The Brand Agency, Wildlings and Kapelo win big at the PADC Skulls 2023: 8 Gold Skulls awarded and Katie Pelosi named Diamond Skull Winner
The 2023 PADC Skulls kicked off with a bang on Friday night, in their first time held in the ballroom at the Westin Hotel. It was ably hosted by comedian Nath Valvo, with a whirlwind and energetic Welcome to Country by Ingrid Cummings. With the theme of ‘Find Fame’, after a round of judging on the ground in New York City with 13 judges, and with Collins Head of Brand and Design Panel judge Nick Ace in attendance, over 270 of WA’s creative and marketing community convened to celebrate the best of WA creativity, digital, design, media & PR and production.
393 entries were submitted to the Skulls this year, which represented every field of WA commercial creativity. The design for the 2023 Skulls was created by Nativ Design, in collaboration with Matsu.
All of the winning work and finalists will be published on the PADC Skulls’ official Instagram account over the next few days at https://www.instagram.com/padcskulls.
The highest entered categories (outside of the Student Skulls categories, which were well represented) were Film (Up to 60 secs Single), Best Direction in Communication Crafts, Brand Scheme in SME/Not for Profit, Best Art Direction & Design in Communication Crafts. Many of the newer categories, including Best Digital Enhancement, Sponsorships, Digital for Good or Branded Audio & Podcasts had no entries in 2023, representing a huge opportunity for forward-thinking creatives and agencies to make a splash with far less competition in future awards.
There were eight coveted Gold Skulls awarded on the night, with three (Best of Show/Film, Best Direction, Best Editing) given to Everyday Journeys by The Brand Agency and Clockwork Films for the Road Safety Commission. The campaign was based on the insight that everyday Western Australian road users doing normal, everyday journeys are responsible for 70% of crashes, rather than illegal activity such as speeding, drink or drug driving.The campaign also picked up 2 Silver awards.
The Brand and Director/DOP Allan Myles also won Gold for Best Cinematography on CBH Group’s film ’90 Harvests Strong’.
Wildlings were another big agency winner on the night, with two Gold Skulls for their ‘OnlyFans’ billboard in Out of Home and Creative Use of Media for Clothing Please, and Frank Carroll’s Gold Skull for his direction on their Anglicare WA film ‘Cold Call – Denise’.
Designer Katie Pelosi’s Kapelo agency won the last Gold Skull for her Brand Refresh work on St Peter’s Primary School. Pelosi also won the overall Diamond Skull award for 2023, as well as winning Designer of the Year in the Diamond Skulls.
Other individual Diamond Skulls winners were Ben Hardy (Social Meteor) for Art Director of the Year, Tim Count (MDS) for Composer of the Year, Monique Gordon (Rare) for Digital Talent of the Year, Mauro Palmieri for Photographer of the Year, Matt Wilson (Wildlings) for Copywriter of the Year, Martin Wilson for Director of the Year, Katie Trew (Clockwork Films) for Producer of the Year, Justin Braine for Sound Designer of the Year, Garreth Bennett (Wildings) for Young Talent of the Year, Adam Rule (Rhythm) for Editor of the Year, and Evan Murie (Brand) for Client Service Person of the Year.
Silver Skulls were awarded to ‘MLP — Light at Work. Light at Play’ for Juicebox (Best User Interface Design), ‘Everyday Journeys’ for The Brand Agency (Integrated Campaign, Film up to 60 sec), ‘Unicare Early Childhood Centre’ for Carly Moone/Luke Baker (Best Illustration), Sussex Taps for Humaan (Best Websites Brand Experience and Use of Experience Design), ‘Food Chain’ by Joshua Robbins/the Studio at SCA (Radio up to 30 sec), WAFL – Country Football by Beautiful Pictures and Luke Sargon (Best Direction), ‘Found Developments’ by Kapelo (Brand Scheme SME/Not for Profit and Best Typography), ‘PiOK! Brand’ by Block (Brand Scheme SME/Not for Profit), ‘Anglicare WA – Home for the Holidays’ by Wunderman Thompson (Design for Good), ‘West Australian Ballet – Side by Side’ by Wunderman Thompson (Print & Publication), ‘Mount Garment’ for Wildlings (Film up to 60 sec), and ‘Denise’ by Wildlings (Best Writing).
