These events have more in common than one might think. Not alone the obvious fact that they both begin in the next few days, they are also the biggest events within their respective fields.A Cannes Lions is the most prestigious award a person within the creative communications industry can hope to win, while the FIFA World Cup is the biggest tournament any aspiring footballer could dream of winning.

So who are the big winners going to be this year?

Cannes Lions

On a weekly basis we admire best in class ideas from around the world in our Ignition 5 sessions and often we see the cream of this crop rise to the top when the Cannes Lions come around. Some of the favorites to pick up golds are Guinness for their “Made of More” campaign featuring “The Sapeurs”, British Airways real time digital outdoor #lookup campaign and Volvo Trucks “The Epic Split ft. Jean-Claude Van Damme”.

In terms of creative, these are some of my favorites but only time will tell if these campaigns get the recognition I believe they deserve.

World Cup

Brazil – The bookies’ favorite has to get a serious nod; they have home advantage as well as a cracking team. Interestingly, Goldman Sachs have created a statistical analysis which suggests the home side are favorites for a reason.

As usual with large sporting events, brands have come in their droves to get a slice of the World Cup audience. Nike have two new World Cup specials, and there are brilliant new ads from Adidas and Beats by Dre. A collection of the best ads can be found here.

Here at OMD, we have been working on our World Cup impact reports. We are monitoring each country’s interaction with the event and creating global reports on how brands and consumers are interacting, viewing and engaging with the World Cup across every market. If anyone is interested in getting their hands on this report be sure to get in touch and we can share it with you.

Best of luck to all the teams and agencies in both competitions!



Twitter TV Ratings

November 6, 2013

nielsen-twitter-logos-300pxThere are so many “Hot Topic’s” in media at the moment it seems we are spoiled to be living during an age of such rapid change and evolution. Programmatic Buying, 2nd Screening and how Netflix is changing the media landscape are just some of the many topics crossing peoples lips.

I found myself being engrossed in a story I heard almost 3 weeks ago. Rumblings about Nielsen and Twitter partnering up to create what they call Twitter TV Ratings very quickly became a hot topic. The idea of the Twitter TV ratings is not the same as your typical TV rating (how many people watched a TV show). The twitter TV Rating looks at how much activity the particular TV show creates on Twitter. Both these metrics show very different results for different demographics. An obvious assumption to make is that programmes which are popular with a younger demographic will score higher in terms of Twitter TV Ratings as this audience are more engaged with the platform. However the results even with a younger more engaged audience are very programme dependent. Some programmes lend themselves nicely to 2nd screening and twitter conversations while others don’t. Here is the Top 5 US programs from 30/09 until 06/10.

Top 5 US Twitter TV Ratings 30/09 - 6/10/2013

Top 5 US Twitter TV Ratings 30/09 – 6/10/2013

Are there any major surprises? Not so much. American political thriller TV drama, the most talked about artist of the moment, the equivalent of our Late Late Show and The Voice. These shows are typically going to arouse in a traditional sense, conversation about their outcomes. Traditionally people would have sat around together and watched these programmes. Nowadays, the communal friendly aspect to watching TV has been to a certain extent lost. I feel the exciting thing Twitter is doing is restoring an aspect of social conversation to the act of watching your favourite TV programmes. It’s giving viewers a platform to share their opinion and enjoy other peoples in “real time”. Even if none of your close friends are watching the latest episode of House of Cards you can find a community of people online who are.

From a media perspective Advertisers are going to gain a wealth of knowledge about their target audience. People’s interactions with TV programmes are going to filter down audiences into minute targeted groups. The kind of groups traditional media have been lacking in comparison to digital media. It’s obviously going to take some time for the technology and implementation of such measures to reach Ireland. I just know I’m personally excited about the prospect of RTE selling advertising in the newest series of whatever Love/Hate type programming is running with a big Twitter TV Rating sitting alongside.

Donnacha – Account Exec OMD Ireland

Print and be Damned

August 8, 2013

A new four-part series on the Irish newspaper industry begins on TV3 at 9pm tonight, hosted by Donal MacIntyre Print and be Damned is described as ‘an alternative way at looking at modern history’. MacIntyre who himself began his career as a reporter with the Irish Press looks at the vital role that journalists have played in uncovering the truth and the hidden history of Irish newspapers through the ages.

