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  • Kinsale Sharks advertising awards: watch the winning ads

    September 17, 2012 @ 11:03 am | by Laura Slattery

    The 50th anniversary Kinsale Sharks advertising festival took place this weekend by the banks of the River Bandon, with the event – a boozy get-together where the great, the good and the frantic networkers of the Irish industry rub shoulders with their international counterparts – seeing multiple bronzes, silvers and golds handed out under a starry-roofed marquee. Don’t fall in the river, was the organisers’ top tip.

    The number of delegates was down this year, and with the ceremony switching to a hotel near Innishannon because its regular Kinsale venue was closed for refurbishment, chairman of the judges Trevor Beattie dubbed it “the least Kinsaley Kinsale ever”. The English ad man, who created the infamous “Hello Boys” poster campaign for Wonderbra as well as various FCUK campaigns for fashion chain French Connection, kicked the ceremony off by paying mocking tribute to the Irish Daily Star for publishing topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge. “To make us feel at home, they put a picture of Kate’s tits in the paper,” he said. “Fifty years of Kinsale, and we’re still getting excited over a pair of girl’s tits.”

    Well, some of us may be, Trevor. So what unambiguously legal entertainments were there to get excited about?

    First up, Parisian agency BETC won several golds for The Bear, an ad for the French television network Canal+. It’s got humour, flair and craft. Just imagine if ad breaks were full of such greatness, instead of the lame, gender-stereotype crap and “is that supposed to be funny” confusion that really pads them out. Indeed, the festival’s creative speaker, ad / film veteran Tony Kaye, made a half-hearted Kanye West-style intervention at the end of the three-hour ceremony to suggest this ad should have been more richly honoured. I’m sure the Bear himself would agree.

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    Beattie gave the chairman’s prize to Leo Burnett Milan for The Beauty of a Second, a campaign for luxury goods group Montblanc that invited filmmakers (both amateur and professional) to send one-second videos to a very short film contest, the best of which were selected by Wim Wenders. The whole endeavour, an ad for Montblanc’s watch range, was “the most outstanding piece of work this year”, according to Beattie. Personally, I find the concept faux-poignant rather than genuinely moving, but if you’re fan of “oh look how amazing it is to be human” larks, here’s a sample.

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    Now, back to the laughs. AMV BBDO was given the title agency of the year by the Sharks jury and this ad for Doritos alone makes them deserving winners. Called Dip Desperado, it has an “interactive game” pack shot at the end, but don’t let any latent skepticism about social media engagement put you off. About 1m 5s in is my favourite bit.

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    I also like the storytelling in this ad for Martini a lot – much better than I like Martinis, in fact. It’s called Luck is an Attitude, and it won gold for editing for London production house Gorgeous.

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    This next piece of work, titled Mrs Bogg, won a gold for scriptwriting for McCann Birmingham. It’s a classic industry in-joke of an ad, not one you will have seen on TV, but it’s worth watching for its hilarious satire of a particular genre of television advertising that most viewers have now become inured to, but nevertheless continues to be used in campaigns seeking to modify behaviour.

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    And now, a downer. This ad is emotionally wrenching indeed – created by Ogilvy & Mather in Dublin, it’s a powerful demonstration of how children absorb abuse and believe all that they are told, made for the ISPCC. This also won gold for direction for the agency Blinder, presumably in tribute to getting such an amazing performance from so young an actress.

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    Meteor’s Your Social Forecast, stings for its sponsorship of TV3 Weather, counted among the many golds won by Publicis Dublin, which won more awards than any other Irish agency and by some distance. Its Fintan McCloud creation is more LOL than WTF, to be fair.

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    Dublin-based William Armstrong of Antidote Films won the award for most promising new director for his work on the test commercial Poem – a car advert without an actual car. Filmed in Connemara and Dublin, the Irish landscape is the star.

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    Finally, the London agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) won the Kinsale Sharks Grand Prix for Three Little Pigs, a spot for the Guardian that ran on Channel 4 in February and March and had the ambitious aim of redefining journalism by subjecting a fairytale to an idealistic view of the modern news cycle. Like some of the ads above, it had already been honoured at the prestigious Cannes Lions awards in June. Indeed, arguably this ad is more successful as a creative entity than the concept it advertises – the Twitter hashtag #opennews referenced in the ad has been a little infrequent of late, and you hear much less from the Guardian these days about their open journalism experiment.

