This has been the worst kept secret, largely on my part because you can’t get me there fast enough (and it wasn’t really a secret)…but I’m moving to Canada. Yay! It’s been a long time coming. I almost mic-dropped about 9 months ago after some job contract dramas and an unhappy+stressful living situation. But relationships have always mattered to me and jumping ship and moving another 12,000km from ‘home’ didn’t give me time to leave well. That is, not running away from problems, having others get used to the idea + time to say goodbye and making good decisions about boring stuff like insurance, housing, banking rather than just winging it. (Although there will still be a lot of that!) I’ve officially given notice to work and I have a schedule so it’s time to press ‘go’. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
Like most, I can take a bit of disruption (actually probably a lot). I can usually cope quite fine when my Uber driver forgets to end the ride and I need to remedy the overcharge. Or the late fee email notification from Telstra when I have a receipt from paying 2 weeks earlier. Or even the extra ‘housemate’ taking up residence in my house. Combine those things, no dramas. But then an unexpected delivery truck of anxiety, frustration and sheer anger pulled up and dumped it in my lap on Friday 4pm. And then I woke up to the news of the tragic death of a guy from home to make me stop and put things into perspective. Cue complete ignorance of my ‘don’t drink to feel better, drink to feel even better’ proverb, a few nights of broken sleep and total impatience ensued. At work I lacked motivation and struggled to concentrate. It was time to do something. Last night I texted my manager. My request was not unexpected and swiftly granted. I am thankful I work in a supportive environment where I can be honest. I give 110% at work. I don’t have performance issues (unless it’s over-performance?). I have taken 5 days of sick leave in 2 years – 4 for my wisdom teeth extraction. I take annual leave regularly. I consider my mental wellness to be good and stable. But following recent events I needed a day to stop, reset and recharge in order to give at that same level again. Why am I being so transparent? Beyond Blue recently found 1 in 5 Australian workers took time off last year because of mental health issues, although the reported reason for the leave is considerably underreported. Where workplaces and management were supportive of mental health, self-reported absentee-ism halved. That is – employees took less time off because of the positive perceptions of mental health and physical safety and no surprise, reported higher respect from colleagues and increased productivity. Unless Jesus returns sooner, I anticipate I’ll work until about my mid 60s, putting me at about 10-15% through my career. And when I look around at people in similar stages of their careers, across many industries, I see exhaustion. I see a pathway to burnout. I hear of 7am starts and 10pm finishes. Being ‘busy’ is worn as badge of honour. I aspire to a career of nurturing people and seeing people be constructive members of society. I’ll be working until close to 2050 and I hope in that time Australia sees a dramatic decrease in the current 3 million adults with depression and anxiety. Gen Y’s are regularly tormented for silver platter syndrome, so please I welcome your thrown stones. I accept many gone before me have worked incredibly hard in awful conditions. But we’re now living in 2017 when this can be changed. A time when mental illness should not be stigmatised.  Managers need to model responsible mental health. Employees should not fear showing weakness or falsify a physical illness instead. We have the opportunity to reshape mental wellness in the workplace and self-care overall. With haste, I sent off a pretty pointed email on Friday night. Amongst other things, and after some consideration, I pleaded with my organisation to not deliver bad news on a Friday again. Most organisations have no idea of the other concerns of their employees. (Unless you’re my colleagues and you have a pretty good idea because *arm up high* classic verbal processor and chronic over-sharer right here.) Sending an employee home into the weekend devastated could end in tragedy. For example, redundancies are best done on a Tuesday and if done on a Friday should be considered sheer negligence. (Correction: Sorry folks for leading you astray, I was not made redundant! Just using that as the extreme example). However back to today. What did this mental health day entail? A sleep in, baking, an hour stretching (leg day yesterday) over episodes of Utopia and then a few hours in the sun exploring a new area of Brisbane on my new set of wheels. All things that I enjoy. All things that enabled me to de-stress and reset – literally, thanks endorphins. And then because I think it’s the best treatment, I spent time reflecting and praying. I also went to listen to a podcast on Romans 3 from a local church but failed (don’t podcast + drive) and ended up with 40mins on a brilliant section of Romans 8. Verses 18 through 30 of which extracting one verse for this post was impossible. Australians are great at the olde ‘sickie’, and to the outsider my day looked exactly like that – an absolute cop out. We can’t abuse the privilege of improved working conditions. I know what gets me back from the brink – sunshine + water + exercise, but perhaps you’re best at home on couch, or chatting to a professional. Either way I felt a little odd explaining to my housemate why I was home early, and then to a weekly group of my church community.  But I know and I know my manager knows that the one lost day of my productivity will pay dividends to my current projects thanks to today’s rejuvenation. Don’t be ashamed. Ask for a day, or if it’s beyond that, talk about it and find a solution. And if a recruitment agent calls you wondering if you’re interested in a role during the mental health day, laugh – it’s good for the soul. Not even kidding, if I wasn’t stopped already the coincidence of it may have knocked me off my bike. Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
You’ve been living under a rock, smoking a spliff or just ignorant of the news this week if you haven’t heard about or seen NSW’s new ‘Stoner Sloths’ campaign. If you haven’t, here’s a quick catch up: Just saw the #StonerSloth ads. Not sure where NSW Gov’s ad guys found Chewbaccas siblings, but those videos are… Quite something. — Mike Baird (@mikebairdMP) December 19, 2015 I’ve been assured no sloths were harmed in the making of those #StonerSloth ads. — Mike Baird (@mikebairdMP) December 19, 2015 Yes, there were many other anti-campaigns the public mulla could have been used for and, yes, they’re absolutely ridiculous ads to watch, but high five to ‘Stoner Sloths’. Not because I think it was 100% awesome, but it makes me reflect on what makes a good campaign. 1. It wasn’t batpoo boring Public money is spent on a host of public awareness campaigns. Anything from domestic violence, anti-smoking, ice, drunk driving, seat belts, underage drinking, speeding, texting while driving, obesity. But the majority of these campaigns suck. How many can you recall? From the top of mind: the pinky finger speeding campaign the fat man walking along the tape measure obesity campaign ‘Plan B’ discouraging drunk driving the young boy grabbing his dad a beer from the fridge on repeat, and in uni, I did an analysis of the ‘Swap it, don’t stop it’ that caricatured obese Australians as balloon creatures. I can recall these because I’m either the target audience or they’re memorable for being stupid. For these  few, there have been countless others. They’re boring – like half the advertising campaigns we’re subject to. It’s mediocre marketing at best. But here’s the thing about ‘Stoner Sloths’: it managed to capture the hearts/Facebook feeds/TV screens/online news platforms of Australians. It’s a ‘noisy’ world out there, so much so I spend my days trying to work out how to ‘cut through’ and persuade you all to holiday in Queensland rather than [insert overseas tropical island here]. The concept, Stoner Sloths, did exactly that. It was so ridiculous and unusual that it captured the attention of an otherwise disinterested audience. We can all spot a public awareness campaign. They’re dull. They’re usually so straight down the line we end up looking at tar being poured into lungs or a tree wrapped around the pole. ‘Stoner Sloths’ has brought the recreational marijuana use to the fore. 2. Its reach stretched the public coin further than the Stoner Sloths’ pocket claw Marketing 101: There are 3 kinds of media: paid, earned and owned (there’s actually now a fourth thanks to the blog world: partnered). Paid involves $$, earned is additional coverage usually led by public relations and owned is usually your website, social media channels etc. Stoner Sloths earned a heck of a lot of earned media in what many draw on the old adage ‘all media is good media’. A dollar figure can be found (using AVE – advertising value equivalent, an outdated formula some media academics are still debating) and no doubt the media agency who’s behind the comms strategy will claim as ‘bonus’ media. Aside from commercial $$ figures, its reach (the amount of people who have seen it) and its recall (average punter/target audience’s ability to remember the ad unprompted (like my list of public awareness campaigns above) or prompted) will now be very high. But the question everyone’s asking, does it resonate? 