It’s annual planning time of year. With it comes a mixture of emotions. Excitement, as it is a time of reappraisal and setting in place goals for a collective better future; nervousness, as one hopes that the natural swings and roundabouts of business fortune come out in your favour and that the magic target figure is achievable, if all goes according to plan. Nothing ever does go according to plan, yet most of the time, we manage to blend together our business skills and expertise to navigate the barriers that fall in our way and deliver the required result.

On a personal level, I sense some of my friends beginning to set themselves up for challenges in the year ahead too. I few questions, subtly couched, in “what would you think if?”, or “I wish I could do this”, or “Do you think I’d be any good at this?”.

It comes back to a favourite cliché, that the only constant is change. Both in business and in life, I believe that the concept of creative destruction applies. Creative destruction describes the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionises the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” The analogy works in all aspects life too. For some, it is all too daunting a concept, and they look to the security blanket of the familiar to try their best to defy change of any sort. Others, jump recklessly in with both feet, irrespective of consequences.  These dual human traits spawn whole industries in themselves. Self-help, any sort of improvement programmes, and dare I say, the classic New Year’s resolution of joining the gym could all fall into the category of whether we deny or embrace creative destruction. As with most industries, the success or failure of them revolves around the marketing. Be it highlighting the problem and then, conveniently, providing the solution or simply making people aware that there is another way to live their lives. For the individual or indeed the business to make the decision that is best for them, a period of reflection and appraisal is necessary to make sure we make the best choices to guide us through the next stage of our existence. It can be tough, it can be intellectually challenging but it’s an aspect of business life that means I enjoy this time of year with all the excitement and nervousness that it brings.




Graduate recruitment. What a horror show. I studied marketing in the country’s ‘top’ university for four years, and I came out of there not knowing that my current job exists. I can’t even claim that I had presumed it all happened within a full service advertising agency either; I’m saying that I’m not sure I could swear that I had ever wondered what happened between the Don Draper bit and the ad appearing on TV.

How on earth can that have happened? How is it still happening? I met a class of final year marketing students last year. When talking them through the role of a media agency, it was pretty clear that I was delivering brand, spanking new news.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Career guidance in schools is woefully under-funded. Same at college.  But what about the students? By the end of college, shouldn’t they have sought out this information for themselves?

Why don’t they? They answer is, they know they don’t need to. They know that we, like most industries, hire on potential; personality, record of achievement, proven relevant skills (tough enough with grads) and a fair degree of gut feel.

This all rose to top of mind again today when I saw this video doing the rounds:

This grad is being lauded for having the initiative to put this video together and get it to people who might be able to give him a job. In it he says “If you’re a marketing, a HR manager and you work for a marketing, advertising firm, then I’m interested”. I’m not sure he could have been any less specific. All this tells me is that he thinks that marketing and advertising are the same thing.

This is, of course, hypocritical. I’ve already said that I was just as ignorant myself. But I don’t think we can accept that any longer; with the amount of information available now, grads should be coming to us with a decent understanding of what we do; at least enough of an understanding to have a list of questions as long as their arm.

We work in a bloody brilliant industry; and we’re all vying to make it better, day by day. Graduate applicants should be dying to prove to us why they want to get stuck in.




Just like his beloved grandfather, Avi Reichental is a maker of things. The difference is, now he can use 3D printers to make almost anything, out of almost any material. Reichental tours us through the possibilities of 3D printing, for everything from printed candy to highly custom sneakers.


Art as Advertising

October 8, 2014

I’m of the opinion that art is not just about the piece itself but the people around, experiencing something creative with a group of friends or complete strangers. Visiting theatres, museums, cinemas etc., there are times where I can’t help but notice that I’m not the only one experiencing this and the sense of a shared experience is a lot more memorable.

But digital advertising is less about the group experience, instead it is used to seek out the individual. The digital revolution isn’t limited to digital display and search, TV has suffered as well with box-sets and on-demand services meaning less people sitting down together for traditional “appointment to view” programming, even cinema attendance is in a small but steady decline. Personally, I have to bring someone to a film with me and I insisted on watching the final episode of “Breaking Bad” with friends.

The exceptions are viral social media movements where hundreds of thousands of people engage with one idea, like the Ice Bucket Challenge generating huge amounts of media coverage and charitable donations.

Digital is one of the most useful tools at our disposal but I do think that advertisers have a responsibility to keep the artistry in what we do. And, for me at least, that means bringing a sense of community to our work.

The proliferation of smartphones means the eyes of the public are glued to screens as people wait for friends or public transport. Almost 60% of adults in Ireland own a smartphone. OOH is suffering as people just aren’t paying attention to what’s around them. This is one of the last advertising mediums that is truly public, experienced by consumers as a group and it deserves a little more love from advertisers. In 2013, 11% of reported spend in Ireland went on outdoor, slightly ahead of radio but way behind press & TV.

