Raw salmon, alcohol and the great Nile Rodgers disaster. Andy Flemming's inevitable second AdFest diary

Andy Flemming_Adfest3.jpgI thought I'd lost my passport this morning, and after a brief, but quite dramatic few minutes I managed to find it in my bag along with a strip of Nurofen Plus.

To be honest, I was more relieved to find the painkillers as a passport can't dent a hangover the size of the one I woke up with. Most of the judges have been out until late, so the thought of sitting in a dark room for the day with endless coffee and absolutely no speaking allowed is seen as more of a blessed relief than the chore it can sometimes be.
Andy Flemming_Adfest1.jpgOur chairman of judges for film and radio is Wain Choi, CCO of Cheil Worldwide in Seoul. Like a Korean James Bond, he's a dapper, well-groomed man with fantastic hair and a perfectly ironed shirt. He's also seemingly incapable of sweating. If I had to find the exact opposite of me this morning, it'd be him. I've ploughed through my entire plate of Mentos throughout the morning and have now moved onto his. If he minds, he doesn't show it.

We rid the festival of stragglers and start judging Internet films. Some are seven minutes long, highly emotional and beautifully shot stories of Asian family life that don't explain themselves until the last few minutes. We vote to unanimously decide if we're all bored so we can move onto the next entry. After all, we've got hundreds to go through and if they're not engaging they shouldn't get in. We've all run out of Mentos towards the end and move onto the little packets of Clorets. We might be hungover, but at least we're minty fresh.

After lunch we're escorted to a small studio where we all have our official AdFest portrait taken. At the end of each judge's session, we're allowed to sit by the computer and select the one we like the best. As we're all in the room watching, this means that we can amusingly see everyone's deeply personal foibles about the way they look. Of course, it only takes Wain seconds to pick his as he looks like a Korean movie star in every shot. I need a good few minutes to find a picture that doesn't look like I've got a double chin.

We take a minibus to the Intercontinental Hotel as, apparently, we're doing some sort of blind wine tasting challenge. As someone with absolutely no palette who pretends to like wine almost exclusively on planes, this fills me with absolute dread as most people seem really up for it. After my third glass, I start saying things like 'it's peppery,' because I've heard people saying stuff like that on TV. I impress everyone by successfully picking one as a New Zealand Pinot. I'll admit in print that I heard that from one of the judges and cheated. Fuck it. I was never going to win. I leave early, taking the tiny, unairconditioned lift up from the beach to reception, the very same lift that not half an hour later traps Cory Esse from Finch and about eight others for fifteen minutes. They didn't seem to be particularly bothered by the experience. I would have been screaming, crying and attempting to violently bash my way out of there through the lift roof.

When I return to my room I find that I've left a raw salmon entree from earlier and finish it. Based on my experiences the next morning I'm now convinced it was a little bit off. It's only then that I realise that I could have had it earlier and ended up in the stuck lift. That would have been extraordinarily unpleasant for all concerned. There by the grace of god etc.

We finish judging, having handed out metal to some wonderful work. The standard has been remarkably high and scam free. Having a great jury has made the entire process an absolute pleasure and relatively argument free. The best work got up, the average work didn't and we found some film that genuinely floored us. Asia is on the move both economically and creatively and it shows. There should be way more Australian entries.

Andy Flemming_Adfest2.jpgI receive my official delegate pass to enter the seminars. They've used the official headshot I sent them rather than the one that's now blown up in the main hall. As I walk past it I realise instantly, to paraphrase Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, that 'I chose poorly.'

It's 9:45 and I've been excitedly queueing to see Nile Rodgers, the legendary guitarist, most recently famous for Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky,' conduct a two-hour workshop on music. Within moments I realise that I've been waiting for over an hour and a half to see Niall Rogers from 'Sizzer' in Amsterdam. I'm sure Niall is tremendously talented. I'm also sure that it would have been a superb workshop as I scampered off to watch something about, you know, data and storytelling and stuff.

The main halls are filled with print and design. The work is crafted to perfection. Admittedly, there's another highlighter pen campaign (it makes things stand out!) and a highly unusual poster about poo that I've been trying to work out for a few hours now. If anyone can translate it, let me know.

Andy Flemming pic.jpgAdFest has been, so far, informative, fun and filled with the cream of Asia's creative talent. It also has hall after hall filled with some of the best work I've seen in ages. It's not scam. It's real. And it's scary good. It's worth sending your best stuff here. Actually, fuck it, make a point of attending next year. Bring light, airy shorts and at least two packets of Nurofen Plus.

Andy Flemming (pictured on left with Ted Royer, Jureeporn Thaidumrong and Kim Shaw) is Group Creative Director of M&C Saatchi, Sydney.



Belinda said:

Australia's Charlie Brooker.

Do more!

Simon Tesler said:

Great piece Andy! A second career in stand-up comedy beckons...

Bill Bryson said:


CW said:

Hilarious. You're channeling Richard Meltzer.

Ad critic said:

Bravo. In stitches

Joe J said:

I always look forward to reading Andy's raw and real reviews.
Great write up.
Top guy.

Bring on the next one!

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