Wednesday 16 January 2019

AdLib: Open secret of creative success

Oliver Callan at the launch of Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Oliver Callan at the launch of Kellogg’s GAA Cúl Camps. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Michael Cullen

There's no excuse for bad work. It's a debate that will always get advertising people worked up. Boys and Girls head of strategy Margaret Gilsenan tackled the issue with some gusto at this month's Association of Advertisers in Ireland (AAI) Toolkit breakfast seminar in Core. Gilsenan got the ball rolling by saying there's an onus on the industry to create engaging work now more than ever.

As 'the Socrates of San Francisco' during the 'Mad Men' era, Howard Gossage, once said "People don't pay attention to advertising, they pay attention to what interests them". Gilsenan went through seven behavioural themes which clients and agencies should adopt to mitigate as much as possible against the risk of bad work. Number one, partnership.

A client and its agency must be suited to each other. It means sharing the same creative vision and ambitions. Recognise that not all clients suit every agency, nor does every agency suit every client. Secondly, openness. Be candid and make sure the warts-and-all version of the business or brand are shared, so everyone is clear on what has to be done and the work focuses on the correct issues.

The third issue to keep in mind in trying to ensure 'good work' is the curse of time. Gilsenan said make sure there's enough time spent on briefing the agency. Don't live in the hope that the work will miraculously plaster over the cracks in thinking. The copy-and-pasting brief is the worse culprit in not giving the agency adequate time to turn good work into great work.

"Advertising isn't a game of Buckaroo," Gilsenan warned. "Don't overload your story with proof-points - that's the equivalent of making a list. Lists aren't interesting," she insists. The final two points to note in avoiding bad ad work come down to having strong research and defined measurement.

Researching the wrong people, using the wrong methodology, researching at the wrong time, asking consumers to answer and guide on things where they've no expertise is a sure way in getting misleading information and killing off good ideas. If advertisers don't measure success, there's no way of knowing if the work was good or bad.

Boys and Girls head of strategy Margaret Gilsenan who spoke at the AAI Toolkit breakfast. Photo; Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX
Boys and Girls head of strategy Margaret Gilsenan who spoke at the AAI Toolkit breakfast. Photo; Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX

Boys and Girls creative director Rory Hamilton outlined his agency's nine tips for producing top-class work. Have an idea and make sure it's a strong one. Elicit a reaction - any reaction. The truth can be more powerful than you think. Make the ad's message personal. Ask, who gives a s**t? Think simple. Hard-working can be brilliant, Hamilton says - and keep trying.

- The 16 young people shortlisted for this year's NewsBrands Ireland Press Pass student journalism awards have been invited to attend a prize-giving ceremony in Twitter's HQ in Dublin HQ today, along with their families, teachers, and friends. This year, more than 10,000 transition year students took part in the programme, which is supported by national newspaper groups, including Independent News & Media, which publishes this newspaper and others.

Press Pass is aimed at fostering developing literacy and critical thinking skills and encourages students to develop a deeper understanding of news media and how it communicates the world over. Entries were made across five categories - news, opinion, features, sport and photojournalism. A panel of journalists from NewsBrands' members judged the submissions.

- Urchin Restaurant on St Stephen's Green in Dublin was turned into a pop-up cereal café to launch Kellogg's continued sponsorship of the GAA Cúl Camps. Passers-by could drop in and have some Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies served to them by GAA All-Stars - Mayo footballer Andy Moran, Dublin hurler Danny Sutcliffe, Cork camogie player Rena Buckley and Donegal footballer Niamh Hegarty.

A record 142,467 kids, aged between six and 13, took part in last year's Cúl Camps, up 12pc on 2016. Impressionist extraordinary and GAA fan Oliver Callan and author and model Pippa O'Connor were on hand to help with the launch.

- Financial services group Fexco has rebranded with 'Building borderless businesses' as its new corporate tagline. The rebrand was managed by Fexco's group marketing director Shane Kavanagh working with Dynamo, under account lead Róisín Ní Ráighne. Set up by Brian McCarthy in Co Kerry in 1981, Fexco is Ireland's biggest privately-owned financial services group, with 2,800 employees in 30 markets.

- Four marketing students from Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) won the 23rd NIBS 2018 business case competition in Guatemala City, seeing off 15 championship round teams and 60 other students from around the world. Coached by Prof Roger Sherlock, the DIT team comprised Keith McCabe, Shaun Spelman, Orlaith Keys and Hamaad Sajid.

- And finally... BBDO Dublin chairman Ian Young will retire from adland in July. In a letter to agency clients and suppliers, Young said he doesn't plan to down tools completely but he's ready for a rest and "a proper break", before taking on some personal projects next year.

We wish him well.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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