Oddfellows man wins Safer Sydney ad challenge

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 20 March 2014

When you fight even when you win, you lose.

But Oddfellows' employee James Gillespie is no loser. The account manager is punching above his weight because the above line is his winning message for The Sydney Morning Herald "Safer Sydney Ad Challenge."

The story began when a friend sent him a link to the challenge website.

“I'd actually been self-producing a lot of things lately, and a colleague sent it to me saying that this is an opportunity for you to do something interesting and advertising-related,” he said.

The competition called for messages specifically targeting young males in a bid to curb the surge of alcohol-fuelled violence in recent years. Gillespie knew he had to do something slightly different, because "we see so many ads" that people just stop paying attention, especially the younger demographic, said Gillespie.

The winning video ad depicts a group of men standing in front of a punching bag in a pub. When one man take a swing at the bag the voice over kicks in: “Massive blow, he loses his short term memory forever. Congratulations, you're going to jail.”

Gillespie thought that the punching bag and a pub would immediately get young guys' attention, crossed with a stark message that is just as hard hitting.

“I hoped it would be something interesting enough that young people might actually watch it,” he said.

"I wanted to show that if you actually get into that situation, you're wanting to win the fight. But I wanted to highlight that even when you do win that’s a bad thing.

“The tag-line we ended up with was nobody wins, because both parties lose in the end.”

The Sydney Morning Herald “Safer Sydney” campaign was launched in 2012 following the death of Thomas Kelly from a single punch, and the campaign was revived this year after the similar death of teenager Daniel Christie – the 15th fatality from the so-called “coward punch” in six years.

The SMH asked readers to come up with a 30-second video advertisement or poster campaign aimed at curbing the prevalence of alcohol-related violence.

A $2,500 prize pool was increased to $5,800 when crowd-sourcing design website DesignCrowd and agency Ogilvy & Mather came on board for the cause.

Gillespie plans to use his win to not only give back to those who helped him make the ads, but also achieve his goal of moving into art direction, something he's wanted to do for the last year.

“I'm pushing now – massively and the win has given me that little push I needed, to show I can actually do it.”

Almost 1,500 entries were received from not only Australians, but also from people as far afield as Britain, the Philippines, Greece, Azerbaijan and Romania, using crowd-sourcing design site DesignCrowd.

The judging panel included Rob and Claudia McEwen, the father and sister of Michael McEwen, who was assaulted in Bondi in December; Leigh Bignell, Executive Business Director, Ogilvy & Mather; Josephine Sabin, Community Manager, DesignCrowd; Matt Hardie, 2013 Tropfest winner; and The Sydney Morning Herald News Director, Judith Whelan.

Ogilvy & Mather Executive Business Director Leigh Bignell said: “There were a number of very strong entries that focused on the serious and severe consequences of alcohol-fuelled-violence.

"They highlighted that this aggression impacts not only the victim, but the victim’s friends and family, and with the new change in legislation, the perpetrator and his friends and family. It’s a tough brief. We know that advertising alone won’t solve it, but it does have a role.”

The winners in the "Safer Sydney Ad Challenge" were:

Video – James Gillespie who receives $2,500

DesignCrowd Poster – Nick Churchill who receives $1,000

Reader’s Choice Winner - Kip Elder who receives $1,000 (courtesy of Ogilvy & Mather).

Video winner Gillespie wanted to thank all those who helped him make the ad. Those people are: Gianna Falchi - director, Pat Sidoti - editor as well as actors: Walter Davis Hart, Daniel Goldstein, Maximilian Paul, Diego AR Melo, Robert Peck, Nicholas Nielsen.

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