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    And that’s it. There are too many winners to mention them all, but a full 16-page pdf of winners across television, cinema, radio, print, online and, er, integrated is available on It just falls to note that AMV BBDO also won gold for best use of social media in a campaign for Masterfoods Snickers called You’re Not You When You’re Hungry, in which various celebrities were paid to tweet about unexpected subjects. The campaign hit the headlines when glamour model @MissKatiePrice chimed with the popular mood by tweeting: “OMG!! Eurozone debt problems can only be properly solved by true fiscal union!!! #comeonguys”.

    Seriously. Come on guys.

  • Purple is over as a colour and it’s all the fault of Ed Miliband, Heathrow and Yahoo!

    May 5, 2012 @ 10:00 am | by Laura Slattery

    Watching political leaders give game soundbites to news reporters covering the UK elections has left me sure of one thing: the colour purple is so finished.* Purple used to be cool. It was the colour of Cadbury; of Silk Cut; of clothes worn outside wine-and-navy-and-grey shaded school hours. It is also the colour of royalty and, according to playground humour (ho, ho, ho), the colour of sexual frustration.

    I used to love it. Now I think it’s an away strip of a colour.** Purple is the choice of politicians desperately trying to avoid the naff fate of wearing their party colours. So Nick Clegg, when he’s sick of wearing an obvious yellow tie, wears a deep purple one; Ed Miliband and David Cameron regularly contrive to ditch their respective party shades of red and blue for an apolitical hue that’s halfway between the two.

    The only things that rival silky political ties for purple-ness are corporate liveries, lobbies and logos. Eircom and VHI Healthcare both go for the purple-and-orange combo. Purple is also the colour of Yahoo! – former CEO Jerry Yang claimed on resigning his post that he would “always bleed purple” – and it’s the colour of the older signage at fraying-at-the-seams Heathrow. So that’s Eircom (in examinership), VHI (not exactly in the black, financially), Yahoo! (famous for not being Google) and Heathrow (there’s plenty of time to ponder its colour schemes when you’re stuck in its “unacceptable” border queues).

    Purple is also the colour of Hallmark, of Greenstar skips, of TV3, of Premier Inn and of try-hard E4. It was the colour of the sofas on ITV’s breakfast show Daybreak for the first few months of its flopped launch. And it’s set to be the colour of the “Boris Pods” that will be dotted around London during the Olympics to help confused tourists and ticketholders find their way to the toilets. It’s over-exposed.

    Purple is still the colour of Cadbury, which has even trademarked one shade of it, Pantone 2865c to be precise. This was much to the chagrin of Nestlé, which went to court so it could keep using a similar colour in its Quality Street assortment – you know, on the wrapper of the one everyone loves even though it’s got a hazelnut in it. But iconic confectionery is the exception that proves the rule. As long as corporate marketing departments and the over-thinking image consultants who dress politicians continue to embrace it, the colour purple will be worth about as much in fashion terms as it is in snooker.

    * Yes, this is a side issue, but, I think you’ll find, a vitally important one. ** Magenta is still okay.

  • They said no good would come of Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury

    March 12, 2012 @ 4:00 pm | by Laura Slattery
    Philadelphia and Cadbury…. they go together like chocolate and cheese

    And they were right. Here it is, the union between Kraft’s Philadelphia cream cheese brand and Cadbury milk chocolate, essentially Kraft’s attempt to take on the reigning king of spreads, Nutella. Good luck with that. Toddlers and Nutella are not to be kept apart, and not even the mighty Kraft and the comic talents of Jennifer Saunders, who is fronting its reverse-psychology marketing campaign, can alter that. Surely.

    Chocolate cheesecake lovers will quibble, but they will be wrong. The combination of hazelnut and chocolate is so obviously superior to a cream cheese / milk chocolate mash-up, that I suspect Pietro Ferrero will be turning in his grave at Kraft’s latest product launch. Ferrero, according to the company’s website, “founded” what later became known as Nutella in a backroom of a pastry shop in Alba, Northern Italy, in 1944. It was, surprisingly, an austerity foodstuff. War had made chocolate, among other luxury items, expensive and difficult to obtain, so Ferrero used locally grown hazelnuts to make alternative spreads.  ”Nutella, spread on bread, has become an essential element to the breakfast ritual,” the company claims, not unreasonably. (I prefer it rolled in the folds of pancakes myself.)

    Ferrero, which also makes Tic Tacs, Kinder products and (naturally) Ferrero Rocher, is a privately held company that does okay for itself, though it lost one of its joint chief executives (Pietro Ferrero, grandson of the founder) when he died cycling while working on a corporate social responsibility initiative last year. The acquisition-shy family firm did ponder making a counter-offer for Cadbury, but stepped back, wary of the debt, leaving it to be devoured by Kraft and its spread-ambitions. The first of the ads is genuinely funny thanks to Saunders, but I can see plenty of shoppers simply agreeing with her ad persona’s ”Choccy Philly / don’t be silly” line and failing, like her, to be converted against the odds. And only a fool would bet against the wartime genius that is Nutella.