We have seen some brilliant examples of OOH in Ignition 5, my personal favourite is the “Social Swipe” – a digital 6-sheet where you could swipe your credit to donate to charity and instantly see what your $2 could achieve.

A new campaign has caught my attention, originating in the UK but has “gone big” in the US: “Art Everywhere”, a campaign supported by 5 of the biggest art museums in the US along with the Outdoor Advertising Association (OAA).


The campaign has been dubbed the biggest art exhibition in history. The intention is commandeer public spaces transforming them into public art galleries with the hope that people might look up from their phones for a couple of minutes and prompt some conversation.

The starting point for the campaign was, in fact, digital. An online public vote to select the nation’s favourite 58 pieces of art and voters were encouraged to share their selections on social media.

Then, in AuguArt Hunt - Twitter 1st, fifty thousand sites across America were taken over by the public’s selections for 4 weeks. The campaign genuinely surprised people, encouraging treasure hunts across US cities.

The exhibition gaveArt Hunt - Twitter 2 the OAA an opportunity to demonstrate new technology – an augmented reality app scanned the artwork and delivered information on the work straight to users’ phones. It might seem like a strange move; a campaign designed to get people to look away from their phones driving them back to their devices, but why can’t advertisers engage audiences on their terms? Advertisers are beginning to embrace 2nd screening when it comes to TV, OOH can do the same.

Social media also played a large role in the campaign, the 10 best selfies taken with Art Everywhere were given prizes, a simple but effective way to encourage a Twitter conversation.

To coincide with the campaign, the museums involved organised public talks and generated enough media coverage to get a real conversation going about art, culture and advertising in American society.

Art as great advertising, it’s a nice twist on McLuhan’s declaration.


A good friend of mine works for a top creative agency in London. As graduates, we both went into the advertising industry – she has gone creative and side and I have gone into media. The two of us have always joked about one day becoming power house co-CEO’s of our own business. At the beginning of the summer they landed a new account. My friend came to me and said how excited she was to work with the long-standing media agency of the client. The client made it clear that they had a very strong relationship with their media agency and it was important to them that the creative agency ‘bond’ with media.

Two weeks ago, the same friend rang me quite upset, saying there had been an absolute breakdown in communication between agencies. Immediately, I jumped to the defence of the media agency – ‘Yeah, well, they’re only doing that because you didn’t do this! If it doesn’t go live it’s because of you, not them!’ Why have I just jumped to the defence of people I don’t even know? This conversation set me thinking about the relationship between creative and media agencies. There seems to be a competitive feeling between us. For me, one area that this comes to the fore especially is social. Should social strategy be handled by the creative agency, the media agency or the client? Or, even the dedicated social agency?

In January of this year, Ad Age wrote that 2014 would be the year of agency integration. Recent developments would indicate that this may be the case and that we could be circling back to the 20 years ago, when creative and media planners sat in the same building. Once again we are seeing media agencies hiring creative teams and creative agencies creating media teams. It seems people are set to offer their clients the full package.

On one hand, the argument for integration stands very strong. If we are working together every day, then we will come up with something innovative and exciting for our client easily, either in a boardroom or by the kettle. When we stop scrapping over the brief and end accusations of ‘you didn’t brief the publishers properly,’ ‘yeah, well the creative sucked,’ then the outcome for the client is something brand new.

On the other side, the argument for segregation is just as valid. Too much integration of the creative and media big guys, could dilute the individual specialities within each. We are already seeing an ever growing increase in niche, highly specialised agencies in the areas of search marketing and data or digital performance. For example, here in Omnicom we have seen the launch of Resolution Media – a new arm of the group specialising in auction based online media buying and performance activity. Whilst the development of such agencies are exciting for the industry, they do pose the threat of yet another split, should the big players allow themselves to fall into a trap of group think.

For the Irish market, the key is to find the balance. Within the industry and within agencies themselves, we need to stop placing each other into silos and instead bring everyone to the table and into the discussion. This conversation has been exhausted within agencies and yet for some reason very rarely done effectively. We don’t need to be so cautious about integration. We can collaborate without losing our individual swag. Campaigns are the most effective when everyone does what they do well, and there is a high level of communication between agencies. This year at the ADFX awards, the campaigns that took home the most number of awards such as ‘The Gathering’ or ‘QUIT,’ were the ones with the best integration and collaboration between agencies and clients, but celebrated the individual excellence each had to offer.

My friend and I won’t be ditching our teams to start our own shop just yet. For starters, I seriously doubt either of us have the start-up capital, not to mention our combined mighty 3 years of experience. But it will be interesting to see how the big changes in the global networks over the coming months and years will affect us and other young people just starting out in the industry.

%d bloggers like this: