Agencies create ‘hard times’ ads to promote industry charity Tabs

A 60-year-old advertisng benevolent society is on a mission to raise awareness - and funds

Awareness-raising ad for the charity TABS, created for the advertising industry’s benevolent society by the agency Publicis.

Awareness-raising ad for the charity TABS, created for the advertising industry’s benevolent society by the agency Publicis.


“Anyone in advertising can fall on hard times,” the copy reads, below the image of a forlorn gorilla.

You don’t have to work in advertising to be reminded of Cadbury’s drumming ape, now apparently reduced to busking for coins on a drumkit comprising two purple buckets.

The Publicis-created ad for Tabs, the Irish advertising industry’s benevolent society, is just the latest of 10 “creative responses” from 10 different agencies to a call by Tabs to help it raise awareness of the registered charity and generate funds for it.

“We are there to give a helping hand,” says Gerry Coleman, chairman of the 60-year-old organisation for the last two years. The society gives people in advertising confidential financial support in times of difficulty, such as ill-health, unemployment, the loss of a spouse or personal problems such as addiction.

During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Tabs was very well known within Irish advertising but, since then, industry has become more transient, according to Coleman, with fewer people seeing it as a life-long career. However, as financial difficulties can afflict everyone, young and old, he decided it was important to try to resurrect its profile.

“Unless the industry gets behind it, both by involvement and financially, the work it does in the long term will be impossible,” he says.

The advertising agencies – McCannBlue, Rothco, Boys and Girls, Havas Worldwide, Ogilvy, Irish International, Chemistry, DDFH&B, Owens DBB and Publicis – agreed last year to contribute to the campaign by creating awareness-raising ads for Tabs.

Since last summer, the 10 full-page ads created have been running in rotation each month in the trade titles Irish Marketing Journal and, with the space donated by their respective publishers, John McGee and Michael Cullen. Another of the responses, by Rothco, adopted the form of a satirical recruitment ad from a world where nothing bad ever happens and employees are essentially infallible robots.

“The ideal candidate should have complete immunity to all illness and disease, either physical or mental. They should not have any living family or relatives who could become ill too,” it read.

“They should not be susceptible to any form of substance addiction, not have any issues of a financial nature, either now or at any point in the future, and should have no cause whatsoever to be unable to fulfil their duties from now until the day they retire, either in this or any other role in the industry.”

More information on the work of Tabs can be found at