Ad agency Rothco increases staff by 20

Local messaging not always straightforward for global brands, says creative director

Dublin advertising company Rothco, the lead creative agency internationally for taxi app Hailo, restaurant reservations app OpenTable and Tiger Beer, has added 20 staff over the past six months, bringing its total headcount to 120.

Working on local versions of international campaigns can throw up some interesting cultural differences, says its head of creative Alan Kelly.

When Heineken developed a worldwide campaign called "the Odyssey" based on the premise that everybody is "legendary" at something, Rothco felt some alterations were necessary for the Irish market. The problem was the campaign invited non-actors to demonstrate their "unique skills", but in Ireland "it's not really the done thing to show off", Kelly notes. "It's seen as peacocking."

So for its Heineken Stage Fright campaign it told participants they would be filmed performing their talent while alone in a room with a single camera, before revealing to them that there was a whooping audience present on the other side of the curtain. “It was a fright, hence the name stage fright,” he says. “Sometimes you just have to adapt for the local market.”


Using the tagline "being choosy just got easy", Rothco recently launched the UK campaign for OpenTable, a San Francisco company that offers a restaurant discovery, research and booking service via its app. The business, which was acquired by Priceline Group for $2.6 billion in June, is likely to launch in Ireland eventually.

Meanwhile, as the rollout of Hailo extends beyond big cities to towns across the country, Kelly says the campaign has sought to assure potential customers in rural areas that the service entails the hiring of local drivers rather than putting them out of business. “It is hard sometimes for a global brand to get that local messaging right.”

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics