Dear AADC, it’s not you, it’s me.
Dear AADC, we need to talk. Well, you may not, but I do. Because fuck, that’s what I do. Endlessly. Sometimes needlessly. Incessantly even. But this time it’s important. To me at least.
You see, we’ve been together for about thirty years now. When we first met, you were everything to me. Going to your annual awards show was literally my Christmas. My biggest day of the year. I looked forward to it for weeks, even months, regardless of whether or not I had work entered or not.
I loved the glitz, the glamour, the celebration of creativity… and the booze. Boy did I love the booze. Even when I was a poorly paid junior, (as opposed to an even more poorly paid senior citizen), I scrimped and saved to go see you because… I loved you so much. I still blame you for many of my poorest decisions. Only half of which I actually remember. Like that time I literally got carried out by about 9am. Like that time I dropped my leather pants, and hit the dance door in my glow in the dark stars and stripes boxer shorts. Like that time that guy that wasn’t me hit James Rickard in the face for no apparent reason. (Which wasn’t my decision, but how can I not mention it?) Like that time I was so drunk, I still couldn’t pick my car up the next day at 5pm. Like that time… oh, never mind, you get the idea. We’ve shared a lot over the years. I think.
We’ve also played pool, ten pin bowled and lawn bowled. We’ve listened to inspirational creative people over lunch. We’ve danced. We’ve sung. We’ve debated. We’ve created. We’ve done it all. And then some.
A few years back when you made it official, was one of the most mind blowingly happy days of my life. I know it wasn’t ‘marriage’, ((because we hadn’t had the plebiscite yet), but becoming a life member was… sublime. We’d always been in this together, but now it was official. We’d be inseparable. Forever. And ever. Amen. Or is should that be “Ah, men”. Whatever.
But then something changed. It wasn’t overnight, and looking back, I can see now there were already cracks appearing. Maybe I just didn’t want to see them because we had so much history together. They were definitely there though. And today, when I look at you, you’re almost unrecognisable to me.
I’m still not sure if it’s you that’s changed, or me. Or if we’ve simply grown apart and need to ‘consciously uncouple’ Gwyneth and Chris-style. Because we’re headed in different directions. Perhaps we simply have ‘irreconcilable differences’?
The AADC I knew and loved was all about creativity. We didn’t give a fuck about Business SA or lobbying the government. Hell, we didn’t really even give a fuck about the results our work achieved. There was another boring effectiveness snooze-fest awards show for that malarky. No, we were simply about celebrating great creative work. And boy did we do that. In spades. With bells on.
At first our relationship was like any new relationship when you do it all the time, and you handed out awards like Michael Jackson hands out jars of Vaseline. After a while, things cooled down, and I’d often feel completely rejected. “There were 12 entries, no finalists and no awards” you’d say. “How could there be no fucking finalists or awards?” I’d wonder. I know we have to have standards, but do they get to the end of the 100m men’s final at the Olympics and say “nah, fuck you, you didn’t run fast enough so even though you were the best on the day and came first, you get fuck all. Thanks for coming.”? No they fucking don’t. But again, maybe that’s just me wanting you to put out more than you did. So I rolled with that. I can take “no” for an answer. Pinky promise.
When I look at you now though, I’m confused. Are you even the same club? Why all the talk about the name change? Why all the talk about lobbying the government? When did you grow up and get serious about stuff I actually don’t give a shit about? How did that happen? Who decided this was a good idea? Is it your friends/members? It’s them, isn’t it? It must be. Are they influencing you? Cause I barely recognise you at all.
I mean, it’s not that I don’t give a fuck about the survival and prosperity of the industry – of course I do. Well, mostly I actually don’t cause I’m as old as fuck and will be dead soon and it won’t matter how many jobs are available here in Adelaide, but you know, I still have a sentimental affection for it and would like to see it survive past next Wednesday even though Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and DDB and Clemenger and Y&R have gone bye byes. But when did you decide this would be your mission? What’s next? Fighting for the Bite? Stopping Adani? Convicting Pell? Oh, wait… Can’t we just go back to those fun loving, carefree days, where all we cared about was doing cool shit? Like creative work?
I’ve never cared what your name was, whether you were called an ‘Art Directors’ Club or not, it was always just about who you were, on the inside. And together we cared about doing cool shit. I sure as shit was never an ‘art director’, my spelling was too good for that, but I still somehow managed to work past that literal hurdle, and know you were the club for me. Even when you transitioned to the Advertising and Design Club, it mattered not, as long as we still celebrated cool shit together. But somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost our way a bit?
I don’t need you to deliver me chocolates, flowers, blowjobs or discounts on lawyers via Business SA. I don’t even really care how many sponsors or members you have. Look, I get it, those things are important to you, but to me, I just want to be part of a ‘Creativity Club’. Not a fucking… association. That’s what my dad would have been interested in. Actually, that’s not true, my dad was a refugee who could barely speak English and thought I worked at the Advertiser and not in Advertising, but even he would have hated that stupid fucking name. Mostly, you can be Bruce, or Caitlyn, or whoever you really want to be, but do you have to be a fucking ‘Association’??!?!?! Being in a ‘Creative Collective’ was what I thought I signed up for when we first got together. It’s what I think we made official when you made me a life member. (Even if at the time I made one of those completely delusional comments about how usually they give it to some old fart that no one in the room even remembers, only to realise they did again when they gave it to me.)
And yet here we are. You’re off on some crusade, and I just want to do cool shit, celebrate cool shit, talk to other people about doing cool shit, and learn from people who are doing cooler shit than I am. (Which is pretty much everyone.) But for some reason you’re off talking to the fucking government. Zzzzz….. Booooooooriiiiiing. You’ll be joining the fucking Liberal party next. Or the foreign legion. Or Doctors without Borders. Or Hitler Youth. Who are you even?
And hey, I wish you all the best with that if that floats your boat, and that’s what your members want. And I hope you’ll be happy together. I just missed that memo. That left turn at Albuquerque. That deviation from the Cool Shit Agenda.
So thanks for being so amazing for so long, but it looks like our relationship as we know it has run its course. I hope you’ll enjoy doing your grown up stuff and find happiness in the arms of the people who give a shit about that stuff. For me, I’m just going to do some soul searching. And get on Tinder. Because the truth is, I’m actually pretty sure it’s not me.
PS If you’ve got an opinion on what you think the AADC should be, not just in name but in spirit, let’s hear it. Leave a comment. Jump on Facebook. Let’s talk.