Each of the four episodes cover a distinct theme, tonight’s focuses on Ireland’s greatest scoops and scandals including the story that Bishop Casey fathered a child and the now infamous Kerry Babies story with Nell McCafferty. The following three episodes will include the likes of Louis Walsh talking about his recent damages payout, the real life dangers faced by Ireland’s crime journalists and the struggle of newspapers to stay relevant in a digital age.

The series creator and Executive Producer for Sideline Productions Billy McGrath added – “This is the third factual documentary project we have produced for BAI and TV3 and we share their view that Print and Be Damned will be a huge success plus educating a young TV audience on the importance and heritage of the Irish print industry.

– Sorcha

Talking about the demise of The X Factor is becoming a seasonal tradition. We’re in season 9 now and the show is no longer the phenomenon it was in its youth. The decline has been steady over recent years, but this year, it’s positively haemorrhaging audience. The show is now caught up in weekly ratings comparison with the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. This week ‘Strictly’ emerged victorious for the fourth week in a row.

The X Factor Decline

And the trend is the same here in Ireland. Year on year on year, The X Factor is in decline. But what’s particularly interesting this year is not only the overall trend, but the fact that the audience is slipping away week by week. This is an altogether new worry for the show’s producers; in previous years the show could be relied upon to gather audience as it neared its finale.

It’s hard to put a finger on what it is about this year that is causing so much grief for The X Factor. The hype around the show is such that it’s difficult to tell if a ratings drop is caused by a reaction to a specific event, or if it was happening anyway. Last  week, Ella Henderson, a ‘favourite’ was voted off the show. What followed (at least in the media outlets where attention is paid to such things) can only be described as public outcry. A ratings decline followed. Did one cause the other? Who knows? Shock evictions have happened throughout the show’s history; the shock has worn off and the ratings haven’t plummeted.

So what’s going wrong this year? Are viewers just bored? 2012 has had its crooner, its belter, something for the cool kids, some rock and roll and two boybands. There should be something there for everyone. And regardless, the show’s writers probably have more to do with how much we like or dislike the contestants than they do themselves. But this year, the show seems to lack that which made it into to the TV giant it has been. It’s lacked…well…The X Factor.

Is it the panel? It might just be. Arguably, the panel is more packed with A list talent than ever before, but they’re all so nice to each other, it’s hard to remember where the show started out. Where is the tension, the intrigue, the infighting?  Sharon Osbourne was no Nicole Sherzinger, but at least she threw glasses of water of Louis Walsh’s head and accused him of taking her husband’s drugs.

Simon Cowell

And then, there’s the Simon factor. Gary does his best to channel Mr. Nasty, but his attempts at world-weary viciousness just don’t measure up. According to the Daily Mail, Simon Cowell is considering coming back to the UK for next year. If he comes back, is it possible to recover the audience that’s been lost? I wonder. If it’s to thrive again, The X Factor needs to stop playing it safe and get out of the middle of the road.


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.


An important landmark in the transition from childhood into adulthood is the point when you realize that not everything that is claimed in pop music lyrics is actually true. The same principle as ‘paper never refusing ink’ applies to lyrics.  This thought struck me as I casually browsed through the JNLR survey on Irish radio listenership.  Contrary to what Trevor Horn and his Buggles pal had claimed in 1979 it transpires that video did not actually kill the radio star.  Rather radio is in rude health and it is the music video that has faced turbulent times over the last three decades.  

Once the bedrock of the cash juggernaut that was music television through the 1980’s and 90’s the music video increasingly became marginalised.  After that golden age the previously enormous production budgets began to shrink and videos became a rarity on the very TV channels that were originally built to house them.  Towards the turn of the millennium viewers had become more discerning.  Pop-culture and the next big thing in music was no longer something dictated by DJ’s, or latterly VJ’s, who pushed the message out to hungry ears.  The audiences would no longer sit through hours of dross music (like their parents who listened under the duvets through the static to Radio Luxembourg) in the hope that something they liked might come up.

The internet had arrived and changed everything.  The push from an all powerful hit-maker was now not the only show in town.  The internet gave people the power to find what they liked rather than sit and be told.  Faced with this fragmentation the video retreated, banished from television, unloved and underfunded.

