Making an impact on advertising

 

Under the Radar:Anyone who doubts that advertising works probably hasn't talked to Tom Lynskey. The Mayo native and his business partner Niall McGarry attribute the successful launch of their own advertising and graphic design agency, Impact Media, to the fact that they took their own advice and took out an ad.

"We actually promoted ourselves very well," says Lynskey. "We did a full page on the inside cover of the Golden Pages which nearly sank us at the time but, to be honest, it paid off. If I was to say one thing, it is that advertising works."

Lynskey and McGarry, who is also from Mayo, met each other while selling advertising in the Galway Independent newspaper. Within a few months, they realised that a gap clearly existed for an advertising agency to service the business needs of the west of Ireland.

"We were aware of companies putting ads into the newspaper that weren't really structured or weren't designed very well," says Lynskey. A lot of advertising was reactive, he adds, where businesses and retailers responded to what competitors were doing rather than coming up with their own advertising campaigns.

"It was rushed, there was no co-ordination, no strategy behind their marketing campaigns whatsoever," he says.

In 2003, they left the Galway Independent to set up Impact Media. The two men, with the help of a graphic designer, set about shaking up the advertising world west of the Shannon. "Because we were salesmen, we were able to go out and sell the business and then hire the particular graphic designers to design the ads for us," says Lynskey.

Convincing local businesses to deal with an advertising agency rather than going directly to the newspapers was easier than expected.

"We had a blank sheet to work from here in Galway because there was no competition. It wasn't difficult for the simple reason that we could show them the ads they were doing which were invariably designed by the newspapers compared to what we were designing.

"We had a very good graphic designer and when we put the ads side by side, they said yes to ours."

Four years on, Impact Media employs 18 people and is now a full service agency, providing media buying, copywriting, print advertising design, radio and TV advert scripting and production, recruitment advertising, budget management and public relations.

The company's clients include Supermac's, Pat McDonnell Paints, Elverys Sports and Simply Mortgages.

"We also provide a graphic design service, which includes corporate identity packages, brochures, point of sale and packaging," says Lynskey.

Earlier this month, Johnston Press warned of an advertising slump in its Irish regional newspapers, something that does not augur well for a business like Lynskey's, but he says Impact Media has not encountered any evidence of a slowdown.

"We have being growing month on month, I cannot say it has affected us," he says. "We have had meetings with lots of our bigger clients. It hasn't had a major impact on them yet and we would strongly suggest that they look at media like internet, multimedia, e-commerce, various other ways of targeting their customer base.

"The internet is going to be a massive medium going forward for advertising revenues, so we have a full web department to handle all of our clients' needs."

Companies that advertise consistently and imaginatively do better in a downturn than those that cut back, he says.

So rather than battening down the hatches, Impact Media is expanding with plans to go national next year, according to Lynskey.

Former Irish Distillers executive Brendan Buckley has been hired as managing director and the firm is moving to a new 6,500sq ft facility that has been purposely designed to accommodate its expanding business as well as a growing creative team.

"We're entrepreneurs at the end of the day," says Lynskey. "We're here to run the business. We're not afraid to employ expertise. You have to delegate. That's the key to success."

He feels that the west of Ireland outfit can make its presence felt on the eastern seaboard.

"We can do equally as good a job here in the west of Ireland and we have equally as creative a team here. I won't say we will do it at a fraction of the cost, but we will do it more cost-effectively than it is done in Dublin," Lynskey says.

ON THE RECORD

Name:Niall McGarry.

Age:29.

From:Castlebar, Co Mayo.

Background:St Gerald's College , Castlebar; marketing management, Limerick IT.

Family:From a family of five.

Inspired by:My parents, Alan Sugar and Roy Keane.

Most likes to:Play football.

Favourite book:Keano's autobiography.

Favourite TV programme:Dragons' Den.

Name:Tom Lynskey.

Age:29.

From:Kilmaine, Mayo.

Background:B.Comm NUIG,

Family:Married with five-month-old son, Simon.

Inspired by:Family, Theo Pathetis from Dragons' Den, McHale brothers from McHale farm machinery.

Most likes to:Play golf, travel, watch loads of TV!

Favourite book:The Firm.

Favourite film:Braveheart.