Boutique advertising agency The Public House is open for more business

Emigrant creatives don’t have to ‘compromise’ to return to Dublin, agency says

The Public House’s Catrióna Campbell and Colin Hart outside the advertising agency’s premises near Dublin Castle.

The Public House’s Catrióna Campbell and Colin Hart outside the advertising agency’s premises near Dublin Castle.

 

The Public House is hiring. The independent Irish advertising agency behind Goodfella’s “The Kitch” ad, Jameson International’s campaign for Caskmates and some of Paddy Power’s “mischief-making” is three years old and says it is “on the lookout for people who have lots of ambition” to join the company.

A previous recruitment campaign by the agency “pissed off a large part of Canada”, admits founder and creative director Colin Hart. The “Go Home Irish!” posters placed around Toronto last year listed a site with the address PleaseLeaveCanada.com. It redirected to the agency’s own site and its invitation for Ireland’s emigrant advertising talent with newly enhanced CVs from “global creative powerhouses” to come home and work for the company.

The message – “We’re hiring. You’re homesick. Come Back to Dublin and everyone wins” – was spread by news media that picked up on the local “outrage”, resulting in almost 200 applications, “from everywhere, from Sydney, Dubai, New York”, says Hart. Four people were employed directly as a result of the appeal.

When Irish advertising emigrants think about returning, a typical question they ask themselves is “am I going to have to compromise to come home?”, according to Catrióna Campbell, the Public House’s managing director

“We don’t believe they have to compromise to come home.”

Brain drain

Both Hart and Campbell gained their experience internationally. “We would never tell anyone not to go, that’s where we grew our careers,” says Campbell. But the brain drain doesn’t have to be a permanent one.

Previously known as the Social House, the agency is based at 4 Castle Street in a premises that backs onto Dublin Castle and retains the shopfront for T.H. Barnwell bookmaker and repairer. It is now home to 20 employees of the Public House and Hart’s dog, Pig.

It is a listed building, possibly one of the oldest in Dublin, and even putting in the wifi was not straightforward, explains Hart. “It is a beautiful building with a beautiful overhead.”

Boutique agency

Hart and Campbell want their boutique agency to be able to compete internationally. Their biggest client is Jameson International, for which its work includes several St Patrick’s Day campaigns and a global campaign for the originally limited edition Caskmates (whiskey aged in stout-seasoned oak barrels), using the line “please unspread the word”.

They are also currently working on the “difficult second album” follow-up to the Goodfella’s ad in which a mother tries to persuade her daughter Abby to join her in the kitchen – “the cool kids call it the Kitch”.

It has worked with the takeaway app company Just Eat on some of its social content and the British agency Lucky Generals on Paddy Power stunts such as the bubble-wrapping of one of its Dublin betting shops ahead of the England-Ireland football friendly in 2015. The Baggot Street shop was labelled the “Designated England Supporters’ Betting Shop” ahead of the match.

Last year, a mock-up of Roy Keane as Braveheart for a poster advertising the bookmaker ahead of the Republic of Ireland versus Scotland Euro qualifier resulted in a court settlement between Keane and Paddy Power, after Keane said the company had infringed his image rights. It’s all grist to Paddy Power’s active mill.

Hart says the Public House has “only pitched three or four times” and has got to the stage it’s at through word-of-mouth. Still, its handful of “rejected pitches” were turned into publicity generators of their own, after trade publications AdWeek and AdFreak picked up on a wheeze to “sell” them on eBay.

“Stacks of exposure for something quite ridiculous,” says Hart proudly.