If you think you know what The Glue Society is please tell co-founder, Jonathan Kneebone. He admitted last night at The Glue Society’s 21st birthday that even he still doesn’t know. Unless you describe it as “different”. The whole industry knows that.
By definition (according to the blurb its founders wrote in the backend of its website) it’s “broadcast and experiential entertainment, commercial and print advertising, film direction and design, art exhibitions, live events, installations and sculpture”.
Perhaps that by-line should read, “flair for doing things that are surprising”.
Even The Glue Society’s 21st birthday party showed off the agency’s talent for difference, tweaking the corporate birthday party format to make it feel as though it was the first one you’ve ever been to.
Ensuring that it’s the one you’ll remember most fondly for a very long time.
The celebration began with a save-the-date postcard. Yes, the creative industry’s most avant-garde whatever-it-is delivered its save-the-date in a handwritten postcard by snail mail. It was a sit-down dinner for 125. The Glue Society’s vast studio in Alexandria had been filled for the evening, end to almost-end, with three long refectory tables and a room-sized mystery box (more about that later). “Everyone who has supported us over the years” was there. That’s a massive chunk of the entire industry, barring the twenty or so who were overseas or otherwise unavailable. I’m sure everyone would agree that they got back more than they’ve given over the years.
Revolver/Will O’Rourke, managing director and partner, Michael Ritchie revealed the secret of The Glue Society’s humble beginnings – there was the prediction of brave creativity to come – a commercial by young agency creative, Jonathan Kneebone, so outrageous that the CMO in the client’s head office not only demanded it be pulled immediately, he also sent people over to ensure that its master and all files were destroyed. There was the agency’s first “office”, a desk at Ritchie’s POD Film in a decaying building in Kings Cross (when Kings Cross was Kings Cross!!, Ritchie noted), accessed by first stepping over bodies in varying states of inebriation and consciousness.
Kneebone then took the baton. (Actually it was handed to him. He’d not planned on making a speech), to reveal the secret of The Glue Society’s name. It was a helluva lot better than the ones they rejected, including the acronym of founders, Jonathan Kneebone, Dave Johnson and Gary Freedman, names – which would have meant that the agency was called JFK. The first JFK was assassinated.
Yes, there was a showreel. But it wasn’t this one:
It was a Glue Society special episode of Gogglebox. The agency had painstakingly hunted through dozens of Gogglebox episodes to match Gogglebox commentaries with clips from The Glue Society’s work – hilarious. If The Glue Society hadn’t created and/or directed so many remarkable campaigns in its history you might have called it the company’s most engaging creative idea ever.
Oh yes, the mystery box. That was a set and it was wheeled across the room at the appropriate moment to reveal the raffle prize. Inside was a jet ski that was born in the same year as The Glue Society, 1998. A creative challenge for the winner to try to take it home. It was also the photo moment – triggering a delightfully inventive change from the usual “seen at” who’s who albums in social media.
Special mention for the food. Light years away from rubber chicken. Instead a six-star feast by Three Blue Ducks that could have won a Michelin star.
Happy birthday, The Glue Society. For your wonderfully unpredictable nature. Your creative brilliance. And for being such a huge part of why Australian ad work is world famous.
Here’s a tiny taste:
DISCLAIMER: The cover image is actually from The Glue Society’s work for The Art Gallery of NSW and this video is not OK for watching at work: