My first blog post of 2011, and I have a feeling this will be a good one (the year and not the post). We are a couple of years into recession now and I’m thinking that people have come to terms with the reality that our economic problems aren’t going to be short term. We have mourned the Celtic Tiger, and I think a good majority are slowly realising its time to start living again.

MTV Sticky talk about the ‘Art of chilling’ and how it’s become en vogue to stay in, create a ‘night out’ with your friends on the couch, embrace the art of companionship with your nearest and dearest. We hear a lot about cocooning from our ID research and trend reports. The art of chilling is very recession friendly! The nationwide trend of girls (and more recently guys) getting together with drinks and nibbles to watch the X Factor on a Saturday night was massive in 2010.

But now that another season of X Factor is over, what can we unite over on a weekend night that will be rehashed on a Monday as a memorable highlight of the weekend….

….Jean Butlers appearance on the The Late Late Show?? (Yes, I saw it)

I think it’s time to start going out again.

  • Experimented with cooking and increased my repertoire of dishes in the kitchen. TICK
  • Perfected my Mojito making skills. TICK
  • Embraced old skool board games (scrabble being a favourite) over a few glasses of wine. TICK
  • Partook in a friendly version of Come Dine with Me among friends. TICK
  • Themed movie nights. TICK

All these activities are great for the wine retailers, MnS €10 meal deals, popular spirit brands and Scrabble (who recently launched Scrabble as Gaeilge, an Irish version of the board game off the back of a spike in sales in Ireland).

But I’m all out of ‘art of chilling’ inspiration for now…(feel free to add suggestions in the comment box below).

The only thing for it is to start going out again: Take advantage of the amazing early bird deals out there and get the luas home!

Embrace the uniqueness of Irish Pubs before they die out altogether.

Two gems: Fenton’s in Glen of Imaal Wicklow, the Blue Light in the Dublin mountains.

Let’s make 2011 the year we started going out again….even if we have to do it with a recessionistas twist.



New Year, New Partner?

January 14, 2011

As soon as the Christmas over indulgence is over, I expect the onslaught of New Year’s resolutions ads.  So, on St. Stephens’ day, I’m prepared to be encouraged to give up cigarettes (not applicable), eat healthier (applicable) and get active with various exercise options (applicable).  But one I wasn’t expecting was to see the New Year as a chance to address my love life (pending nuptials, definitely not applicable).  It’s the first year that I’ve noticed such a high volume of online dating agency activity straight after the festivities.  At the risk of insult, is Christmas really that horrible single?  I guess 12 o’clock on New Year’s Eve does separate the couples from the single, but only for all of 10 seconds.  Or are they trying to ensure that you have someone in time for Valentine’s day?  Maybe they have a shared risk arrangement with Hallmark and Interflora etc. to boost their sales on the most made up, unnecessary and pointless day of the year?  Whatever the reason, I found it an amusing addition to my TV viewing over the Christmas period.  If any singletons have any insights, please feel free to share!


I’ve been thinking about inspiration of late, inspired myself by the following paragraph that Harry Eyres recently wrote:

‘Artists, and others, are reluctant nowadays to talk about inspiration. It sounds highfalutin and vague, like some mysterious essence which floats above the earth. But inspiration in its deepest sense, far from being vague or abstract, is very intimate, physical and personal. There is nothing more intimate, physical and personal than breathing, or breathing in, which is the literal meaning of inspiration. An inspiring place is one that lets you breathe.’

There are some obvious places and platforms for inspiration. The world of is a favoured destination. We frequently refer to the brand that is Jamie Oliver and his TED talk is rightly filed under the heading of inspiring. As is Matt Ridley’s piece on ‘When ideas have sex’ – definitely worth a watch over a lunchtime sandwich.

At OMD we start our week with our Ignition 5, where Vanessa and co inspire us with some cool things they’ve seen from around the world. This week’s post, shared on this blog, includes washing powder with in-built GPS tracking – an idea that could certainly be ‘borrowed with pride’ in other categories.