  • Analogue age set to expire amid economic gloom

    May 16, 2011 @ 6:43 pm | by Laura Slattery

    Ireland’s urban-rural screen divide has been neatly highlighted in a report by Behaviour & Attitudes on TV viewing methods in Ireland - my own preferred method being the time-honoured 4-3-3 of three cushions, three remotes and four minutes for the DVD player to reach its main menu.

    Living in set-top box land, it’s been easy to dismiss the import of Ireland’s belated switchover to digital terrestrial television (DTT) and just assume everyone in Ireland is by now familiar with such eclectic digital delights as, say, BBC Four quiz Only Connect, on which contestants regularly announce “we’ll have the Twisted Flax” in reference to Egyptian hieroglyphics, and ITV2’s The Only Way is Essex, where if a twisted flax ever did come up, it would probably mean something else entirely.

    However, the survey of 1,100 households, commissioned by the Department of Communications, extrapolates that a significant 16 per cent of “TV homes” – an estimated 254,000 households – rely solely on terrestrial television, while some 10 per cent have access to Irish terrestrial channels only. Two thirds of terrestrial TV homes are located in rural areas, with just 1 per cent of Dublin homes having access only to Irish terrestrial channels, compared to 28 per cent of “Munster Rural” homes.

    Behaviour & Attitudes also finds that heads of households relying on Irish terrestrial services are more likely than average to be in receipt of the Household Benefit Payment Scheme (which includes a free TV licence), are more likely to be working in manual occupations and are more likely to be retired.

    Given the high numbers of households involved, it’s clear that the Department and its Minister, Pat Rabbitte, still have a lot of work to do on the information side of DTT’s troubled advent. Presumably the survey result that only a third of Irish terrestrial TV homes were aware of the pending analogue switch-off is already a little out of date – it was conducted last November, while the marketing campaign for Saorview, RTÉ’s free-to-air DTT service, only began in March.

    However, the socio-economics of Ireland’s analogue demographic will be potentially costly for the Department to negotiate. Analogue-dependent viewers upgrading to Saorview will need to purchase a Saorview-compatible television or a set-top box. The latter are currently available for a not-so-free €100, according to the Department, though prices are predicted to fall by the analogue switch-off date at the end of 2012.

    One Behaviour & Attitudes survey finding that didn’t make the Department’s press release is that 77 per cent of TV homes said they would “definitely not” be buying a new television set within the next six months. “All in all, it seems likely that between no more than 3 and 5 per cent of all Irish TV households will invest in a new TV set over the next six months or so, regardless of reception type,” the research firm concludes.

    “With roughly a third of all TV householders (regardless of reception type) admitting that they are struggling from a financial perspective, it is clear from all of the survey data that many TV homes would find it difficult to invest any significant amount of money in new TV equipment as part of the analogue switch-off process,” it warns. Well, that’s the economy for you.

    The researchers go on to stress: “It is important to note that very low numbers of TV households (including analogue households) are planning to purchase a new TV set in the immediate future, suggesting that the adoption of new technology alone cannot be relied upon as a means of empowering households with new TV reception systems.” Ouch.

    Rabbitte has indicated that “practical measures to assist in the switchover” are imminent. Leaflet drops will not, by themselves, be enough. A subvention scheme for analogue households will have to be implemented in the next 19 months – otherwise the screens of thousands of older people living in sparsely populated areas will simply fade to black, while ratings for the 2013 Rose of Tralee contest and a raft of other RTÉ jewels will plunge.

  • Painting the town Celebration Red

    April 22, 2011 @ 12:55 pm | by Laura Slattery

    The Let's Colour Project reaches St Mary's Pre School, Pearse St, Dublin. Photo: Dulux.

    As someone who tends to have at least one skirting board in the house permanently lined with masking tape, the Easter bank holiday offers an exciting four-day opportunity for DIY-related procrastination, of which writing this post is just one small part. It’s a good thing I don’t live in Main Street, Moneygall, Co Offaly, where Dulux is providing free paint to houses and businesses ahead of President Obama’s visit, but is not actually doing the painting. Dulux could drop off as many tins of Pacific Breeze or Intense Truffle as it liked – if it was my doorstep, poor Barack would still end up averting his eyes from the faded, peeling remnants of whichever vomitous shade I had thought was a good idea five years earlier.

