I’ve had a short stay in London this week, meeting up with some of our international colleagues. I also managed to catch up with some friends (both former contributors to this blog) who have decided to ply their trade across the Irish Sea.

Whilst I was in London, sharing thoughts on consumer trends and segmentations, buzz marketing and price guarantees, Barack Obama was back home, wooing the nation, as we wanted him to. This on the back of a visit from the Queen that was exquisitely managed and seemed to touch genuine cords beyond carefully executed diplomacy; and a Leinster victory that summed up Barack’s chant of ‘Is feidir linn’. All in all it was quiet a heady week or so to be Irish and as many commentators observed, a welcome respite from depressingly constant depressing headlines, from depressing looking reporters about depressing looking politicians and even more depressing looking bankers.

In the week, which was also marked by the sad passing of Ireland’s true statesman, Garrett Fitzgerald, David Cameron’s contribution to the ever-evolving relationship between our two nations was to state that “I can’t actually think of a time when the British-Irish friendship was so strong and the partnership was a strong as it is now”.

Indeed this sentiment permeated into conversation with my fellow bloggers in a gastro pub near Marble arch on Sunday night. And while we were all positive about the events of the previous week, it was the differences between our nations that exercised us most. London’s superiority in pub grub (and dare we say food in general) was, given our location, an easy topic which led to discussion about the hierarchy of supermarkets on both sides of the pond. The ‘New Londoners’ around the table expressed some surprise about just how different London and Dublin actually are. In many ways I found this reassuring. Rumours of Dublin being just another collection of UK high streets are apparently a little further from the truth than feared. And despite sharing so many cultural and media touch points on the surface, a mere scratch reveals a richness that separates our countries in a myriad of senses. Indeed I believe this was complicit in Cameron’s thoughts.

At a time where one of the many assaults on the Irish advertising industry is the retreat of marketing departments to the UK in a diminishing in the perceived importance of these cultural difference, I was reassured to see both my personal and professional contact during the week acknowledging the subtleties of cultural differences and showing the balance in sharing of approach yet celebrating differences coming to the fore.

In many ways technology makes the world a smaller place. I was pleasantly surprised to see Barack in Dublin being broadcast live on the BBC in London, yes the X-Factor has crossed many political boundaries, and our international gathering nearly seemed to be competing to see who had the most up to date information on ash clouds. There is so much information so readily available that no one can take it all in. So if we were all super computers and all consumed all the information, all the time, and interpreted it all the same way, it wouldn’t just be Dublin marketing departments decamping to London but those of Paris, Madrid and New York too.

So thank you to HM the Queen, to Garret the good, to Barack, to the New Londoners and the cosmopolitan gathering in London, both inside and out of a hotel conference room. It’s been a heady week all right, one that has certainly given me a greater confidence in our ability to collectively share and individually make a difference. You know how Barack puts it.



At a TED conference last year, journalist David McCandless gave a great talk on the power of data visualition. His basic thesis is that proper data visualisation helps us see the patterns and connections that matter in the data, and that designing it well is essential if you want it to make sense, tell a story, and make it easier to eek out the important information.

He presented some lovely examples, my favourite of which was called ‘Mountains out of Molehills’, which showed the relative size of the ‘panics’ caused by international media in the face of potentially threatening (or entirely bogus and non-threatening) issues.

Quite apart from making the data sing, he also works with the idea that absolute figures don’t give you the whole picture and that by providing context, we can make the data more true. This is an issue close to our heart at theinfluentials, and so we thought this talk was worth sharing.

Please comment if you have more examples of great data visualisation, we’re always on the lookout!





Jedward – nil points.

Well, not quite, but a disappointing result all the same. After so much hype, our favourite twins finished 8 out of 25 last Saturday on the Eurovision. Despite being one of the top search terms over the past couple of weeks, Jedward failed to meet expectations. Not only is this disappointing, but also a little surprising. I know I’d give them my vote, why wouldn’t my European counterparts do the same?!


The problem, I feel, lies somewhere in the complicated world of culture. Often, something which goes down a storm in one country just doesn’t quite work in another. This is something of relevance not only for Eurovision acts, but also for marketers. During this year’s SuperBowl, GroupOn ran an ad featuring actor Timothy Hutton explaining that although the culture of Tibet is in trouble, its people can still “whip up an amazing fish curry”. The ad, watched globally, caused outrage, with thousands of complaints relating to its cultural insensitivity issued.

Despite missing out on Saturday’s top spot, however, Jedward helped the Eurovision reach a record number of Irish viewers this weekend. The contest, which ran on RTÉ One from 8:00 – 11:27pm was watched by an average of 1,174,300 – a figure higher than all the previous contests since 1997. Jedward are also currently rising high in download charts not only in Ireland, but also across Europe .  

Perhaps Jedward’s loss lies more in complicated European politics than in cultural differences.

Either that, or people just didn’t get it. Surely not?




To my mind, Eurovision is not a contentious issue, it’s a non-issue.

That said, I have sneaking suspicion that this year, it’s about to be bumped back up the food chain. For me, the most interesting thing about Eurovision is where it sits in the cultural landscape, and how that differs amongst the competing nations.

For us it has become a little bit silly; something that was a big part of the Ireland we used to be. We’re a bit too cool for it now though, a bit too grown up and modern to really like it, apart from in an ironic way, of course. For other nations, it retains a genuine significance, and is a real source of national pride.

But of course, much of our new-found ‘coolness’ is wrapped up in what was, ultimately, a fantasy…and we’ve been taken down a peg or 85 billion in the last couple of years. Alongside the ‘blast from the past’ trends which have re-emerged since the onset of recession, (nostalgia, thrifty cool, cocooning etc etc etc etc), perhaps it’s time for us to get over ourselves and revisit those things that we’ve scoffed at in recent years, but were meaningful to us in our not-too-distant past.


And then, there’s the Jedward effect. Like Eurovision, those boys have somehow set up camp on the line between the ridiculous and the legitimate. I think they might just be the thing that drags Eurovision kicking and screaming back into relevance again in the collective Irish consciousness.

We’ll share the TV viewership figures once they’re available, and compare them to previous years for various audiences. In the meantime, let us know if you think Jedward have a chance:





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