Here’s what happened on Thursday, October 19.
Decoding 2023: What Aussies Are Searching And Asking
By Tess Connery
Google Search is a barometer for what the world is talking about, and in this session WPP’s Rose Herceg and Google’s Mel Silva got to the bottom of everything Australia has been searching. From “What is my IP?” to “How to cook rice”, there were two major themes emerging from almost every list: AI and sport.
The top ten list of Australian search terms overall from January to September 2023 were:
“I cannot believe how women’s football has galvanised our nation,” said Herceg, looking at the list. “$26 million bucks was what the rights were sold for, and the next time around, it will probably be close to half a billion. It’s incredible for sport everywhere, for women everywhere.
“It’s an extraordinary example of what can happen when a nation gets behind a team.”
From Charity To Change: The Future Of Fundraising In Australia
By Alisha Buaya
Iona Macgregor, chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi, led an insightful discussion that explored why charities were facing unprecedented challenges in raising money and how marketing can make a difference.
She led the panel discussion with Bo Percival, UNICEF senior adviser, innovation (ventures), Nikki Anstis, head of advocacy and engagement for Workplace Giving Australia and Joe Heath, head of strategy, Saatchi & Saatchi Australia.
The panellists talked about how to inspire creativity and participation that can help shape not only the future of fundraising but of the nation itself.
Macgregor referred to a talk by Dan Pallotta in which he explains that because of Western Capitalism, “we equate morality with frugality.”
“It’s really holding things back when it comes to fundraising and charity,” she noted.
Heath said that people should not be afraid to show off their charitable acts when it comes to fundraising as it can prove to be a good influence on other people.
“That social validation is important heightens the high and makes the incentive for me to do it again. By sharing and spreading the act, it’s the social proof that society needs to say, ‘I’m going to do the same thing, I’m going to follow suit’ and all that encourages this culture of giving.
“It’s why social media has been, good or bad for the sector, is good to help spread your acts of giving really foster called for giving.
“I’d love to take back the virtue signal and turn it into a positive, I think we should all virtue signal, it shouldn’t be a negative concept. I’m all for embracing the feel-good factor of giving,” Heath added.
Nicole Kidman & Per Saari in Conversation – Spotlight on Blossom Films
By Jasper Baumann
Darling Harbour Theatre was a full house for Aussie icon Nicole Kidman along with her producing partner Per Saari, moderated by Kidman’s close childhood friend, Peter Overton.
Having recently produced and released the Emmy award-winning Big Little Lies together as well as producing Lulu Wang’s new Prime Video series Expats, the conversation explored how their production company Blossom Films has since their inception, passionately championed and granted a spotlight on lesser-known, diverse and interesting filmmakers.
Due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, the conversation wasn’t allowed to go into specifics of Kidman’s roles in the past or future, but instead the duo discussed what draws them to projects, what they look for in creative partners and their future slate of upcoming projects, one of which is an adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s The Last Anniversary.
She revealed the project, which will be streaming on Binge and FOXTEL, will begin filming on November 13th and all the characters will have Aussie accents.
“An Australian project with Australian accents for the world,” she said, which was followed by applause from the theatre.
She also revealed that the late executive director of television at Foxtel, Brian Walsh had a big hand in getting the project off the ground, but unfortunately passed away before he could see it come to fruition.
“Being able to continue his legacy and magic is something I’m so proud of. Brian, we love and miss you and I know you are watching over us at all times, especially when we begin this project,” she said.
50th Anniversary of Hip Hop ft Chance The Rapper
By Jasper Baumann
It was Deja Vu at the Darling Harbour Theatre with another close full house to see Rolling Stone AU editor Poppy Reid sit down with rapper and philanthropist, Chance The Rapper.
The pair discussed his career and what he has done to get to the position he’s in now, from humble beginnings growing up in Chicago to being discovered by artist Childish Gambino at funnily enough, SXSW Texas over 10 years ago.
