AADC Awards 2021 Wrap Up. And let’s burn some bridges.
SOMEWHAT SERIOUS PREAMBLE: When I first started AdTown which turned into MADtown which turned into whatever this lame fucking excuse of a website is these days, I launched it with the philosophy of never making it about my own stupid opinions, and I never ever had a go at anyone or anything. It was irreverent but impartial and that’s what made it work. Agencies and production houses sent me their news cause they trusted that I wouldn’t fuck them over.
Even if I thought their campaign was shit, which I often did, I shared it, found the good in it, celebrated the fact that Adelaide has a diverse industry made up of all sorts of work, including plenty of shit work, but hey, it’s all part of what we do, and we were good to go.
These days, after a few ‘is it or isn’t it still a thing’ goes at bringing MADtown back, the site has definitely become a lot more… ah… well, it’s become much more like me. There’s more swearing. And more calling a spade a fucking shovel. Which might also explain why no one sends me news anymore cause they have no idea what I’ll say about it. I don’t indiscriminately bag things because fuck, have you seen my portfolio lately? It’s hardly Droga-esque. Or whoever the next big up and coming creative is that I’m too out of touch to even know about.
But now it leaves me in a bit of a pickle not quite knowing how the fuck to write about an awards show without kicking a few people to death. Many of whom I quite like. Yesterday when I first drafted my story about the awards, I had to go back and edit it multiple times because I’d been particularly cunty and that’s really not who I am as a person. And calling shit out, or asking tough questions, is tricky to do without also looking like a complete asshat.
So as I sat at the awards last night, looking fucking excellent I might add, I spent pretty much the entire time thinking “holy fucking shit, do or I don’t I?”. I had multiple conversations with multiple people about the integrity of the awards, the integrity of some of the entrants, and even now I have no idea what the right thing to do is.
I’m lucky enough to get an embargoed press release in advance of the event itself so my article can be mostly written advance and then I can usually just add a few highlights and boom, I’m ready to go. And yet, here I am at sparrow’s fart, sitting in my reg grundies at my computer, looking like I’ve been dragged through a bush backwards, sounding not unlike Stephen Hawking, (and fuck am I feeling dusty despite the fact I don’t drink or indulge in a bit of the old Nadia Bartel booger sugar), rewriting almost my entire article and agonising what does and doesn’t go in.
So pass me the jiffy firestarters kids, I’m setting this motherfucking bridge on fire.
After the magical mystery tour that was last year’s awards up in Bumfuck Idaho in the hills somewhere, (venue was actually great, but it was a cut lunch and a compass away and we probably couldn’t get there this year because of border closures), this year we were back at the Wine Centre smack bang in the CBD. And no complaints from me no matter what the location was because unlike our eastern states counterparts, at least we’re allowed out of the house. Even if this whole mask thing is a bit weird, and hats off, but not masks off, to Edwin* the Covid Marshall for working tirelessly through the evening trying to get people to do the right thing and fuck, someone give that guy an award. (*Not his actual name, but that’s what we decided it probably was.)
Because let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite like paying almost $200 for a shit meal and to sit there like a loser when your thing doesn’t win because the same campaign got entered in 527 different categories and won in all of them. Lucky for me, I was a loser before the night even began because I didn’t even enter anything and yet somehow managed to still be disappointed which is quite an achievement I think you’ll agree. In my defence, I have won a few awards in my time, I just don’t really enter them anymore and fuck me, if ever there was a glaring example of why, it was about to become abundantly clear that awards shows, possibly in general, but this one in particular, are what I like to refer to as Triple F – Fundamentally Fucking Flawed. And even now, I’m sitting here wondering what the fuck just happened.
And let me say up front, to save you saying it for me, I’m clearly out of touch, because every year I look at some of the shit that wins awards and just scratch my head and wonder what. the actual. fuck. And this year was no exception.
The judging panel was apparently filled with incredibly talented people, most of whom I’ve never heard of because I’m such a has-been, and I honestly have no fucking idea what criteria, or drugs, the judges are using to come up with what they did. And the chairman of judges might be a superstar creative, but is anyone else still scratching their heads wondering what the fuck she was on about quoting Cold Chisel and Rupert Murdoch and boy oh boy am I out of touch.
