Enjoy!

Shane.

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Enjoy,

Aoife.

Enjoy!

Aoife

Enjoy!

Aoife

Enjoy!

Aoife.

Enjoy!
Aoife

Enjoy!
Aoife

Enjoy!
Aoife

Enjoy!
Aoife.

Failure to Communicate

June 18, 2012

I read recently in Campaign about how the British Government have restructured what was the COI (Central Office of Information) into the Government Communication Centre.  It all sounded quite dull actually and seemed to get a qualified acceptance from Ad land that if nothing else “the new system can’t be any worse than the chaos we have at the moment”. This side of the Irish Sea we have our own version of organised chaos I suppose, so on one level we can congratulate ourselves that our approach appears to be no worse than anyone else’s (and in fairness this can be an intricate and complicated space) but like any other system certainly has room for improvement.

What frustrates me as someone who plies his trade in Ad land is the failure of successive governments in embracing the advertising community in trying to solve some of our country’s ills. Most government interaction with the advertising community appears to be at arm’s length, is infused with a lack of understanding (often on both sides) and is largely confined to an exchange of written submissions around the pros and cons of advertising regulation, the most high profile of which, alcohol restrictions, is a case in point. I don’t think you’d find many people in Ireland who argue that we as a nation have a dysfunctional (he said politely) relationship with alcohol. We frequently read about the negative knock on effects be it societal violence, the  impact on the health of our nation and when the two come together the ability of our health service providers to do an already difficult job in the most testing of conditions. Imagine what it would be like trying to do a simple task like typing an e-mail with a drunkard shouting abuse at you, let alone attempting to provide medical assistance. The health debate rages further as my radio tells me this morning that most of us are overweight and alcohol plays a significant role in the reasons why. Then there is the counter argument that alcohol is part of who we are, the fact that we are the land of the ‘Cead mile failte’, that we can have the ‘craic’ and that despite Roy Keane’s aspersions any football tournament in the world is very much the better for the performance of Irish fans, if not necessarily our teams. That’s before we mention the positive impact of sponsorship revenues from the alcohol companies that touch most sporting organisations in the land. The debate can and does rage on, far beyond my own rambling paragraph above.

To me, the knight in shining armour for Ireland and our dysfunctional relationship with alcohol is communication. But not through curtailment and regulation (these have a role, don’t get me wrong, but the impact of regulation only goes so far). It is through engaging the advertising community to do what it does best. Influence long term habitual change. Guess what? This doesn’t happen overnight. This won’t happen by accident. This won’t happen when the responsibility for relaying the message lies with the drinks industry. The government need to get together a crack team of communication experts who can devise a long term strategy (and I mean long term). A strategy that evolves over the next 20 years that helps us as a nation grow up. We’re doing it the hard way at the moment filling the holes that the banks left behind.  Next up should be our relationship with alcohol. If governments looked beyond their own twitter accounts and trying to mimic Barrack online to get re-elected and looked at how they communicate our stance on some social ills, our country would be the better for it. The government and it’s agencies spent around €50 million on advertising last year.  We can all pick holes in the way any sum of money is spent. Guess what? A lot of it was spent really well, led by great marketers within the state sector. Give some of this people a brief and  budget , sit back, enjoy your next pint in the knowledge that our children and grandchildren will enjoy their future relationship with alcohol in a collectively more considered way that we are currently collectively all guilty of.

Tim

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