It’s clear that all of Chance’s personal experiences influence his art, as he discussed how growing up in the segregated parts of Chicago allows him to challenge systemic racism and injustice through his music. It also led him to found his charity SocialWorks.
He says SocialWorks was birthed out of the need for advocacy in Chicago, revealing that Chicago is one of the most geographically segregated cities in the world, especially based on size.
SocialWorks works with youth in schools in the south and west side of Chicago, where it is a predominantly black and Hispanic population. They also create after-school programs, summer camps and work closely with the homeless population, or as the charity calls it, their ‘transient’ population, to provide basic living needs.
“We’ve raised tens of millions of dollars for the Chicago public school system, raised millions of dollars for mental health initiatives and it’s one of those organisations that’s really hands-on, and that’s also because it’s something that I started with my close friends, most I’ve known since childhood. They are really the hands and feet of the organization,” he said.
The Future of Journalism, Publishing and Truth in the Age of AI
By Jasper Baumann
A topic relevant to all journalists and news consumers alike, the use of AI in journalism ultimately comes down to the boundaries between ‘real’ and ‘fake’, and they are blurring thanks to our new world of generative content.
Speaking on the panel about this issue were Outbrain Co-CEO, Yaron Galai, chief technology officer, data and digital at News Corp Australia, Julian Delany and Professor Mary-Anne Williams, an expert in AI and digital transformation.
The panel focused on challenges but also opportunities presented by generative content and debated on how accountability with consumers will be navigated if the use of AI becomes the norm in newsrooms.
Delany revealed that he thinks the use of AI in journalism will be an evolution as opposed to a revolution.
“There’s been an evolution of journalism for close to a century in different ways, but I think this is no different. I think AI is a tool at this moment, it sounds a bit blunt, but it’s a tool that will refine and get better over time,” he said.
However, Williams held a completely different stance, revealing that generative AI is ultimately a technology that humans still don’t understand.
“Generative AI is smarter than the average human, and that means it could write a better story than the average journalist,” she said.
“In the future, it’s going to be about how fast can you write, how fast can you serve all your millions and millions of customers. AI is just better, cheaper and faster, we all need to become super users no matter what profession you are in. The question is how long will it take.
“I’m of the belief that we will be replaced by someone who can use AI, and use it effectively.”
American Express X Universal Music House
By Tess Connery
On Broadway, Barney’s Church has been transformed into American Express X Universal Music House, holding the BRING Artist X Brand Summit on Thursday.
With neon lights, a breezy courtyard, and enough vinyl records to keep any collector happy, the House brings both tunes and informative panels.
Speaking about working with brands at the summit, Oli Leimbach of Lime Cordiale said that “There are definitely bands that refuse to work with brands, because they think they’ll sell out. But when the intentions are right, and the partnership feels good, then it’s cool. And who doesn’t want the support to go overseas?”
By Tess Connery
Having taken over The Lansdown Hotel, Spotify House has something for every music lover.
The House is decked out with a live music stage and a list of musicians from all genres taking to it – Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers headlined on Thursday.
On the same level is a selfie wall and a dedicated place to check out the Spotify DJ, if you haven’t already been using the feature on your account.
Up on the rooftop, a silent disco means that punters can switch between having a chat with their mates and dancing along with ease. For those who have worked up an appetite, the ground floor also has snacks galore in the internal convenience store.
The Courtyard Presented By Rolling Stone
By Tess Connery
Tucked away behind the main entrance of The Powerhouse Museum – next to the WPP House entrance – is The Courtyard Presented By Rolling Stone. With a stage set up, a food truck, drinks, and good vibes, the Courtyard provides SXSW Sydney punters with a place to catch some of the best acts the country has to offer.
With a secret headliner each night, Wednesday was announced to be fronted by Teenage Dads – a four-piece from the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Bringing the tempo up, and providing a major sing along moment with a cover of Video Killed The Radio Star, Teenage Dads had the crowd enthralled.
Despite the warm night and stage lights, they also kept on pink balaclavas throughout the entire performance, as a reference to the fact that they were the secret headliners.