Marketing our differences: a heady week to be Irish.

May 26, 2011


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.



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