I think Harry is right when he refers to the personal nature of inspiration but paradoxically we in the communications business try and create that intimate relationship on a mass scale. This is probably easier to achieve than it sounds. I had the great pleasure of seeing Leonard Cohen play at Lissadell House recently watching the sun set behind Benbulben listening to his ‘gift of a golden voice’. A personal moment for me, sure, but one I shared with 10,000 others. Brands can behave in the same way and at an obvious level the development of social communities as part of marketing programmes and brand experiences is a sign of this. One of our favourites here is the Irish Blood Transfusion Service donor community on facebook.

A few of us are reading Paul Arden’s book ‘It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.’ He finishes with a few quotes which can be inspiring in themselves. A little scary perhaps as when Grand Prix driver Mario Andretti states ‘If everything seems under control you’re not going fast enough’!

If all else fails, maybe we should follow the inspirational words of Dr Scholl: ‘Early to bed. Early to rise. Work like hell and advertise.’


Every day, we are faced with an overwhelming number of decisions to make.  We can’t possibly devote attention to every single one of them.

Most people have a few categories, which they are especially involved in. Some care a lot about the phone they buy, but couldn’t care less about the food in their fridge. Others are really involved in choosing clothes but when it comes to the car they drive, have little interest.

For categories we feel personally invested in, we make our decisions as maximisers. We find out as much information as possible and carefully weigh up each option to ensure that we make the best possible decision. In other categories, categories we don’t care as much about, we are satisficers.  It’s not worth our time to examine every angle. In these cases, good is good enough.

This is where Brands come in. We rely on Brands as time saving heuristics. Brands offer us a rule of thumb – they may not guarantee us the absolute best solution every time, but they deliver enough of the time, for us to comfortably rely on them. And we can apply our surplus cognitive energy to the stuff we actually care about.

So for example, I know if I’m buying a TV, that I can expect certain product standards from Sony, without having to do a load of homework around picture quality and refresh rates.

These brands didn’t build up this valuable collateral overnight however. They consistently delivered high quality products, invested in their brand and earned this positive reputation over time.

The beauty of this investment however, is that once this brand equity is established, they can then reap the rewards of brand heuristics in decision making.

Which Apple are clearly doing now, as illustrated above, with their iPhone.


As a side note:

The guy who made this video works in Best Buy who weren’t too pleased with him insulting one of their preferred partners Apple, despite the fact that he never mentioned Best Buy in the video. They insisted he remove it and when he wouldn’t, fired him. He reports on his Youtube channel that they have now asked him back – the issue is still ongoing.

This video has over 5 million views on Youtube so far. If I was HTC, I’d very publicly offer him a job!

There is a concept which I term “The Irish College Phenomenon” which was a very common experience amongst my peers at the time.

For the first week of Irish College, everybody vehemently hated it there and everybody wanted to go home. As we moved into week two, we became accustomed to the regime, the food, the bunk beds, though we still constantly complained and we still wanted to go home. By the final week, miraculously, things would start to change. At this stage, the boys and girls had started to integrate at the evening Ceili, most people had made friends and generally everyone was having fun. In fact, we usually left Irish College on an emotional high, to the point that in the weeks afterwards, back in Dublin, we would pine for our Irish college experience and hold “reunions” in McDonalds on Grafton Street, to recapture the good times.

The fact that we had been miserable for the majority of our time there, was completely overpowered by the highs of the last few days. There was a marked difference between what we had actually experienced during those three weeks, and the memory which remained afterwards. This is the difference, according to Daniel Kahnmen (who founded the field of Behavioural Economics), between the experiencing self and the remembering self.

Many of the things we do in our lives are in service of this remembering self. Kahneman gave a fascinating talk on this distinction at the 2010 TED conference which is well worth a watch. We chase exotic holidays, interesting leisure pursuits, a rich and varied lifestyle – not because we actually have higher levels of enjoyment while we are doing these things (in reality, we don’t seem to enjoy them that much more than sitting in front of the TV). But we do remember them more positively, we like the story they create, and they lead us to think back on our lives with more satisfaction.

This insight has pretty powerful marketing implications, especially in terms of brand experiences.

Will what people remember about their experience with your brand or product, be the same as what they actually experienced?

How can we avoid the tricky little pitfalls, which will disproportionately taint a lifetime of good brand behaviour?

And most crucially, what can we do to create a brand experience story, which goes further than the actual product experience had?


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