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!



X Factor Rules Again

October 7, 2010


Here we go again – another year of X Factor finals. And what a brilliant job the producers have done so far to build up the excitement and publicity surrounding the show. Firstly Cheryl bows out of the auditions early on because of malaria (Tick: pre awareness campaign). Next Chloe Mafia makes it through the auditions in spite of being a prostitute and cocaine addict (Tick: keep momentum going through one of the less exciting parts of the show). Third Gamu Nhengu, who made it through to the judges’ houses, is being deported from the UK for her mother’s immigration breaches (Tick: colossal amount of publicity in the lead up to the first live final).

Last year it was Jedward, this year it’s personal scandals.

And their new strategy is working. Last weekend’s UK viewing figures topped the final episode in 2008.

Just to give you an idea of the continuous growth of the programme in Ireland. From the viewership of the first TV3 show in 2006 to now: Housewife with Kids are up 66%, while the youth 15-34 audience is up 700%

Everyone knows when the X Factor comes back on air. You can’t avoid it. I think if I wasn’t interested I would watch it anyway just so I don’t feel left out of 50% of conversations. It’s unbelievable when you think about the amount of talk it generates.

In an evolving media climate where advertising channels are becoming more and more fragmented, it seems that X Factor is one of the most unifying channels of all.

And who knows what Simon Cowell has up his sleeve next? Bring on Saturday night.


There are two challenges for musicians these days:

 1)      How do I make money? With illegal download websites all the rage, artists are struggling to make any profit off music sales.

 2)      How do I get myself known? This was always an issue but possibly easier to crack than the first problem.

There was much talk of ‘the end of the music industry’ a couple of years ago due to declining year on year album sales and revenues down 10-15% each year from 2002 – 2008. People are hunting for music online, and it’s all too easy to download for free on illegal websites, such as limewire.  Neasa has talked to us before about the new trend of free, and how people expect most things digital to be free, apart from when they get a super premium service which they are willing to pay a small fee for. (And the online newspaper paid for content debate is ongoing, with New York Times due to launch paid content in 2011.)

At the same time, Apple have just announced their ten billionth iTunes download, so perhaps the music industry isn’t in the dire straits it feared it would be. And the public is still demonstrating a thirst for music, new and old. Concerts are selling out, and the number of music festivals is increasing every year – recession or no recession. Vantastival, for example is the new family music festival in County Louth launching  Summer 2010.

So, (given that iTunes is alive and kicking and gigs and music festivals are on the increase), we need to then crack problem one. How? ONLINE! Facebook, twitter, MySpace, blogs, Facebook again etc. And any name and number can be found by the click of a mouse. Easy! Well, time will tell. My current project is the Davy Lewis Band. I’ll let you know how I get on. Check out their music at: And Hot Press review below. We are living in a different era (thank god for online!). 


Topshop Fail

November 7, 2009

topshop jpeg


One of the learnings in our recent Evolution of the Consumer research project, has been the increasing level of justification consumers seem to need these days, to loosen their purse strings.  Rationalising our spending isn’t a new phenomenon. But whereas in the Celtic Tiger years, the fact that it was a Wednesday was reason enough to treat ourselves, now we require something more substantial to alleviate shopping guilt.

So it’s understandable that retailers are trying to devise clever ways to get us spending. I was on the receiving end of a couple of these techniques during the week, one success, one failure. Marks & Spencers have got a range of lunch products for Christmas, in support of Focus Ireland. A percentage of all profits made on these sandwiches goes directly to the charity. There was no price premium for me and I got a lovely feel good factor in buying my lunch that day. I’ll be going back soon.

In contrast, I also received a 20% off viral coupon from Topshop. These viral coupons have been really popular over the last couple of years and they whiz around amongst girls – I sent this one on to all my friends. I love Topshop, 20% is a generous discount and it was all the justification I needed to visit. I made a special effort to print out the coupon and go in, as it was for a limited time period. Instore however, I saw that the 20% discount was plastered all over the shop and was available to everyone. You didn’t need the coupon at all. In fact I didn’t actually have a coupon, I just had a printed out advertisement for a Topshop sale.

I couldn’t help feeling a bit cheated.

Receiving and passing on an exclusive voucher that’s of benefit to all my friends, that’s motivating. Acting as a free advertising medium to publicise a Topshop sale – what’s in it for me? Next time I get a Topshop viral, I won’t be pressing forward.



OMD have just finished putting together a piece of consumer insight called “Evolution of the Consumer” (see plug below*). One of the most interesting findings, was the accelerating influence of the internet, which inadvertantly seeped through into almost every single macro-trend we looked at.

In exploring how Irish people’s lives and lifestyles have evolved over the last 12 months, we found that the numbers who are shopping and swapping, researching and reviewing, watching and downloading, communicating and networking – using the internet – are all on the up. When we asked our participants where they go for information, across a range wide of  purchase categories, the internet came out on top for Food & Nutrition, Mobiles & Electronics, Motors, Entertainment Content and came out as the second most important source for Household products, Groceries, Healthcare, Cosmetics and Fashion.

The internet is still an unknown quantity for many Irish marketers. With so many people now “online”, we know our brands should be there, but we’re not sure how to get there and we’re not sure if we really belong there.  I think that part of the problem is our paradigm.

We are thinking of “the internet” as a medium, in the same way we think about other media channels TV, Radio, Cinema, Print, Outdoor. Whereas in fact, it’s probably much more accurate to think of “the internet” as a parallel virtual world. This parallel world has all the same things as the real world. It has TV – short form clips, long form episodes and films, user generated content. It has Radio – podcasts, audioclips, live music streaming. It has Outdoor – skyscapers, islands and banners. It has Newspapers – editorial content, forums and blogs. It has Word of Mouth which races across neighbourhood fences. It has shops where you can buy things. There are social places to meet up with friends, communication devices to keep in touch with family and pickup bars to find love.

Using internet as a conduit to your customers isn’t just about advertising or sponsorship, the most prevalent models in other media. Online is about search, content, conversations, response, reputation, editorial – and about a million different things which I don’t know yet and haven’t been developed yet. We need to shift the paradigm through which we see, and talk about, online. The internet is not a new medium, it’s a new world.


*Evolution of the Consumer is an Omnicom Media Group consumer insight project which explores what Irish people are currently thinking and doing, and the implications this has for our clients’ brands for 2009/2010. We worked with leading consumer trend forecaster William Higham, to define the key consumer trends going into 2010, based on behaviours which are globally prevalent.  He defined 8 key macro-trends, which we surveyed locally using Snapshots, our online research tool: Cautious Spending, Bye Bye Bling, Smart Shoppers, Temporary Ownership, Cult of Home, Free, Selfish Green, Trust & Transparency.

If you’d like to find out more, or get a copy of the presentation, email

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