The music video was in the doldrums, holding out for a hero.  When the hero did arrive in the second half of the last decade it was in the form of broadband and its eager sidekick YouTube.  If music television didn’t want the format any more then suddenly the internet did and the music video entered its second golden age.  This time the content was not programmed by hipsters in MTV but by anyone with an internet connection.  The internet brought democracy to the music video letting people watch, satirise and imitate whatever they wanted (and then as if to prove that democracy is flawed Justin Bieber’s song Baby got 731 million views).   

Another thought that struck me as I contemplated the JNLR’s findings was how music radio stations remain relevant and current if they are no longer setting the agenda – it is their audiences who are discovering the new artists online.  The answer came from a station rep who told of how they saw an artist, with an internet built fanbase, that their DJ’s had never heard of selling out Dublin’s O2 arena.  This led to a panicked rejigging of playlists as the artists was shoehorned into heavy rotation.  Cool now comes from the internet and the successful media outlets, and brands, are those who co-opt it quickest.

So, if in 1979 The Buggles had factored in the advent of the internet and its impact on the music video, (aside from being incredibly wealthy right now), they might have changed their song title to “online streamed video will make the radio star”.  



Giving Back

December 5, 2011

After reading Claire’s post last week about how people are now donating more than ever before, I couldn’t help but notice charity in unexpected places.  Small scale Samaritan  is a blog that was set up with the goal of giving something back. In each post, a different item is described which is being given away to the person that wants it the most. Items include sunglasses, dresses and other random pieces once bought, but no longer needed by the owner. Whoever writes in with the most persuasive case is then sent the item. A nice way of doing good deeds – on a larger scale than most.

This year, Movember saw men both at home and abroad sprouting somewhat unsightly facial hair in aid of a good cause. In 2010, 12,700 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas raised €1.6 million to raise awareness of prostate cancer and to fund research in the area. The Movember website allows people to donate money, read the live ‘mo’ tweet stream and also find about more about men’s health issues. A good site, but a great cause.

It seems that now, more than ever before, it’s easier to give something back, with online channels facilitating both individuals and organisations to do good.  The recently recorded charity single, tipped for this year’s Christmas no. 1, was put together when @BrendaDrumm crowdsourced volunteers through Twitter.   So while we’re now donating more than in previous years, is it really true that we’ve become more generous, or is it simply because the opportunities for giving are more plentiful and engaging than ever before?

Whatever the reason, in a world of depressing statistics on soaring unemployment rates and a stagnating economy, this is one good news story.


Creative Destruction

September 27, 2011

I first came across the term Creative Destruction when I read Alan Greenspan’s memoir, The Age of Turbulence (a quick Google tells me it was actually Karl Marx who came up with the term). The former Chairman of the United States’ Federal Reserve used the term to hypothesise that for economic markets to grow, existing trading methods need to be broken down and then rebuilt in new improved forms. Reading the book back in January 2008 it felt like reading the blueprint for financial success. I’m sure if I were to revisit the book now it would feel more like a blueprint for financial disaster. Context is everything.

I came across the term recently again as I dipped into John Hegarty’s book, Hegarty on Advertising. He defines Creative Destruction as the breaking down of old habits and practices that, in turn, create new and more powerful means of expression. He sets it in the context of various cultural revolutions through the ages, from Caravaggio to Elvis, from Michelangelo to punk, and applies it to modern day advertising, which he encourages to embrace technology and the new branding techniques and audience landscapes that come with it.

Last week announcements in the world of social media, were I guess, the latest form of Creative Destruction as both Facebook and Google moved to the next steps of their evolutionary processes. Indeed Facebook spell it out to us with the introduction of Timeline. And while a lot of the debate has focused on the corporate power plays of both of these organisations, the more fundamental point is that of John Hegarty. People, our consumers in marketing speak, are changing their behaviours every day and some companies adapt quicker to them than others. I’m told that Google+ has made 91 documented changes in its first 90 days of existence.  Now a breakfast cereal mightn’t be able to do that, but it can evolve its communication because if not, relevance can be lost in this modern world very quickly.

I read yesterday that in the world of marketing, Google is currently the most desired company to work for and on some levels one can see why.  Yet their world, all encompassing in so many ways, is only part of the picture in others. There have been more water cooler conversations about Downton Abbey in the office this week than Google and it’s the skill of understanding how all consumer touchpoints come together that give a broader perspective and understanding of the world that makes media the intellectually challenging and fun environment of which Google and Facebook are but an important (if rather sizeable) part.


Jedward – nil points.

Well, not quite, but a disappointing result all the same. After so much hype, our favourite twins finished 8 out of 25 last Saturday on the Eurovision. Despite being one of the top search terms over the past couple of weeks, Jedward failed to meet expectations. Not only is this disappointing, but also a little surprising. I know I’d give them my vote, why wouldn’t my European counterparts do the same?!


The problem, I feel, lies somewhere in the complicated world of culture. Often, something which goes down a storm in one country just doesn’t quite work in another. This is something of relevance not only for Eurovision acts, but also for marketers. During this year’s SuperBowl, GroupOn ran an ad featuring actor Timothy Hutton explaining that although the culture of Tibet is in trouble, its people can still “whip up an amazing fish curry”. The ad, watched globally, caused outrage, with thousands of complaints relating to its cultural insensitivity issued.

Despite missing out on Saturday’s top spot, however, Jedward helped the Eurovision reach a record number of Irish viewers this weekend. The contest, which ran on RTÉ One from 8:00 – 11:27pm was watched by an average of 1,174,300 – a figure higher than all the previous contests since 1997. Jedward are also currently rising high in download charts not only in Ireland, but also across Europe .  

Perhaps Jedward’s loss lies more in complicated European politics than in cultural differences.

Either that, or people just didn’t get it. Surely not?


Here’s a thought.  And here’s a place to share it too.  What if consumers.  Wait.  Are people consumers?  Or customers?  Or just people?  It bothers me that I’m not sure, but I’m sure I’m not sure.  I had a good conversation with a friend the other week who extolled the virtues of owning up when you don’t know something, which sounds like good advice to me.  And what do we ever do with the virtues of things except extol them?  In fact, I’ve rarely extolled anything other than virtues.

It was Flann O’Briens death-iversary the other day in case you’re wondering what happened there. 

Back to my thought – and we’ll go with consumers – what if consumers don’t really tell us anything?  And they don’t by the way.  What if a rhetorical question wasn’t rhetorical.  I’m reminded of a research group on sponsorship I attended a while back and the group were asked what they would like to see the sponsor do.  They were completely nonplussed.  They didn’t get it, they didn’t have any idea what they’d like to see from the sponsor – and why would they?  Which reminds me further of the apocryphal quote from Henry Ford.  He said if you’d asked people what they wanted before the invention of the motor car, they’d have asked for a faster horse.  And by god I’d like a horse with air-con, power steering and a decent sound system.

Consumers won’t tell us what they want.  And arguably the more you ask them, the further you get from the real answer.  And isn’t that the rub?  It’s also a bit of a linguistic theory – Saussure’s ideas of signifier, signified and meaning.  The idea that the words we use to represent things are arbitrary, but they’re associated with a common meaning.  But how common is that meaning if that meaning could be different to different people?  I mean is my colour red, the same as your colour red?  What if I describe something as smelling red – or is that just synaesthesia? 

We have to be grown ups about understanding consumers – observe them and figure it out.  That’s our job and that’s the fun of it.  If they just told us it’d be very boring anyway. 

Back when I first got into media I remember reading a year review in one of the marketing magazines where they asked agency heads to speak about the year to come.  And I remember Pat Donnelly saying people needed to be less constrained by research, research, research – instead they needed to start trusting their instincts and being bold and brave.  And I remember feeling extremely indignant at the time, thinking – typical – sure if the research doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, of course, ignore it and pretend that you’re justified in doing so. 

And now I’m not so sure. 

I think media agencies need to start having confidence in their convictions.  Just because we’ve more data and facts and figures than anyone else, we become too reliant on them.  Creative agencies need to be more thorough, logical and back up their reasoning (for trying to flog expensive TV production jobs).  And media agencies need to un-clench and borrow a bit of confidence from their colleagues in creative. 

And, and, and. 

And if I was any kind of slave to convention I’d tie this all back up in a neat bow, re-referencing Flann.  But I’m better than that, I’m able to resist – and sure after a pint of plain, that’s probably what he’d have wanted anyway.


%d bloggers like this: