Sean Cummins AdNews Hall of Fame acceptance speech.
Thank you Adnews, James Yaffa and ladies and gentlemen.
When you pick up an award like the Ad News Hall of Fame you realise very quickly that for such an individual honour, your career was never a solo journey. The people that were involved in my work fit neatly into four categories: Mentors, Collaborators, Partners and Clients. And without a stunning depth of these in my career I could not have been the person who works in advertising today.
The gentleman that just introduced me Jim Kiernan…is a long time family friend who also happened to have an advertising agency in the seventies and eighties called Pope Kiernan and Black. It was the first advertising agency I ever walked into and I remember how amazing it was. A bank of colour - yes colour- TV’s in reception broadcasting the networks of Australia at the time 7, 9 and 10.
I walked through the agency and I saw guys with long hair playing guitars and smoking what I was led to believe were Indonesian cigarettes.
I was taken by the people and Jim was my first mentor and throughout my career has been a touchstone for me. He ignited my passion and was truly the one who taught me advertising. It’s great to have you here Jim.
But your mentors are only as good as your ability to listen and these days there’s a lot of people talking but not many people are listening.
I always pride listened hard when people had a point of view and if it was good enough… it became my point of view.
My other mentors like Mike Dornau, Bruce Stainsby Cesare Leonardi and Rod Curtis have meant the world to me. They gave me the tools I still use every day.
You realise at this stage in your career that your mentor’s DNA runs through you and you become an identikit picture of them… and I hope I represented them well.
Any of the work that is shown here tonight that is attributed to me, should also be attributed to many fantastic creative, strategic,production.and account service people who made these pieces of work happen.
I’ve always been very generous in the attribution of work. I know sometimes my name can dominate, but I’ve always preferred to win as a team than take credit as an individual.
I also realised that when I was a copywriter in a team the majority of my collaborators were women.
Michelle Bloomcamp, Kay Schirrman Sassy Havyatt, Bec Brideson, Samira Ansari…and now latterly Kirsty Muddle and Arwa Mahdawi. The majority of my creative partners I have been women.
There was and probably still is a boys club out there and I recognised it years ago…and i didn’t want a bar of it. The minute you allow yourself to be that guy. Well, you’re that guy.
I am an openly white heterosexual male. And I am glad for tonight’s honour. But I hope we see a woman in the Hall of Fame soon.
Partners in my business have been my greatest joy and my most towering frustration. It is second only to marriage in the level of commitment and therefore the liberties you take with each other. My first partner Michael Collinson spoiled me.
My new partners…many here tonight.. and too many to mention…represent a dream team of the best people I could ever work with.
But Clients are why I do this business. I am an inveterate pleaser. And the joy of thrilling a client with creativity tops anything. Even this award. I do this to have an impact on business and society. And clients are patrons of our work.
I honestly think some people in advertising see clients as the enemy or certainly irritants. Getting in the way of their unfulfilled brilliance.
Clients are the only reason why I do this. They are your benefactors and partners in a world you would never otherwise a chance to see.
I have become expert (or so I think ) in so many industries because of the trust and generosity of clients. I thank them all.
Finally…beyond these 4 groups is my family. Who have been unfailing in their love and support. Michele JJ and Pepa. Thank you. You saw the behind the scenes… and it wasn’t always pretty.
When my daughter heard about this award she rather drily said” Well if there was a Hall of Fame for being a father and husband…you wouldn’t be in it”.
My marriage ended but my respect and thanks for a lifetime of support goes to Michele.
As for the industry…those in leadership roles need to mentor more.
We are an industry that is finding new ways to make ourselves turn into something we are not. We are not tech. We are not data analysts. We are not scientists.
We are advertising people. We need independent thinkers not neophiliacs.
Advertising is great And being in its hall of fame is amazing.