Wednesday 7 December 2016

AdLib: Back to the drawing board with Chalke

Media & Marketing

Michael Cullen

Published 11/08/2016 | 02:30

Fiona Field, Mediaworks; Peter McPartlin, MediaCom; and Jess Felton, Raygun, at the Sharks Festival launch in the Cliff Townhouse restaurant on St Stephen's Green in Dublin
Fiona Field, Mediaworks; Peter McPartlin, MediaCom; and Jess Felton, Raygun, at the Sharks Festival launch in the Cliff Townhouse restaurant on St Stephen's Green in Dublin
Aaron Chalke, Mediaworks
Lisa Comerford, Brown Thomas

Aaron Chalke is his name and he's in client service at Mediaworks. Chalke admits to being an ad-oholic. The Mayo man can't get enough of advertising and all that's wrong with it. He works in a media agency because he loves it.

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He thrives on what he sees as the thrill of chasing a new idea, selling it to clients and feeling a rush of adrenalin when it rolls out.

Chalke's problem? Adland often compromises on creative ideas to the extent that by sign off stage, they are often unrecognisable from when they were first conceived.

He says advertising is the perfect melting pot of data, science and creativity. Done correctly, it can transform businesses, cultures and even the wider world.

"But why do we tiptoe into meetings with our cap in hand, ready to change every tiny detail based on feedback?" Chalke asks.

"Where's the conviction in our creativity? If we are employed for our talents, why are we so timid when it comes to backing them?"

Chalke was at the Cannes creative festival in June, an experience he found inspiring and frustrating in equal measure.

The best work showcased not only sold heaps of product, but offered insight, cultural impact and annoyingly simple yet clever executions. The work had a magnetic confidence which made it addictive.

The trickling of Cannes winning work from Ireland should be an avalanche.

There's no reason why Irish creatives can't perform at the highest levels. Agencies often see clients as a barrier to creative freedom - the hurdle they must jump to get ideas off the ground.

Little heed is paid to the pressures clients are under, as agencies are but a small percentage of a marketer's working day.

"We prepare for meetings as if going into battle, arming ourselves with stats and trends - prepared for each eventuality on the boardroom battlefield. We're delighted to emerge from meetings with just a few scars, trying to minimise our casualties," Chalke says.

It's an underlying theme across client-agency relationships. It's real and wrong; worse still, it's adland's fault.

Clients should challenge agency thinking and work. Just like a manager challenges the team and a teacher challenges students, it's needed to make adland better and raise the bar. It shouldn't be to nit-pick or pose unanswerable questions. It should be challenging ambitions. Is adland creative enough? Are boundaries being pushed?

Does it frustrate competitors? They should be challenging agencies to win a Cannes Lion.

"We've become so acclimatised to creative battles with clients that we're surprised if there's no pushback, no awkward questions, or even worse - we get a pat on the back," Chalke says.

"What, they actually liked our idea? How in the name of God are we going to do real, boundary-smashing work if we don't believe in creativity?"

Chalke says agencies lack trust; trust from clients and trust in themselves. Trust that a creative idea built on sound insight and cultural relevance can work.

Trusting that agencies don't have all the answers. If they propose ground-breaking work, how could they?

If it's truly innovative, it's never been done before. Dublin agency Rothco picked up a silver Lion at this year's Cannes for the Defence Forces 'Join Our Team'.

* The early bird offer of €395 for full delegates attending this year's Sharks festival in Kinsale ends tomorrow at which point the price reverts to €425.

The package allows full access to all events and accommodation throughout the three-day festival which starts on Thursday, September 22. The Thursday gets underway with short film and music video screenings.

The Friday sees the Creative Social speakers take to the stage, followed by the festival club.

On the Saturday, there's New Directors, more Creative Social talks, the advertising creative and media awards show, dinner and after party.

* Still no sign-off on Eir's creative ad review, which is now down to two agencies, the incumbent DDFH&B and London shop Snap. A decision is due by the end of August. DDFH&B handled Setanta Sport's rebrand as Eir Sport where RTE's former head of TV, Glen Killane, now runs the show, including the management of sports sponsorships.

As regards a replacement for Eir's director of brand and communications, Lisa Comerford, a company spokesperson said there's still no news. Comerford left Eir to become marketing director at Brown Thomas.

* McCannBlue has rolled out Kerry Group's new website after a contest with overseas agencies. The site's design and content was a year in the making. McCannBlue, part of Belfast-based AV Browne, also created interactive touchscreens at Kerry's global technology and innovation centre in Naas.

Other McCannBlue clients include Coca-Cola's Deep River Rock, Dundrum Town Centre, Hunky Dorys, Oki, Safefood, Seat and Zurich.

Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie: cullen@marketing.ie

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