Bronze Skulls were awarded to ‘Lifeline WA Ball’ by Gatecrasher (Out of Home Advertising – Interactive, Installations or Experiential), ‘Cannabis Botanical Distillery’ by Juicebox (Packaging), ‘Sentient’ by Rare (Brand Scheme SME/Not-for-Profit), ‘See Subiaco’ by Rare (Brand Scheme SME/Not-for-Profit), ‘No One Plans a Crash’ by The Brand Agency (Out of Home Advertising Single and Campaign), ‘Unicare’ by The Brand Agency (Brand Refresh SME/Not-for-Profit), ‘Australia’s Golden Outback – Unfluencers’ by 303 MullenLowe Perth (Creative Use of Media), PIQUE by Humaan (User Interface Design), ‘Found’ by Kapelo (Logo), ‘Liberty Alive Branding’ and ‘The Skulls 2023’ by Nativ Design (Campaign Branding), ‘Laurel Nannup – What road are you going to take?’ by Nani (Spatial Design), ‘PiOK!’ Website by Block (Websites Brand Experience), ‘Unsame’ by Block (Best Art Direction & Design), ‘Pulse’ by Block (Design Communications), ‘Mount Garment’ by Wildlings (Best Art Direction & Design), ‘Denise’ by Wildlings (Film for Good – Campaign), ‘Redheads Travel Free’ by Moonsail (Out of Home Advertising) and ‘Welcome to Country Roads’ by MDS (Best Original Composition).
PADC President Josh Edge gave his final speech as President in an often emotional and wide-ranging speech that touched on many of the challenges and opportunities facing WA creativity. It is printed below in full (minus some of the touches added in the heat of the moment)…
2023 PADC President’s Speech
Delivered by Josh Edge
The PADC, our committee members and everyone here tonight acknowledge that we are standing on Noongar Boodja this evening, on the lands of the Whadjuk people,, and that sovereignty was never ceded. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, as some of the originators of storytelling, creativity, and culture. Always was, always will be.
So this is it. Final year. Last call. So let’s get into it, shall we, before I enter the dustbin of history alongside the likes of Braddock, Cairns, Tinning, Battista, Illian, Edmonds and the rest of ’em. It almost sounds like a police lineup, or some kind of cheese board, when you say all those ex-President’s names out loud. It would be nice to have some more females in there, wouldn’t it? Or at least some non-cis white men representing the body of WA creativity. The door is open, people, and I’m still here to help you through it. But more on that later.
I’ve tried really hard, over the past few years of the Perth Advertising and Design Club, to keep the Club as politically neutral as possible for a whole range of reasons – some to represent the interests of our diverse member base as fairly as possible, some in an attempt to build credibility and funding connections with our friends in State Government, and some just because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. But with creativity, truth and communication itself under attack, and the fact that it’s my last crack at the bat as President, I thought this would be as good a time as any to remind ourselves, and myself, a little about what it is we do for a living.
Whatever you think of the results of our recent referendum, I don’t think anyone would say that we knocked the communication challenge out of the park. In fact, I would characterise it as a bit of a – and I’m going to use a technical term here -‘clusterfuck’ in terms of a public dialogue and communication. At the end of the day, not much seemed to be achieved from the whole exercise except more confusion, fear, anger and, most importantly, uncertain outcomes between the 3.8% of First Nations people and the rest of Australia. And when communication breaks down, when messaging isn’t clear and consistent, when people can’t articulate their hopes and fears and ideas, things tend to break down very quickly. A well-meaning mistake is still a mistake. Contradictory ‘facts’ aren’t facts at all. Remember that the ‘winning’ side in this referendum, in a race with no real winners, managed to run on a platform of ‘If you don’t know, vote no’.
The idea that “not knowing something” being a complete and final end in itself, an outcome of being happily ignorant of a topic and still voting on it with a clear conscious, was completely terrifying to someone like me who makes a living in the communication industry.
We ARE the communicators.
We ARE the people who translate, who influence, who inspire. We fill the spaces of public life with brand messaging, education, sales tactics, behaviour change, art and commerce.