    That’s not to say that I think Dulux’s global Let’s Colour Project, launched across Ireland this week, is anything less than a genius idea. As a marketing campaign, it comes in a shade of pure brilliance.

    Here’s a summary: A Dulux-commissioned Ipsos MRBI poll finds that 72 per cent of Irish people believe the mood of the nation to be low, or very low, while 80 per cent agree that Irish communities are badly in need of an uplift. Step forward Dulux with colour charts, free paint and the endorsements of Volunteer Ireland and psychologist/broadcaster David Coleman. A “Dulux paint reservoir” has been formed to cater for the rejuvenation needs of up to 200 community projects – schools, sports clubs, parish halls, etc – who apply via The successful applications will be “transformed by colour”, with “neglected” public spaces brought “back to life”. It’s community spirit, with a bottle of white spirit on standby. 

    Cue quotes from Coleman about post-Tiger social involvement, the soothing potential of pale blue and the energizing power of yellow. Here’s where the on-the-page gloss of the campaign may be dulled by the real-life negotiations of taste though, as yellow, of course, is not just yellow. It’s Sunflower Symphony, it’s Tuscan Treasure, it’s, er, Banana Dream. One man’s modish “gallery” grey is another man’s drab prison; one woman’s joyous orange is another’s tangerine outrage. Remember Sarah Beeny’s Channel 4 show Streets Ahead? It was paintpads at dawn.

    Regardless of how genuinely transformative a few days of roller action are for the community projects who take up the offer, it seems pretty clear that the campaign will work out very nicely for Dulux itself. It’s an easy, eye-catching reminder of what its products do – other paints are available, apparently. As for my own desire for wall metamorphosis, there’s a tin of Pale Peacock in my hallway ready to be prised open. I’m still hoping to find an saviour for my latest patchy ceiling quandary and resurrect the spare room in time for Easter.

  • The boomer bulge and the business of ageing

    March 9, 2011 @ 4:54 pm | by Laura Slattery

    Please tick the box: Are you 35 to 39? 40-44? 45-49? 50-64? Or 65-plus? It’s an oddity of surveys and application forms that the categories often imply your tastes undergo distinguishable shifts with every event birthday, but only up until you hit 50 – or 65, if you’re lucky – and then you’re suddenly lumped into a homogeneous consumer mass.

    Apart from giving rise to cringeworthy stereotypes, for a vast number of product and service providers, this blunt approach to the over 50s is commercially crazy. However, as David Sinclair from the UK’s International Longevity Centre told the Business of Ageing conference in Dublin today, there are a dispiriting number of companies who don’t think the so-called “grey market” has anything to do with them at all.

    Despite the fact that disposable household income in the UK peaks in the 50-64 age bracket, the response from retailers is often “that’s not our demographic”, Sinclair noted. “I think there is a huge amount of denial here on the part of business,” he said, as evidenced by the fact that the dominant advertised image of consumption is often a high-heeled woman in her 30s, beaming as she swings her shopping bags.

    Incidentally, the Business of Ageing conference packs contained flyers for (among others) Flora Pro-Activ, RTÉ Lyric FM and an Emergency Response GPS bracelet – three companies who are clearly not in denial about their core demographic.

    In September, Kilkenny will host Greystock, which the organisers say will be Ireland’s first ever festival for the 50-plus generation. But market segmentation research on the varying interests and needs of the over 50s has yet to be conducted in depth in Ireland. As far as the UK goes, Dick Stroud, author of The 50-Plus Market, places less than 30 per cent of over 50s in what he calls the “charmed generation”. This is a high socio-economic group that tends to be in their late 60s and early 70s and in good health. But that doesn’t mean that people in their 50s now – who are more likely to be part of the “anxious generation” – will become happier in a decade.

    “This charmed group will move through and eventually disappear and the next group that comes through probably won’t have anything like the same wealth,” says Stroud. Similarly, George Magnus, senior economic adviser at UBS International Investment Bank, compared marketers’ attempts to capture the “grey market”  to a snake eating its prey: “It’s a bulge, and now it’s a bulge that’s moving into retirement.”

    The first baby boomers – the generation born in the post-war population spike – reach the traditional retirement age of 65 in 2011. It’s the generation that won’t take too kindly to what’s perceived as ageism at companies such as Interflora, which last year attracted criticism for bringing out a “happy birthday” range of balloon bouquets that stopped at 60. “Someone designed the product and didn’t think,” sighed Sinclair. Soon, they won’t be able to afford not to.

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