Despite the fact I have been back in the UK for nearly 4 years now, I still keep in regular touch with all manner of news from down under: general news, sporting news, celebrity news, popular culture news….

But every so often a piece of Aussie news finds its way onto my radar which strikes a particular chord and reminds me vividly of some aspect of the time I spent there.

One such item was the 2012 demise of The Campaign Palace – the iconic Aussie ad agency where I spent several happy and eventful years working and where I got to know so many wonderful people.

Another piece of news surfaced this week which again transported me back to my days at The Palace – the widely-anticipated announcement of the closure of Cleo magazine.

To the uninitiated, Cleo magazine is just another example of a general interest magazine aimed at young women that failed to survive the digital revolution and has now been consigned to the media dustbin of history. But somehow Cleo was different.

For many years its star shone brightly and it managed to cover all the usual magazine fare, but with a uniquely sexy, sassy, provocative tone of voice.

It was bold, it was controversial and it sold in large numbers.

It was edited by a stream of high profile and brilliant women including Lisa Wilkinson, Maggie AldersonMia Freedman and Wendy Squires to name but a few who sprung instantly to mind ….there were many more over the years.

It  even inspired the production of an acclaimed ABC TV Mini-series called Paper Giants, all about the launch of the magazine under the editorship of Ita Buttrose and bankrolled by Kerry Packer.

So why am I writing about it? Well, during my time at the aforementioned Campaign Palace, I had the privilege of managing Cleo’s advertising account for several years… and quite an eye-opener the whole experience was too.

Our brief, from the editor was invariably to take a topic from the upcoming month’s issue and then produce a TV Commercial so irreverent that it would become complained about and possibly taken off air within a matter of days. Which happened quite often.

But not before it generated huge impact for a minuscule production budget, got people talking and flew off the newsstands.

A browse through the YouTube archives reminded me of just how far some of those ads went, promoting topics such as eligible bachelors, erotic novels, gigolos and penis size. Notice a theme here?

Nowadays, we seem to live in a society where it seems people are just waiting to be offended about something and I can’t help wondering how those ads would fare in 2016.

But for now, whilst lamenting Cleo’s perhaps inevitable closure, I’ll just thank my lucky stars that I got to play a tiny part in the advertising history of such a classic Aussie brand.

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