We turn the gobbledy gook of universities and government departments into clear and compelling benefits. We stop people from smoking, eating too much chicken grease, and having sex without condoms. We help people save for a happy and safe retirement and transition their lives to the NDIS and aged care services. We make people laugh with a Transperth safety message, feel nostalgic over gambling or home insurance, we SELL empty blocks of land and empty out the shelves of the latest WA craft beer.
And we solve problems. Not in the way that scientists or teachers or doctors do. We do it by talking out loud on billboards and websites and ads and design systems, simplifying and clarifying public conversations, sparking interest, creating a story where there wasn’t one before. We create mind bubbles that linger in peoples’ minds after they’ve gone to bed at night, or when they’re chatting over breakfast. It’s a nefariously ingenious way of getting shit done, the right shit, and it means we get paid to put some of our art, our ideas and ourselves out into the real world.
But, as an industry, we’ve been kind of sleepwalking through the conversations, when Australians most needed to have a clear and consistent dialogue about urgent topics. And that makes me sad, and a little embarrassed. The need for great communication, and great communicators, at every level of society, in a time of AI, fake news, and endless fire hoses of worthless ‘content’ has never been more vital. Don’t let anybody let you forget that.
I listen to too many podcasts, some of which I make myself, I watch too many think pieces and I read too many articles. I hear that marketing is dead, that advertising is dead, that brands are dead, that influence is dead. Bullshit. The real trouble is that everyone is marketing all the time, there’s too much of everything, too much crap, too much noise. That’s not the death of communication, that’s abundant life, way too much of it, like a garden full of weeds. People need clarity, truth, beauty and humour as much as they ever did. We need to get back to chopping out the bullshit, the ugly and the inane instead of adding to it. And we should invest our time and our money and our energy into celebrating it when it works, like we’re about to do tonight.
There’s a famous quote that many of us have heard. When Winston Churchill was asked to cut all funding of the arts in favour of putting the money into the war effort, he was said to reply, “Then what are we fighting for?”. It’s a nice sentiment, but it turns out he never actually said it. Cos politicians don’t tend to say things like that at the best of times, and most of mainstream WA wouldn’t even think to think of it. After all, creativity is something that just happens, right? It just kind of bubbles up out of the ground somehow. We don’t need to properly fund it, or support it, or give it time to grow or develop. We barely need to train it, we certainly don’t need paid interns to join it. We don’t need to set aside time to nurture it in our business, or promote it to the world.
Except that we do. I joined the PADC because of something Mike Edmonds said 100 years ago, when I was first starting out in the industry: “We’re all stuck in Perth, so let’s make it as awesome as we can while we’re here.” What a great, hilarious, and true thing to say. And it’s kept me going through some pretty gnarly times as President, through COVID and the Creative Showcase when we couldn’t run a proper awards show, to the expansion of the Diamond Skulls, to the nightmare price rises of venues and sit-down meals, through the Commune events run on good faith, no money and great people from the Indigenous Design workshops to the Perth Director’s Panels to the Radio and Sound panel at Freo Social and the Mental Health surveys and collabs with Never Not Creative and Unlimited. The judging in Manchester, in New York, and the feedback and knowledge transfer between the cities. The incredible Student Skulls sessions run by the committee, lead by Ting and Claudia and Mauro, with support from North Metro TAFE and Tim Ewers and Leigh Wood, that just get better every year.
The people out there, our friends or our parents or our clients, or even our agencies, will try to convince us that creativity and comms is, at best, a fun diversion from the real world. That advertising is escapism from real business concerns, that film is an expensive junket, that websites come from Wix software and that design is something pretty to hang on the side of the building. Fuck that. What I’ve seen, is that we’re the only industry that gets to sit in on every other industry, from homelessness charities to IT start-ups, from craft gin distilleries to cancer support centres. We get to steer the conversation from corporate greenwashing to practical action, we make taglines that our clients are forced to live up to, we create films and photographs and designs that make our clients see themselves in a way they never imagined, and change the minds of the real people that see it in the wild.
Now just to lighten the mood a little, I’ve been to a few funerals this year. But what I always notice at them, is how much comfort people find in creative communication when the shit’s hit the fan and nothing else matters. We listen to music, watch films and photographs of our departed loved ones, we read and cry along to poetry and stories. It’s a cliche, but nobody looks to the cold, hard facts of a person’s life or their economic state, or their medical records, when we celebrate them. We turn to language and art and creativity to express the things that we don’t have words for. This is important, vital stuff, that so many budget pressures and time pressure and people with a lack of imagination try to undercut, undermine, and push to the back of the room.
It just makes me think that maybe the bean counters have had their time, and it’s time to tell them, politely, to piss off… just a little bit. This stuff is important, let’s treat it that way on Monday morning.
I know not all of what I’ve been banging on about, will be reflected in the work tonight. This is the day-to-day stuff, the weekday stuff, that powers our careers and feeds our kids and builds the idea of what WA creativity is to the rest of the world. But I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you, and congratulations, for those who have done the work, any work, this year. I’m proud to be associated with all of you.
Next, and quickly, I promise, I’d like to thank the PADC committee for sticking by us this year, and some of them for the previous few years. Maurice Melchers, Claudia Brazier, Ting Sia, Leigh Wood, Rachel Wong, Calle Bolgrem, Mauro Palmieri, Dan Agostino, Rob Mead, David Burger, Tim Ewers, Mel Radman… the list goes on and on. The people who have stepped up, out, and sideways to help the Club over the last few years, who sat on panels and helped judged Student work and listened to me or Tia bitch and moan… every single one of you was appreciated by me. I hope that this energy goes on with a fresh perspective.
Thanks also to our incredible sponsors, especially in this time, when we most needed support from the wider industry. Your support was incredibly appreciated by all of us, and you all deserve a massive round of applause: Peach Video, Southern Cross Austereo, Digital Loop, Crystal Head Vodka, Idle Hands, Val Morgan, Studio 281, Advance Print, WA Billboards, Sandbox and Nativ Design.
You might notice that I’m not announcing a new President or Club Manager today. Truth be told, we don’t have one. No doubt, after over 40 years, there’s a lot to unpack about what an organisation for WA creativity looks like going forward. Do we need an award show? Do we need members? What do we need to make sure that WA creativity is in the best possible place to weather the storms and celebrate the peaks together?
Whether it’s a body, a not-for-profit, a union or just a low-key networking place for the PADC in 2024 and beyond is really up to all of you. We’re the ones who decide what we want our industry representation to be. All I know is that the last few years have been some of the most amazing, infuriating and inspiring times in my life and that if my mental health is to stay slightly ahead of my cholesterol and heart health, it’s time to step back a little and let someone smarter, or richer, or even better looking, take the wheel.
If any of this resonates with you, and regardless of how busy you think you are or what experience you do or don’t have, I’d just ask you to think about being part of the solution, whatever you think it could be. We’ll be there to support you and cheer you on.
One last thing, and because I’ve been talking for hours at this point, can I ask that Tia Brazier come up here to stand on stage awkwardly with me. I know most of you know that Tia has been the life, face, heavily medicated, on-the-phone-til-2am, heart and soul of the Club since she took over from Dani Norrish back in 2019. But I can’t express to you what this incredible woman, this absolute lunatic, has absorbed, given up of her time and her family and her career, and given back to all of us to keep this Club not just alive, but thriving. Tia and I have literally laughed and cried together for years now, screamed at the frustrations of the industry and bathed in the talent around us. I don’t care what anyone says, nobody has worked as hard at their job as Tia has in the role of PADC Club Manager. Perhaps unnecessarily so to be honest – if anyone is interested in taking over – it can be an easier job, and has been. But the special sauce and extra energy that Tia has poured into every facet of the role has made me realise how lazy I actually am at most things in life. And so with that said, and because we couldn’t send her off without something sparkly and diamond-encrusted, it’s my privilege to present to T, a specially-created Diamond Skull award (that she doesn’t have to give back at the end of the year). We don’t deserve Tia, but she certainly deserves a round of applause.
All right, that’s it from me for the last time. Thanks for everything, you’ve all been amazing.
As Edmo said, “Let’s keep making WA as awesome as we can while we’re still here”.
Photos on the night by Andrea Mae @ maedforu.com