The night was MCd by Tim Burrowes who created Mumbrella and I may or may not have fanboyed when he even knew who I was and we chatted for a while. Mumbrella and MADTown actually started out around the same time and it turns out one of us has gone on to build his thing into an empire and hock it off for billions while one of us, well, one of us is me.
Things kicked off with AADC co-president Taylor Martin announcing the club was about to get a new website that would feature news about what’s going on in the industry and fuck I wish I’d thought of that. But no, seriously, it sounds like it could be amazing and it will connect agencies with clients, production houses with freelancers, have recipes and workout tips, and I look forward to checking that out when it launches in October. Something to look forward to.
Now for the awards themselves and first the big ones.
The good old watering can (which every year I have to deny ever denting or pissing in – hand on heart neither of those things happened so please stop asking) went to Anna Bardsley-Jones who I absolutely bloody adore and well done Anna. She’s a producer at Yah Yah and was co-president of the club for a while as well and was here to accept her award and while I’m not the one to start any rumours, I do hope she found it easier to get across the border into South Australia this year and I’m not saying she had to smuggle herself in last year, but I’m also not not saying that. A bit like me pissing in the watering can, that may or may not have ever happened. Perhaps it’s that kind of commitment and ingenuity that led to her receiving this award. Other than loving Anna to death, the only thing I will say is it does seem a bit like the watering can winners are getting younger, but that could also be because a) I’m getting older and everyone seems younger now and b) most of the older people who were likely candidates have either already won it or are dead. Or possibly c) All of the above. Either way, I wouldn’t dream of being critical of someone winning the President’s Award. Again. (Hey, IFKYK.)
I should also say that despite being told to wear masks on their way up to the stage a grand total of absolutely fucking no one did that and CODE VIOLATION! And don’t even get me started on all the indiscriminate hand shaking and hugging and if this ends up being a super spread event and sends the state into lockdown people will hate advertising even more than they already do.
Then there was the brand new Rita Siouw Design Award, and that was won by Matt Remphrey who looked an awful lot like Kellie Campbell-Illingworth because apparently he couldn’t be arsed coming. Matt’s a cracking designer who has designed more wine bottles than Brenton Bock has emptied. (Jokes, Bocky, jokes. Sort of.) Matt won it for his work for Gemtree Wines/Small Bitch. Or maybe Small Batch. But Small Bitch would have been way cooler.
Speaking of Bocky and people who couldn’t be bothered coming, Rowdy were noticeably absent this year. They had a massive year a few years ago, and a lean one last year and there was talk they may have been pissed off enough to walk away from the awards, so maybe they did?
The Gold Chair went to TBWA for their National Parks #GetTheFullPicture campaign and well there ya go, add that to my 2021 bingo card of things I did not see coming. All I’ll say about this campaign is hopefully them entering it into the awards was easier than it was to enter that fucking competition. Actually, there were probably more entries into the AADC awards than there were in that competition, but never mind, Gold Chair, woo hoo! That’s two years in a row for TBWA winning that one and yeah, I’m pretty fucking confused that other campaigns won multiple awards and this one did a Steven Bradbury and came from nowhere and fuck, hey? That’s awards for you. The award was collected by Erin Phillips and wow, she sure does look different when she’s playing footy.
The Client’s Choice Award thank fuck did not go to the client presenting the award like it did last year, which let’s not lie, was awkward AF, although it did go to a campaign that won 2,764 other awards in every category including the award for winning the most awards in the most categories. In any case, Richard Blackwell the Manager of Media Road Safety at SAPOL awarded this one to Showpony for their Fantastic Snacks ‘Yup to the Cup Countdown’ social media campaign. And if I have to see that campaign one more fucking time…
And then there was the Master’s Chair for best craft and look, I’m not saying casting isn’t a craft because obviously it is, but it’s 100% a what the fuck moment for me that Angela Heesom (who is lovely and does an amazing job of saying “hey, how about this guy?”) has now officially won more awards over the past few years than 98% of Adelaide agencies combined. OK, that might not be quite true statistically speaking, but she has won quite a few, including the Chair this year, and I do miss the days when we were good at things like sound design and taking photos and editing and stuff like that more than saying “oh, this person would be good in your ad”. And yeah, yeah, I know I’ll get in trouble for saying that, but soz, just saying what a lot of people are thinking. Or at least what I was thinking. Maybe I should enter that in the awards next year? For casting myself in a blog. If a selfish prick can win it maybe a fucking has been hack opinionated asshole can as well? Although fair play because it was a masterstroke of casting genius that Angela went home before winning the big one and cast Black Sheep’s Andrew Millar in the role of Angela to collect the award and what’s the bet that wins the chair next year? (I’ll also just come right out and say that something like KOJO/Richie Coburn’s digital installation at Sky City is an incredible example of craft and how the fuck did that not win the big one? But that’s awards and judges for you!)
