Monday 20 May 2019

Ad Lib: Brexit and 2019 challenges 'may be a godsend' - GroupM boss

Media & Marketing with Michael Cullen

Killer touch: ‘50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy’ star Baz Ashmawy has proved, following a stint covering for Ryan Tubridy on RTE Radio 1, that he can be a hit with TV and radio audiences
Killer touch: ‘50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy’ star Baz Ashmawy has proved, following a stint covering for Ryan Tubridy on RTE Radio 1, that he can be a hit with TV and radio audiences

As attention focuses on the year ahead, WPP's media agency umbrella GroupM - the holding company for Mindshare, MediaCom and Wavemaker - predicts the Irish advertising market will grow by less than 1pc in 2019 as the impact of Brexit threatens to have a negative impact on the economy by reducing consumer demand for products and services.

GroupM Ireland CEO Bill Kinlay says no one knows what the full extent of Brexit will be, but the effects look less than positive and its potential impact is at the forefront of business thinking. GroupM revised down its predictions for last year from a decline of 0.4pc to a fall of 0.8 pc. It expects that this year will see the market grow by 0.7pc to €736m.

GroupM general manager Simon Crisp says clients are looking for a greater return on spend than ever before and media owners are seeking out better dividends from their assets. Industry challenges aren't local. They are all pressured on what may be considered uneven playing fields, against the 'FAANGs' - Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google.

"Basically," Mr Crisp said, "nothing's going to come easy to us as an industry in 2019, but this might just be a godsend, spurring us on to future-proof our businesses expeditiously."

He said if those in marketing and media were entering a 2019 that was up by let's say 10pc, we might be ignoring the challenges of the underlying business models facing us right now.

Mr Crisp said he was not suggesting that adland has been lazy. But when there's more cash in the coffers, most people naturally relax, than attack the challenges. It's basic human nature. Disruption doesn't come when people are at their most comfortable. However, he added, Ireland should be positive about our position, not just on the European media scene, but further afield.

To put a little rationale behind his positive stance, Crisp referred to Liberty Global, the US media giant behind Virgin Media. Founder John Malone - now counted as the biggest landowner in the US - has been buying up stud farms, hotels and other properties in Ireland, to the tune of €300m. Mr Malone explained the reason for his Irish investments with one word: "Stability".

From a political perspective, Ireland hasn't lurched too far to the right, remaining largely centrist, which is attractive to business and investors. Add in a positive corporate tax regime and what's not to like about the country? Despite the accusation of 'leprechaun economics', the underlying indicators are strong and genuine.

Mr Crisp believes that within a stable and mature marketplace, size is critical to success. Ireland is perfectly positioned to be the media test bed of Europe and - in some cases - the world.

> Firewood Marketing has moved its European hub to new 2,500 sq ft offices on Dublin's Upper Baggot Street. Run by Emmet McCaughey, Firewood has expanded from three to 21 employees over the past 18 months. Headquartered in San Francisco, agency services include web development, UX design, email and analytics. Clients include Airbnb, Google, LinkedIn and Salesforce. One of Firewood's most recent hires is associate creative director Eric Kelleher, who joined from Radical in November.

> Game of Thrones actor Liam Cunningham is the guest speaker at a Commercial Producers Ireland (CPI) event this month. CPI chairman Paul Holmes of Red Rage Films says the gathering is aimed at showing the creative and production talent available in Ireland for commercials and to allow producers, agencies and advertisers to meet informally. The event is in Fallon & Byrne on Exchequer Street at 6pm on Thursday, January 31.

> And finally... RTE should seriously consider giving Baz Ashmawy a regular slot. He's shown from filling in for Ryan Tubridy on the morning show on RTE Radio 1 and also from his exploits with his thrill-seeking mammy, Nancy, on Sky One, he's got what it takes to engage TV and radio audiences.

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

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