Adam Sandler, this is quite a realisation). His deadpan reaction to the buffoonery of bureaucracy happening around him was exquisite, made only better when he'd ever so slightly lose his cool, raising his voice like a dad pushed to his limits, but quickly coming back under control.

In a world darkened by conflict and corruption, we've never needed his voice more. It's a damn shame to lose him now. Here's some gold to remember him by.

The Absolute Worst Ad I've Ever Seen.

In our divided world, brands try to take sides on a wide range of issues to make themselves seem relevant, and to call themselves 'cause-based' (which is this years jargon de jour). Sometimes, it's quite well done. Then something like this comes along and makes me want to just leave it all alone, and go live in the fucking mountains. Anyone that had anything to do with this should quit their position or their agency, give every dollar they have to a decent cause, and go and atone for their sins by quietly staring at a grey wall for the rest of their lives. Because it's appalling, awful, and on every level exactly what people say they HATE when they say they hate advertising.

I'm too angry to get into the levels of wrong, but Chris Lubin (a strategist working for Anomaly) does a pretty good job. Read his thoughts here.

Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace.

Broadly speaking, people give millennials too much shit. They get clumped together by marketers into a giant, grey blob: an immense, faceless and feckless mob with high spending power, and zero nuance. Then, whenever the discussion turns to 'millennials in the workplace', the shit gets heaped on thicker and faster: too lazy, too entitled, too privileged. 

This interview with Simon Sinek speaks to why this belief exists, and the truth (and bullshit) that lies beneath it.

Few takeaways from me.

  1. Despite at times coming off smug or condescending, Sinek is a brilliant and passionate speaker.
  2. I'm glad I am on the cusp of being a millennial (by Sinek's grouping, being born in 1984 puts me into the millennial camp, but at the very beginning). A lot of what he talks about isn't 100% relevant to me, or even people my sisters age (1987), specifically the parts about growing up with social media and mobile devices. I didn't have a phone until i was 16, and apart from ICQ, social didn't really become a thing until late high school/university.
  3. Toward the end of the film, he talks about the problems with short term thinking. I actually think this attitude is poisoning not just this generation, but everyone alive today, across almost every sphere: politics, environmental protection, social media, film making, advertising...the list goes on.

Hat tip to InBloome for the referral!

Ending the Year with a Whimper (that's Kind of a Bang).

2016 has been a pretty fucked year in general (even though personally, I had a great year, getting engaged and changing jobs). However, overall, the world's probably not in a better place than it was 12 months ago: Trump, Brexit, the loss of Prince...not great.

Which brings me to this, probably the last post of 2016...and it's a doozie. IMAX somehow managed to upload a copy of the new 'The Mummy' trailer...without 90% of the sound effects. It's surreal, it's bizarre, and at times, hilarious (the plane crash in particular). But it may sum up the year: rushed, not thought through, and largely terrible.


Thinking About Storytelling.

I've just started reading Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, and am actually looking forward to my impending flight to Australia so I can truly rip into it. But despite being at the beginning, I can see one trend emerging already: the need for decency and humanity when managing creative teams, and when cultivating genuinely interesting storytelling. Seems super obvious, but in my industry, it seems to be forgotten almost constantly.

Thinking about this, I stumbled across this wonderful film (beautifully edited film by Kees van Dijkhuizen Jr.) featuring Brad Bird, one of the genius film makers at Pixar. There is a lot of great insight into the need for simplicity and pacing in storytelling: the need to let the moment sit instead of rushing onto the next scene, the power of darkness in a world flooded by light, and the difference between genre and artform.

The New Normal.

The record falls again.

We're had twenty children shot at their school, nine people shot in church over the colour of their skin, fourteen people killed at an office party in San Bernardino and now 49 LGBT victims lie dead on the floor of a club in Orlando.

And the record has changed again: 49. It's 49 now.

This is the new normal.

The new level against which we'll set our attention spans. 40 killed by a madman? 36 children dead? At least it wasn't as bad as Orlando. 

49 people died at two o'clock in the morning on a Friday. 49 people who went to dance, drink, meet people and hang with friends. 49 people died, terrified and hiding from horror in the bathrooms, the coatroom, behind the bar, breathing heavily, trying to be silent, to hold back sobs and screams. 49 people who texted their loved ones, and begged for help, begged for anyone to save them.

And the inevitable will now happen. The news cycle will spin us all into a tizzy.

The shooter was a Muslim. That'll matter.

The shooter pledged allegiance to Isis. That makes it an act of terrorism.

The victims were in a gay bar, listening to a drag queen perform. That makes it a hate crime.

It doesn't matter. It never matters.

The worst bit is the radio. The people who say 'If only the victims had been armed.' The people who say that gun control 'only takes guns from the good guys.' As if it's a narrative. A story. A fiction where there are bad guys and good guys.

Because arming people who are drinking and bumping into each other in a noisy, dark, crowded bar is always the way to lower gun violence.

A man who hated those different to him bought a military designed assault rifle, and mowed down those he hated. Simple.

We're in LA. It's gay pride weekend. And they just arrested a man with grenades, and two assault rifles, heading to the parade. Was he motivated by this attack? Or did we only catch him because we suddenly needed more protection at gay pride events?

It doesn't matter.

This is the new normal. Once again.