Our history defines us.

Written by

Tom Ootes


February 3, 2015

At age eighteen, there were two motivations to go to Teachers College, a move to a bigger city and a girl to boy ratio of 10 to one.

It was brilliant. Forget HECS fees; we were paid to study. It wasn’t much but back then $2 bought 3 pints of pretty average beer and a packet of Winnie Reds.

My Mum says that I dressed like I lived under a bridge. But I surfed, played guitar and so had a few trappings of success. I also drove a 1961 Vanguard. It was solid, reliable but very uncool cool and it wasn’t until I bought the obligatory Volkswagen that life truly began. I’d arrived and had everything I needed for acceptance and connection with my peers.

Most importantly, we had a view of the world, a sense of our future. And we shouted about it. We were pure of heart but open to influence. While we railed against everything and demanded to be treated as individuals, we were all conformists, one big tribe. We looked the same, dressed the same, drove the same cars and had a common attitude. We were anti everything, standing for something but never quite sure what it was. But it was amazingly good fun, well intentioned and I’m convinced we did affect change. Even my Dad was ultimately convinced that the Vietnam War was a futile tragedy that needed to stop.

And the Volkswagen, as lovable as it was, was only cool for a moment. Actually, it was bloody dangerous. With just a modest amount of pressure from a little back seat action, the seat would collapse, the springs making contact where the car’s battery was conveniently stored. That would then raise enough spark to start the back seat smoking and burning and, well, the clichés are endless.

That aside, it didn’t take long to discover that girls preferred a bit of comfort. They seemed more interested if we didn’t smell like old socks, didn’t drink till we threw up and drove something without pyrotechnics.

So what about this business? Thankfully we’ve moved past the digital upstart with a funny haircut predicting the death of the advertising industry, at least I hope so. Most now accept that great thinking and great ideas will always rise above technology. Comments like ‘industry in crisis’ or ‘if you don’t change you’ll die’ were never logical and have rightfully disappeared.

At Black Sheep, we have always relished any opportunity to ‘hold hands’ with consumers but lately we have deliberately broadened our experience and the results have been brilliant. Over the next few weeks we will be talking about our successes and the great work our clients have been doing.

So while other agencies are busy merging and reinventing themselves, we will be quietly but effectively helping South Australian businesses to be the very best they can be. After all, it’s what sheep that stand out have to do.