Viral Marketing in its simplest form is the spreading of an idea which helps to benefit your business or cause (a charity in this case). Since July 2014 when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge began reaching critical mass, the phenomenon has steadily taken over people’s news and twitter feeds. The organisations website is as recently as the 27th of August reporting a staggering €94.3 million in donations for the period (July 29 – August 27). This is in comparison to $2.7 million for the same period last year. It goes without saying the campaign has been a tremendous success.

We at OMD wanted to explore why and how the Ice Bucket Challenge was such a success. We have broken it down to a number of factors.

Celebrity Seeding

The campaign took hold when Peter Frates a former Boston College Baseball star and ALS sufferer popularized the campaign. Peter had close connections with well-known Boston athletes and as a sufferer he was a fitting voice to both publicise the campaign and tie it into the ALS association. The campaign has seen celebrities like LeBron James, Rory McIlroy, Justin Bieber and even George W. Bush complete the challenge. These social influencers and hundreds more like them, endorsing the campaign has been worth billions in terms of what traditional contractual endorsements would have cost the ALS association.


Marketers don’t create a phenomenon like the Ice Bucket Challenge. They create an idea which they hope is compelling. The audience’s reaction is what will create the phenomenon. Video happens to be the perfect medium to facilitate this reaction and social media is the channel in which we distribute the content. Video was fundamental to the campaigns success as I’m sure you can imagine the same posts with still images wouldn’t have generated near as much cut through. Short snappy video is both engaging and shareable. This applies to a large amount of social content and can be proved by the higher click through rates on video vs. standard display.

Viral Component

The campaign has an in built viral component. The fact people nominate at least three other people to complete the challenge spreads the cause automatically. It is almost like the concept of chain letters from years past. The virility of this campaign has reached all demographics. Although its initial boost may have come from celebrity participation, the campaign has spanned all generations and social demographics.

Simplicity & Timing

The challenge excluded very few people as access to the raw components is readily available to most. The simple act of dumping a bucket of water on oneself is both funny and enjoyable. People also enjoy seeing people they know or admire (celebrities) in compromising positions. Although the task was quite easy it allowed the competitive nature in people to make the funniest and most original videos come to life. Timing cannot be under estimated in terms of the campaigns success. The warm summer months have lended themselves perfectly to the challenge. I’m not so sure people would have been as eager in New England during the snowy winter months to run outside and kick start this phenomenon.

Feel Good Cause

This weighed in extra impotence behind the campaign as people felt the moral obligation to support such a worthy cause. Most people wouldn’t have taken part but for the charity element evoking an emotional connection with the challenge.

The above factors combined allowed the Ice Bucket Challenge to be one of the most successful viral marketing campaigns of all time. It is proof that a simple, entertaining idea which is executed at the right time can reach every corner of the earth and truly show the worth of earned media.

We look forward to seeing how much the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge eventually nets for the worthwhile charities and how the funds can help in the battle against motor neuron disease.

See the link below to OMD’s own Ice Bucket Challenge.




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!


Samsung wearable tech

Wearable technology has been coming for quite a while now. The launch of the Samsung Gear in September 2013 marked the dawn of a new era. Samsung were the first to market at the expense of having a super slick ready to wow product. However being the first to market has allowed them to learn quickly what works and where they can improve. Ryan Bidan the head of Samsung Product Marketing has been quoted as saying they have learned 3 main lessons from the Galaxy Gear 1.

  1. People want more from the gear itself. They don’t just want notifications. More recent software updates has allowed this happen for email. Rather than just say you have an email, users can now see the sender and initial paragraph of the email without having to reach for their phone.
  2. Samsung has found users are keen to use voice recognition software rather than the touchscreen.
  3. Aesthetically, consumers like the option to have replacement wristbands. With the Galaxy Gear 1 consumers were in essence stuck with the original wristband they chose. Future versions I think may offer replaceable wristbands for consumers to customise their smart technology.

A synopsis from on wearable technoilogy in 2013 is that “there is lots of interest, a lot of caution and not much worth buying…yet.”

So just this week at the Mobile World Congress Samsung announced the launches of its Samsung Galaxy S5, Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo (the gear has lost “galaxy” in it’s name). In terms of wearable technology the Gear 2 is to some extent what was expected. New replaceable wristbands and  longer battery life answer some of the main complaints people had with the Gear 1. The Gear 2 Neo is much the same as the the Gear 2 but without the 2 megapixel camera which is now mounted in the watch face rather than the wristband. A new feature I am personally excited about is the infra-red blaster. This allows users to manage their TV from the Gear 2. It brings people back to the nostalgic beginning of digital watches and the fun consumers had changing the station from their watch.

The big news is that the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo are no longer running on Android. They are built to run on Samsungs Tizen operating system. This is presumably why the “Galaxy” was dropped from the name. Samsung are claiming that the Gear 2 running on Tizen will allow the watch to connect to a wider variety of devices. It does for certain spice up the operating system battle and will give Google Android something to think about going forward within the waerable market.

The imminent launch of Apples iWatch in 2014 is written all over this launch. The Samsung Gear 2 now has an optical sensor which can track your heart rate, multiple exercise modes and various app’s to enhance the health conscious users experience. Whether Apple release a fitness band or smart watch, Samsung have certainly tried to position themselves ahead of the trend.

It looks like exciting times on the horizon as the smart watch and wearable technology race eventually begins to heat up. Next is how as marketers can we reach these consumers on their newest user interface.

Donnacha Kinsella

Account Executive OMD

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.


New Year’s Resolutions

January 23, 2012

As the end of January nears, a lot of us will be thinking about our new year’s resolutions and how well we’ve stuck at them. This year, more than ever before, a whole range of apps and techie solutions have been at hand to help us along. According to trendwatching’s report on ‘DIY Health’, there are over 9,000 health apps available, with this number expected to rise to 13,000 by mid-2012. The ‘Jawbone’s Up’ product allows users to monitor sleeping and movement patterns by simply wearing a personal wristband.

The popular RTE programme Operation Transformation  returned this month once again. With coverage on the John Murray show as well as a mobile website giving the chance to track your own weight loss, Operation Transformation is not just a TV programme but a multi-platform solution to those needing a bit of support to meet their weight loss goals (the recipes on the website are great too, if anyone is looking for a bit of inspiration).

With all of these great resources, it should be easy to stick to our new years goals. Shouldn’t it? Plenty of people would say no. According to Oliver Burkeman, Guardian columnist on self-help, happiness and other matters related to transformation, the very idea of new year resolutions is wrong. The ‘focusing illusion’ often takes place, which means that when we don’t meet our own high expectations of the shiny new person we picture ourselves becoming, we then feel worse about ourselves. Burkeman suggests instead that we set one modest goal, and give it a 30 day trial . This way it’s more likely to become a habit as opposed to an unsustainable grand change in our lives.

If it feels like this advice is coming too late, think of how much easier it will be to set a goal when the weather’s milder, the days are longer and the hellish cash strapped days of January are over. And making a resolution in February means the pressures off – half of people who’ve set new year resolutions have broken them within a month.

Good luck!


Something happened somewhere along the line that we all missed.  We missed that meeting, we slept through it.  We meant to spend a bit of time getting our heads around it, but somehow it kept slipping off the urgent list.  I remember when there was no Google and I know that it’s everywhere now.  It’s just the in-between bit that I’m sketchy on.

I’m also convinced that there’s nothing we can do about it.  So, really, questioning the rights and wrongs and moralities of it, whilst it might be interesting (or not?) is kind of an irrelevance.  It rains a lot in Ireland.  In some ways I wish it didn’t, it’s pretty annoying.  In other ways I’m glad that it does, the green landscape is really beautiful.  But I’d never sit around debating whether or not it should rain so much here or not.  What’s the point?  There’s no ‘should’ about it – it just does.  Rainfall is up to God, Superman, ComReg, the BAI, ClearCast or whoever it is that regulates our weather.


Back to Google.  They’re on the cusp of being the single biggest ‘media’ vendor in this market and beyond.  As I asked at the beginning, when the hell did that happen?  It doesn’t matter when it happened.  How did it happen?  Doesn’t really matter either, it just did.  So what are we going to do about?  Well, nothing we can do about it.  They went straight to the client on this one – that is the consumer, the public, the people using the world wide web.  They voted with their traffic and that’s the way it is. 