3. The campaign captured the truth about maryjane and sloths Marketing 101: At the beginning of any campaign, a brief is written and received by the party responsible for coming up with the idea. (FYI – some of the biggest creative agencies are on the government’s panel) I imagine the brief was as simple as ‘Create campaign to discourage marijuana use in adolescents’ (although it’s government so it was probably 50 pages long). The next step is to understand the target audience, why they need/don’t need the product/service/cause and develop an idea that will resonate. ‘Stoner Sloths’ did a great job in acting on the insight that an individual experiencing the psychoactive and physiological effects of consuming cannabis is very similar to that of a sober sloth. Or according to the campaign, you are so boring/useless on weed you become worse than a sloth and/or worse than you would be sober. And it seems, they applied it literally – to the offense of all the sloths out there! Now I’m going to make a few assumptions, and this could be to the credit of the creative agency (hoping a journo applies for a freedom of information) or fuel dried grass for my ongoing agency-client fire. Here’s two more insights that add to the success or epic fail of ‘Stoner Sloths’: Sloths are amazing. There is a lot of love for the humble sloth. Kristen Bell and YouTube is proof of that. It’s a loss they didn’t work in a baby sloth! I think the people who made #stonersloth vastly underestimate the public’s hero-worship of sloths. — Madeleine Baud (@HeyBaudelaire) December 19, 2015 Sloths look remarkably like the Starwars character Chewbacca. The campaign was officially launched in the week of Starwars… But I’m not naïve, so it’s probably coincidence. But, perhaps not? 4. The campaign actually thought about the target audience A lot of the commentary that has come out this week critiqued the campaign ‘went viral’ before the ads even made it to TV! But, *again assumption* I doubt it was ever destined for television. TV is super expensive. You need a 6 or 7 figure budget to be able to afford effective TV ad placements. 30 seconds in a primetime metro TV show can cost anywhere from $10 – 60k depending on the program/audience. And that’s just one. You need to air hundreds to get anything close to the intended reach target. Not to mention it’s a series of videos…oh and kids these days aren’t watching TV…they’re illegally downloading or streaming or just watching YouTube videos. ‘Stoner Sloth’ is built on a web platform. It’s on tumblr where apparently the kids are hanging out. It’s built in a way the videos can be shared. There are gifs. There’s a Facebook page where ‘Stoner Sloth’ is now commenting back to the hundred commenting on the videos – videos with 200-300K views. But ready for it, the video posts are from 3 weeks ago. The campaign actually launched in early December…when their target audience were finishing school and spend more of their days online. But we only heard about this week…because the NSW Government and St Vincent’s Drug and Alcohol Service released a media release more broadly. Now I could critique their digital strategy and I can already find some huge holes in it, but I’m still early in my career and not about to start pointing the finger while I make my own (gastro) gaffs. But the point is, thinking about the audience is key. Here are two brilliant awareness campaigns that thought about the audience: 5. It’s not perfect One day I hope one of my campaigns will earn me and my team a Cannes Lion. I’m working for someone who managed it by 30. Even if you have little interest/understanding of marketing, hopefully the above demonstrates it’s far from easy to nail a brief, come up with an awesome idea, produce it and then place it in front of the people who you want to see it…and them actually doing what you want them to do in the numbers that you deem it successful. There’s no gold nugget. Even the best of ideas and campaigns have room to improve. ‘Stoner Sloths’ is exactly the same. Thanks to Gruen Transfer, we’re all marketing experts. And we all know the failing of ‘Stoner Sloth’ because it’s been picked to pieces this week. One of my favourite/frustrating moments of marketing is the evaluation phase. I love to hate stats but it’s good to reflect what made something work well or completely flop. In our briefing process we have a ‘learnings’ section where we bring the recommendations from previous campaigns. No doubt, there will be a lot from ‘Stoner Sloths’…let’s just hope they work out we love sloths. It’s all about the video series now (bonus marketing treat), so I’m all for a Speedy Sloth or perhaps an ad demonstrating what it’s like to text and drive. I know my texting ability while driving is probably equal to that of a poor sloth. Advertising is about stirring the pot, and no doubt we’ve seen a shake up this week. 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Yesterday, during my last hour on the clock for Sydney Uni, I put my time to good use and wrote a bit of a farewell tune for my team. It was a surreal day saying goodbye to a bunch of people I’ve spent the better part of two years with. There were days of utter frustration but on the whole they were days of laughter. What a team we all were!     All, The time has come to say: Bye Bye Bye Step 1: Load this up: Step 2: Sing this with all the passion in the world   (Hey, Hey) Bye, Bye, Bye Bye, Bye… Bye, Bye… Oh, Oh.. I’m doin’ this today, You’re probably gonna be alright. I know this was a fright Hey baby come on, I loved you (all) endlessly, When we were all a team. But now it’s time to leave and move on all alone I know that it’s time to go explore. It ain’t no lie I might have quite a heartsore Baby, bye, bye, bye… Bye Bye Do wanna say all the best too (I’m) just another player in the marketing crew You may miss me but please don’t cry, Baby, bye, bye, bye… Bye Bye Don’t really wanna make up stuff, I just wanna tell you that you’re all tough. It might sound, ah, normal, But now I hope I don’t cry, Baby, bye, bye, bye (Oh, Oh) (I’ll) Just hit y’all with the truth, Now, you’re all creative, smart and true. So keep up the big vision, Baby come on. We live for that purple tree, And now I really come to see, The impact we make through the changes we’ve undergone. I know that it’ll take much more It ain’t no lie, We wanna see this see place soar Baby, bye, bye, bye… Bye Bye Do wanna say all the best for you (I’m) just another player in the marketing crew You may miss me but please don’t cry, Baby Bye, bye, bye… Bye Bye I just wanna tell you that you’re all tough. It might sound, ah, normal, But now I hope I don’t cry, Baby, bye, bye, bye I’m moving on I know for sure I do wanna stay in touch and be an ambassador. Bye Bye I’m checkin’ out I’m signin’ off Do wanna leave with this as my last mischief. Do wanna say all the best for you and say a big ‘adiew!’ So join me all for a good wine! Bye, bye, bye… It’s been a blast, you’re all fantastic and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you all. I know I’ll take all the things I’ve learnt from our time together wherever my career may go! Thank you. Shout out to the original crew below, plus Kate, Megs, Chad and Miranda who joined us along the ride!   The original crew minus @stresslessjessie (+ @katiesz12) What a blast the past 2 years have been! Thank you!! A photo posted by Melanie Pennington (@_melaniepennington) on Sep 11, 2015 at 4:15am PDT Care to share?Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)
There are some things in life that no matter how often you do them, they never gets easier. For example, cutting an onion. You might work out the best way to do it, ie a very sharp knife, but even then there’s a 90% chance a weird watery substance will leak from my eyes every.single.time. Only yesterday my friend said ‘No, I won’t cut onions.’ If a task doesn’t get any easier,  we avoid it. Today I had to do another such task, resign. I’ve now resigned from four jobs and each time it’s awful. It doesn’t get any easier. I barely slept last night, I was jittery until the meeting I scheduled with my boss and I rehearsed the conversation more times than I care to say. I also planned for every scenario including the one where my boss said yelled totally unreasonable comments.  Now my boss is the most lovely woman and would never say such a thing, but doing something terrifying makes you think crazy things. I knew how she’d respond – and she did as I suspected – but still it was awful. I will happily talk (read: make a fool of myself) in front of a crowd or star in a video going out to thousands, but disappoint someone I respect. Fear. But unfortunately resigning is an inevitable task when you accept a new job. And there will be disappointment. Today I disappointed my boss, manager, immediate team, and soon my network of stakeholders. I respect each of them and I’ve built great relationships working for the university. To announce I was leaving them hurt. It hurt as I saw their tears well in their eyes, as they congratulated me with a deep sadness on their face, as they swore in shock and walked out, as they made the jovial remark about not needing to remember my name anymore. It’s fair to say they were not expecting the news. I know my fear and anxiety comes from withdrawing from a commitment – something I hold as a top priority. If I make a commitment to someone, something or some team, I follow it through. Resigning is me saying I no longer uphold that commitment. I’m disappointed in myself, yet still excited about the next adventure. I sharing all of this? We all have to withdraw from commitments at different stages of life, but it’s worth noting now it’s always hard. By biggest tips? Be real, be honest and google ‘how to resign.’ Great advice there. What’s the next adventure? I’m moving to Brisbane, baby!