Fuller won a big award for I’m not actually sure what and neither do they cause the guy who came up to collect it and give a speech was outside having a dart when they announced it but it was something to do with wine and well done them.
Anyway, it’s not like being outspoken is going to ruin my career at this point, is it?
So let’s keep digging that hole shall we?
Simple had a pretty good run of consecutive finalists with Pat Parisi collecting the first one, then sending up various other team members to collect subsequent awards which is actually a super cool move although got slightly awkward when they ran out of staff and sent up the dishy from the kitchen in his jeans and Tshirt to collect one.
Award for fastest leap up and acceptance of an award goes to Showpony because when they hit their sweet spot for the Fantastic Noodles campaign they were like sharks on the St Kilda whale carcass in an absolute frenzy racing for that stage.
The designers were back in force this year, to the point where I don’t think any advertising got awarded til we were at the after party. Some people said it was because AGDA isn’t as good as it used to be, some say it was because of the new Rita Siouw award. Whatever the reason, it was great to see so many of our design friends back at an AADC Awards.
kwp! picked up a gong for a piece of type that a few people pointed out looks an awful lot like another piece of type. And fuck, I’m no typographer, and am a bit comic sans when it comes to this stuff, but, well, yeah, it does a bit doesn’t it? And I would never suggest they ripped it off, but I can see why some people might. Actually, that’s possibly not fair because re type is probably the only bit that is actually a bit different. (And in case you’re wondering what the fuck I’m talking about, no, that graphic on the left isn’t part of the Illuminate campaign, it’s from 2016 TypeCon in Seattle and how fucking good is the internet, am I right?) At least the colour is different so that’s some consolation. Oh, wait…
And look, I’m not saying they’re the Brittish relay team right now and should be giving their award back, but actually, maybe I am saying that. Because fair’s fair. And not fair’s not fair. It’s not that the creative isn’t awesome, but if we were like the movies would this go in Best Original Screenplay or Best Adapted Screenplay and hey, coincidences happen.
I’ll also call this one out with absolutely no facts whatsoever… but when you read the award tally below in a sec, it’s worth keeping in mind that when an agency says “We’ve won XX finalists/awards” that sometimes a lot of those awards are for craft, that was often done outside the agency. Now good on them for using great crafts people, like great casting agencies for example, and coughing up the entry fees, but before you get too impressed by an agency’s haul, maybe have a look at what they won for and how and why.
This morning I can barely say my own name let alone count, (and I 100% legit put my weetbix on a bread plate instead of in a cereal bowl and I’m not even joking right now), but I reckon out of all the awards given last night, a grand total of five of them were actual advertising awards. That’s five awards for two campaigns. Everything else was craft and design and… wow. Thanks for coming.
And now the bit you probably just skipped straight to, and that’s who won the night, overall, statistically and morally and it’s Showpony. Some years it’s a bit of a tight one when one agency gets a few awards but a tonne of finalists and someone else gets more awards but less finalists and you sort of have to apply a bit of a weighted formula and do a judgement call on who won, but this year, nope Showpony were Covid and fucked everyone. Or if that metaphor isn’t working for you, for the footy inclined, they were the Bulldogs and everyone else was Port Power.
They got more awards and finalists than NSW announced new cases of Covid this week. Almost. They won 7 awards and got, wait for it, 28 finalists, with KOJO behind them on 7 awards and 7 finalists and yeah, that’s a clear win. Simple were neck and neck with KOJO with 6 awards and 11 finalists, and even though kwp! have been cleaning up around the globe with their Tourism NT work, it was a leaner night for them in good old Adelaide with 3 awards and 13 finalists. TBWA (where I won’t be offered a job any time this century) picked up 2 awards and 6 finalists. And the Gold Chair. But yeah, nah, Showpony still win.
After that, the standouts were probably Frame who only snagged 1 award but landed 9 finalists, and Blacksheep who may not have gotten any awards, but went home with 12 finalists which is pretty decent haul.
And that be that for another year.