As long as they have a monopoly on the audience, we haven’t a leg to stand on.  Imagine a world in which the biggest media vendor doesn’t give you a percentage of discount, a percentage of media commission.  No volume deal, no share deal, no early payment deal, no annualised incentive.  Even talking to them is on their terms.  Depending on which of their client categories you fit into, you get to speak with a specific layer of their sales organisation.  Thanks for your business.  Paulie in Goodfellas had a similar service ethos.


And yet, and yet, and yet…  Flip this on its’ head and is this not the best thing to ever happen to a media agency?  We don’t want to be commoditised, we don’t want a race to the bottom, we want to add value and be rewarded for more than just bulk buying media space as if it were paper clips or ink cartridges, right? We said that, didn’t we?  Alright then, let’s get on with it.  Google is a level playing field for every agency, every client, everyone who wants to do business with them.  The only differentiator is how well you use their products and services.  In other words, the only differentiator is you, the agency, through your people.  Which is what we said we wanted all along. 


So get out there and start differentiating, get a competitive advantage and leave the moral navel-gazing to someone else.

John Clancy.

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.


In an interview with the Times this weekend, Arianna Huffington claimed that ‘self-expression is the new entertainment. In the past, people just sat on the couch watching TV’.

The notion of ‘cognitive surplus’ was originally made famous by Clay Shirky. This is the idea that when applied to other endeavours, the time normally spent watching TV can be highly productive. Shirky also argued that we’re now living in a time when people enjoy producing, just as much, if not more than consuming.

Clay Shirky

A recent report from Trendwatching outlined a whole host of innovative ideas not just from big brands, but also small businesses. A high number of these innovations demand active consumer involvement, as opposed to passive consumption. The Swedish retailer Papercut is offering discounts on a variety of items through its website There is one small catch, however – shoppers must avail of the reduced price within 4 seconds, or the offer is gone forever. Meanwhile, the ‘Google Wallet’ allows android users to make payments for products and services through their smartphone after downloading the app. NFC technology allows payments to be made through shoppers’ Mastercard accounts.

These examples show that consumers are willing to spend time interacting with new technology if the benefits are great enough. With advertising, while consumers still spend time passively consuming media, the amount of time spent interacting with ads, whether they’re outdoor, online, or on mobile, is on the rise.

As technology advances, shoppers are becoming more and more empowered. Nowadays the role of the consumer has changed, and we’re playing more of an active role in our purchasing decisions. The bar has been raised, as greater challenges lie ahead for marketers.


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?


I haven’t seen the movie Killing Bono, but having watched the trailer, I love the conceit: “I was nearly in the best band in the world but fate dictated otherwise”.

I’d love to be able to say the same is true of me and how close I came to being Liverpool’s centre forward, but if Killing Bono is a ‘true-ish’ story, any claim to me having a fledgling football career would be a downright lie.

What are the near misses of the marketing and advertising world? What left turn did Harp take that only those of a certain age have fond memories of Sally O’Brien and “the way she might look at you”, whatever happened to the Radion family and their stain busting washing powder, and more recently what caused Bebo to be overrun by Facebook and why does Nokia look like it’s once unassailable position in the handset market is crumbling before their very eyes.

I guess the truism that the only constant is change plays its part. Harp, once part of an (un) holy trinity of Guinness, Smithwicks and Harp suddenly found itself fighting against the Americans and Nordics as Budweiser, Carlsberg et al entered the scene with seductive allure of unconquered worlds on their side. Radion fell to a combination of multi-national rationalisation and the ever evolving technological advances of its stable mates and competitors. Facebook garnered the momentum of the adult social network that it has become and Nokia came face to face with the genius of Steve Jobs and the creative positioning of Samsung and HTC in the android world. There are hundreds of other examples one could choose.

So how do we protect ourselves from ending up being the second best band in Artane? To use another marketing cliché, stay in touch with our audience. More than ever consumers can garner information, move quickly and switch loyalties. We need to stay in touch, stay relevant, engage and at times entertain. Bono once claimed that U2 were re-applying to be the biggest band in the world. I think he wouldn’t make a bad marketer if the music thing doesn’t work out. The McCormack brothers are waiting in the wings, only to eager to fill his shoes.



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