Boys and Girls off to Cannes Lions festival

Advertising agency part of Irish industry contingent on French ‘reconnaissance’

Boys and Girls is one of the Irish advertising agencies off to the Cannes Lions festival for the first time this year, as "a kind of reconnaissance", says Pat Stephenson, partner and client service director at the company, which counts Three and Dulux among its clients.

The industry, through the Institute of Advertising Practitioners of Ireland, is on a mission to increase Irish representation at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (to give it its full title), which takes place this year from June 18th to 25th.

“Everyone, to a man and woman, says that in order to get to grips with it, you need to get a feeling for the festival and understand the workings of it. This is our first year dipping our toe in the water,” he says.

Of the agency’s own chances of picking up some kudos by winning an award, “to be honest we just don’t know”.


One campaign submitted for entry that he would “love to do well” is the “The Sound of Sixteen” campaign to mark the centenary of Irish radio on behalf of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland and RTÉ.

Boys and Girls created an 80-second radio transmission which reimagined the sound of the Easter Rising's gun battles and punctuated it with the morse code message written by James Connolly and transmitted by Marconi operator David Burke at 5.30pm on April 25th, 1916.

One of Boys and Girls' bigger clients is Denis O'Brien's telecoms group Digicel, for which it has just launched a new Olympics-themed campaign featuring Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt – a continuation of Digicel's long-running association with the sprinter.

“Working with someone like Usain Bolt is brilliant for a small company like ourselves,” says Stephenson. But you don’t have to be big fish with a big budget to compete, he adds.

“You can produce something left field and daring. I’d love for events like this to confirm that we can hit that kind of benchmark.”

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

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