The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Why Perth Encapsulates: What Got You Here Isn’t What Will Get You Where You Could Be Next …
October 11, 2023, 7:30 am
Filed under: Advertising, Agency Culture, Attitude & Aptitude, Australia, Childhood, Dad

So a month or so ago, I was invited to speak at State of Social in Perth.

Perth is an interesting place, because as much as it is part of Australia, it doesn’t feel it.

I don’t mean that from an architectural perspective … a cultural perspective or a retail perspective … more it’s overall attitude and vibe.

Part of that is because it’s literally thousands of miles away from the East Coast. Part of that is the condescending way the East Coast often looks – and acts – towards WA with its mining economy. And part of that is the insecurity the city feels towards who they are and maybe who they think they should be.

In many ways, it reminded me of issues raised in Dream Small. Where young New Zealanders told us they felt there was no space, place or credibility for them to have a chance to take the nation to somewhere new. Held back by others [read: old white men] privilege, systems, narratives and fragility.

I should point out no one was saying they hated their country – which is much better than say, the UK – it was more a feeling their dreams and ambitions were viewed as a bit childish and they should be grateful for what others had done for them and before them.

A prison of others achievements and expectations, so to speak.

No wonder the overarching feeling was one of being tolerated rather than welcomed.

Again, this is not unique to NZ … it’s in many countries and cities … Perth, being one of them.

When I was there, I met so many talented creative people and agencies who felt big local companies dismissed the experience and views of the local industry in favour of agencies on the East Coast … for no other reason than they are based in Perth.

Even if those people had left Perth to work at the best agencies and biggest clients in the World before coming back.

Then there were others who discounted the views of the local industry simply because they didn’t blindly subscribe to certain narratives certain people in Perth never want to let go of.

Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

Talk about encouraging talent to leave the state … to inadvertently position Perth as a place where you can grow up and raise families but nothing in-between.

What a short-sighted viewpoint.

What a way to devalue the cities future.

The establishment are literally choosing control over possibilities and potential.

But then that’s the every day ego and fragility so many face – especially People of Colour – which is why I’m in no doubt it one of them read this post, they’d see me as the enemy, all the while failing to realise I’m not attacking their city, but celebrating the possibilities for an even brighter future.

And there’s a special reason for that …

You see in many ways, Perth was my first introduction to Australia.

My Dad’s friend, Roger, lived there and it sounded impossibly exotic for a little boy living in Nottingham.

While we never got to see him there, on his occasional visits ‘home’, he looked like he’d come from another planet.

With an accent that went up at the end of sentences, so it always sounded like he was asking a question.

Roger died years ago so when I found myself walking around the streets of Subiaco – where he once lived – you may appreciate how it felt a little strange for me.

Like I’d been granted access to a little piece of my Dad’s history. A chance to experience a place he was connected to, even though he never was here.

And that made me feel I was close to Dad again … and that was a gift. Exploring our distant past while somehow being together in the present. United by history, memories and love.

That’s why I want Perth to thrive.

It’s important to me. And given the talent I got to meet there, there’s a real chance it can … if they are allowed to believe it and the city believes in them.

I hope they do.

Until then, thanks Roger, thanks Perth and thanks State of Social for bringing me here.

I’ll never forget what you did for me.

I’ll never stop believing in what the underdog can achieve.

As long as they believe in themselves and they’re encouraged to dream big, not dream small.

And if you’re looking for somewhere to start … start with Hypnosis and Berlin.

Comments Off on Why Perth Encapsulates: What Got You Here Isn’t What Will Get You Where You Could Be Next …

Comments are closed.