Is Mary Byrne Ireland’s answer to the Chilean Miners?

October 19, 2010



Is Mary Byrne Ireland’s answer to the Chilean miners? These good news stories have certainly captured the public’s imagination over recent weeks, and are welcome distractions in a country badly in need of them. Each story represents triumph in the face of adversity; they’re true underdog stories, the kind we really love. It’s impossible to be cynical about either. Or so I thought.

Mary Byrne’s rise to prominence has now been tainted by the idea that she is being given an unfair advantage because she has the support of Tesco behind her. 

What about an unfair disadvantage? The circumstances of Mary’s life have been such that it has taken her until the age of 50 and a show like The XFactor for her to have the chance to showcase her not inconsiderable talent on a large scale. Other contestants grew up with singing classes and piano lessons and stage schools. That Mary can be accused in essence of cheating because her employer is powerful doesn’t tally with me – it feels more like balancing things out.

Moreover, it might well be argued that Mary will do more for Tesco’s image than Tesco will do for hers. Incidentally, in a very nice piece of work, the first spot in the first ad break of the first live episode of Xfactor this year was a good luck message from Tesco to Mary. Nicely done. But what does support from Tesco really mean for Mary?

For Tesco, the connection with Mary provides something meaningful for them; it’s a fantastic opportunity for them to talk about something other than prices and range – something that has genuine currency with their consumer; the entire public. They get to be the friend of the underdog, the everywoman, to be seen as kind to and respectful of their employees, and in touch with the zeitgeist to boot. All valuable things for them to have the chance to communicate.

Tesco is the winner from the relationship, and well done to them; they saw an opportunity and were open, flexible and proactive enough to take full advantage. I for one am impressed.


2 Responses to “Is Mary Byrne Ireland’s answer to the Chilean Miners?”

  1. theinfluentials said

    And with the budget looming, all the more reason for stories like Mary’s to give hope to Tesco employees and Irish people in general.

  2. Neasa Cunniffe said

    Great post Claire!

    I haven’t been exposed to any of the Tesco/Mary debate over here so fascinating to hear of such a clever placement.

    And too right on the opportunity gap – Mary’s beating the Hollywood odds even getting on the show.

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