Hello. How are you? Good? Good. Welcome to the 2019 PADC!
Me? I’m fine, a little dazed that it’s already March and the year feels like it’s basically over. The psychologist Claudia Hammond calls this ‘The Holiday Paradox’ – this sensation of time speeding up as you get older. I prefer to call it ‘The Advertising Paradox’ – the sensation that no matter how busy you are, or how many conferences you attend or podcasts you listen to, your creative output seems to remain relatively constant in a shorter and shorter amount of time. It’s magic.
First, allow me to introduce myself. My name’s Josh Edge, and I’m the Club’s newest President. I’ve been working in the industry for a little over 15 years now, entirely on agency-side, which apparently puts me on the Endangered Species list. I’ve worked on most of Perth’s bigger (and smaller) clients in some capacity or another, won some metal, and both won and lost many creative pitches. I’ve interned for no money, lectured, been hired, fired, promoted, awarded and chastised in equal measure over the years, so I’ve seen plenty of the local industry’s highs and lows (many more highs, though, which has been nice). And I’m obsessed by creativity in all its forms.
And so, here we are. March 2019, a little over halfway through Trump’s presidency, and with no end in sight to the WA Tourism pitch. Coincidence? Who can say? What we CAN say, with great certainty, is that the newly elected PADC committee is very proud to announce that we have a new blog platform – indeed, the very blog that you’re reading this message on. And if the term ‘blog’ is all a bit early-2000s for you, please substitute your hip nomenclature of choice. As long as you use it, we don’t really care what you call it.
Because this year is all about Creativity Against All Odds. It’s no small exaggeration to say that Creativity (the ballsy, ground-shaking, big ‘C’ creative), holds the answers to all of the world’s problems. Even (some would argue, especially) from a small city like Perth. We, on the PADC Committee, do not believe it’s naive or whimsical to say that creativity holds the answers to all of the world’s problems. From local council signage, to selling cheap rubber thongs, to solving climate change and changing people’s lives all over the world, creativity is the most powerful force ever invented by human beings. The ability to take a series of random thoughts and ideas, and create magic by slamming them together in new and profound ways, is an incredible thing to be part of.
It’s why so many people in creative ‘careers’ describe what they do as a ‘calling’ rather than a ‘career’. Because we honestly think, deep down, that we’d always find a way to be doing this crazy stuff, whether it’s advertising, photography, directing, designing, editing, coding, illustrating, composing, recording, acting or presenting. We can’t not do it – we do it Against All Odds (see how I brought it back there?). And this isn’t just limited to pure, blue-sky creative thinking… if such a thing even exists anymore.
But why Perth? Because Perth is small. Perth, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty insignificant. So nobody’s watching. Nobody’s telling us what we can and can’t do, except ourselves. And, most importantly, there’s tiny, seemingly-insignificant little markets like Perth all over the world. All making small tweaks to the status quo. All using commercial creativity to make giant leaps in small markets. Because they recognise that creativity in business is the engine that drives everything forward. It’s a huge privilege, as a commercial creative professional, to be able to sit in the creative driver’s seat (or at least in the sidecar!) for many of the businesses both here in WA and around the world.
None of this is to say that it’s easy, of course. Many agencies have folded or sold in recent years. Production houses are amalgamating, streamlining and consolidating. At least some local clients are shrinking budgets, or splitting budgets. Perth, as ever, is one of the world’s ‘canaries in the coal mines’ as far as creativity industries go – when seismic changes occur in the world of commercial creativity, Perth feels them early and feels them harder than many other cities.
Our industry is also hardly immune from the problems stemming from a lack of diversity and representation across genders, sexualities and ethnicities. We continue to be an incredibly white, upper-middle-class and heavily penis-skewed industry. And I say this as one of the primary offenders.
So yes, there’s work to be done on all fronts. Creatives and creative businesses need help, support, advice and inspiration wherever possible. The PADC, in collaboration with the Communications Council of WA and other industry bodies, is doing its best to be part of the solution. Thankfully, we get to help each other solve these problems in a tight knit community of amazing, creative individuals. And we get to do it for a living, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. How awesome is that?
Commercial creativity won’t cure cancer, but it might just help the people who are trying to cure cancer. We are the facilitators of positive change in a troubled world. We get to make up the fucking rules up as we go. See that? I just swore. Because there’s no rules, until we make ’em. If you’re working on a funeral home client, whether in advertising, photography, film, tech or design, you get to influence how people perceive the end of their loved ones’ lives. You get to take the cigarette out of the hands of a young parent, save a teenage boy from killing someone in a car accident, and help a 35-year-old woman save enough for her retirement. Sometimes all in one day. From the suppliers, to the agency types, to the freelancers and students and everyone in between, we have the ability to influence people’s lives, just by going to work. So let’s support each other. Let’s hang out together. And let’s find out what we have to offer.
This blog/community/<insert preferred term here> is the start of that process for the Club in 2019. We’re keen to publish opinions from interesting, inspirational, excitable people from all walks of life and creative backgrounds. We want to see the creative work that the Perth community is…erm… creating, both inside and outside of the traditional agency structure. And we want the Club to continue to grow new members in 2019 and beyond. So please spread the word about PADC membership, have a friendly chat (or a well-informed rant) at one of our regular Commune events, and generally be part of the creative community. With a little luck, and a metric butt-tonne of raw talent, we’ll continue to see Perth punch above its weight and succeed (all together now): Against All Odds.
Photo: Mel Branson