Jonah Lomu tribute and confetti campaign triumph at ICAD design awards

Chemistry’s work for ‘Irish Examiner’ and Rothco’s ‘Shred of Decency’ win double gold

A tribute to the former All Black rugby player Jonah Lomu that appeared on the front page of the Irish Examiner the day after his death last November has won two gold "Bells" at the annual Institute of Creative Advertising and Design (ICAD) awards.

The graphic, described as "simple but poignant" by New Zealand news website, was devised for the Irish Examiner by the advertising agency Chemistry. It shows a leaf falling from a silver fern placed over a black background.

The image was shared by hundreds of thousands of fans around the world in the 24 hours after it was published.

It was later adopted by friends and family of the late player. Lomu’s young sons Brayley and Dhyreille wore T-shirts featuring the fallen fern image at his funeral, as did the pallbearer and New Zealand Warriers player Manu Vatuvei.


ICAD awarded it gold Bells in the consumer press and earned media categories, while one of the creatives behind the tribute, Chemistry art director Hugh O’Connor, received the Greenhorn award, which is given to new talent.

Rothco's "Shred of Decency" confetti campaign for Dublin stationery shop Daintree Paper had already picked up several awards, including a Cannes Lions bronze in the "crisis communications and issues management" category, before it also took home two gold Bells, in the earned media and "creative for change" categories.

The advertising agency worked with Daintree during the marriage equality referendum to create packets of confetti recycled from “negative and dishonest” literature produced by “a section of the No campaign”.

The leaflets were recycled into “positive” confetti “made from 100 per cent recycled lies” and the proceeds went to Yes Equality, with a “making of” video effectively serving as an ad for the shop. Daintree was under new ownership and wanted to distance itself from the policies of the previous owner.

The campaign has been cited by Rothco copywriter Shane O'Brien as an example of how advertising agencies can "use our power for good".

A record total of seven golds, 26 silvers and 66 bronze Bells were handed out at the awards ceremony in Dublin’s Vicar Street last night. This followed some 700 entries, which was also a record number, comparing to 560 in 2015 and 500 in 2014.

Irish International also received two golds, one for the Road Safety Authority's "Don't Look Back" television ad and another for art direction/ production design for Guinness's television ad, "John Hammond, Intolerant Champion", about a music producer and talent scout with a passion for jazz.

The seventh gold winner was Guns or Knives for Hailo's "Introducing the Heterophobic Taxi Driver" campaign, while the taxi app company won client of the year for "encouraging creative excellence". The agency Boys and Girls won the most awards with 22 Bells, followed by Rothco with 15.

ICAD expressed hope that the increase in entries indicated that the recession has finally loosened its hold on the Irish advertising and design industry and that clients were willing to spend money again.

“It appears that this year may be a golden era for Irish advertising and design in terms of creativity and optimism,” says ICAD managing director Elaine McDevitt. “I have taken to terming it our very own ‘Bell’ époque.”

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

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