Edward King hournal entry 2: Meeting Goodby/Aussie Experts

Monday, 22 October 2018

Edward King: Meeting Goodby / Aussie Expats

In 2018, Edward King from QLD was named as Australia's Top Student at AWARD School. For the first time, the national prize included a trip to San Francisco for a once in a lifetime experience with Facebook's creative ambassador group. Read part two of Edward's 'Postcards from Menlo Park' series in this Campaign Brief and Comms Council exclusive.

Edward KingBy Thursday, most of the Creative Ambassador Group had dispersed, either flying back to Australia or continuing their travels elsewhere. I was lucky enough to spend my last couple of days being introduced to a number of Aussie and Kiwi expats working in agencies across the bay area. Prior to coming on the trip, I had no idea there was such a large Australian advertising community here, but after the past week, it was clear to me why.
Firstly, I met a very friendly Sally Hastings and Scott van den Driesen, Melbourne locals, and their colleague, Phil VanBuren, Colorado native who are all ACDs at an independent agency, Heat. One thing that really caught my eye as soon I walked in was their awards cabinet. A ton of awards had been piled up inside an arcade claw machine that was fully functional – it was the coolest showcase I’ve ever seen. They took me on a tour around their agency and introduced me to a few of their colleagues. As I was walking through their main workspace, I noticed my AWARD portfolio was up on a few monitors being observed. The immediate reaction was anxiety ha, but it felt surreal thinking about and being reminded that that was the whole reason I was here. After the formal introductions, Sally, Scott and Phil took me out for lunch to one of their local favourites down the road. We discussed their transition to the States and chatted all about their experience working in San Francisco.

Edward KingLater that day, I was fortunate to meet Gavin McLeod, ECD at AKQA SF. He shared some really valuable insights on the importance of brand experience being at the forefront of the industry. We chatted about our similar backgrounds having both grown up in a number of different and diverse locations around the world. I was then taken on a tour around the agency and their different departments in the early evening, by which point most people had headed off, except for a select few creative who were still around and showed me some of the cool stuff they were working on.

Edward KingContinuing the circuit the following morning, I met the very lovely, Kate Catalinac, CD from BBDO SF and NZ native. We caught up over coffee in the financial district and she spoke of her journey moving here with her creative partner. We spoke very candidly of the work she’s developing and how much she’s enjoying life in SF. A recurring theme throughout each meeting was that everyone who moved to SF unexpectedly fell in love with the city and stayed longer than anticipated. Kate told of her intentions to live here for two years originally but had quickly turned into a decade.

Edward KingLater I met with Gus Johnston, another Melbourne local and CD at Venables, a well-known independent agency in SF. He had just arrived back from a few days shooting in Montréal, so I felt really fortunate and grateful that he squeezed in time to catch up. We spoke about his transition to SF and some of the major differences he found working on clients in the States in comparison to Australia. One of the main things highlighted was the scale of the projects compared to back home seeing as the appeal must reach a broader audience. He laughed about a job that had recently completed after two years of planning and production, a foreign concept to me in what I’d been exposed to.

Edward KingIt’s Friday and the trip is nearing the end. I was standing in front of a large brick building with the letters G S & P in front of me. Everything surrounding the building, including the building itself, was quintessentially San Francisco – it was positioned on one of the steepest hills I’ve come across to so far, with a tram line running directly in front of it, and down the hill in between the buildings you could see the bay with the Oakland Bay Bridge in the distance.

Before I stepped inside, I took a moment to breathe and collect my thoughts – awkwardly lingering by the front door. I was nervous. Seeing the foyer was grander in person. I met Jen, Goodby’s lovely PA who escorted me upstairs to his office. Inside was Jeff, who greeted me with a warm smile and handshake. Meeting Jeff Goodby was another surreal moment from the trip, not just because he’s one of the industry’s best, but he was also one of the International Super Jury who gave feedback on the State Winners’ AWARD School books. He was extremely humble and quickly doused any nerves I had as we chatted briefly in his office before going to lunch.

Full disclosure, I’m a naturally introverted person but conversation flowed as we discussed his work, my work and the industry’s work in general. I knew this was one of those ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ type moments so I fired as many questions as I could and tried to learn and absorb everything. He struck me as very kind, courteous and down to earth, which isn’t a surprise, but refreshing for a person as important to the industry as he is. He was curious to know what my favourite AWARD School response was and I told him that it had to be either TV or ‘Game Changer’. Both challenged me a lot to persevere and continue seeking feedback from tutors and eventually pushed me to two pieces I’m most proud of.

Some key pieces of advice I took away from him were to avoid picking a favourite medium – not to be typecast and that it was far better to be an all-rounder. He also advised me not to be afraid to fail, and that some of the best work results from it not being right the first time.

Our conversation continued as we walked back to the office where he took me to meet what felt like the entire team, including another selection of Australians who had taken up residency at GS&P. I was so appreciative of everyone’s time and kindness. It was lovely to see how much their team adored Goodby and that he was a friend to them all. I feel like I had a smile permanently fixed on my face. Truly a day and week that I’ll never forget.

This article was first published on Campaign Brief and has been reproduced here with permission.

Further information

To learn more about AWARD School attend the AWARD School Info Night, 6 February 2019, register here.

AWARD School information night

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