Thursday 19 April 2018

AdLib: Can't beat feeling for agency success

TV3 presenter Lucy Kennedy, pictured with Today FM’s Al Porter. Inset, Sharks festival Judge Mike Mesbur
TV3 presenter Lucy Kennedy, pictured with Today FM’s Al Porter. Inset, Sharks festival Judge Mike Mesbur
Mike Mesbur, Ogilvy

Michael Cullen

The essence of great advertising comes from inspiration and what stimulates someone to do create something really special is empathy and emotional intelligence. A creative director or copywriter with no empathy is like a tightrope walker with no balance or a journalist who lacks curiosity. Ogilvy creative director and Kinsale Sharks festival judge Mike Mesbur says empathy is confused with sympathy, but the two emotions are worlds apart.

While sympathy is about feeling sorry for someone in time of need or upset, empathy is actually feeling the thrust of a person's fears, hopes and dreams. If you don't intuitively feel it, you can't really connect to it. "Brands need to relate to consumers, rather than the agency serving the brand," Mesbur told AdLib. "It shouldn't be only about what the client wants from its agency."

The Ogilvy worldwide agency network has evolved a creative and planning programme which aims to get to grips with understanding what moves consumers to change their lives.

Mesbur is a fan of British ad veteran David Trott, whose wise ramblings online are widely read and harvested. One of Trott's blogs talks about storytelling.

For more years than one cares to recall telling stories has enthralled people, but a storyteller never had to actually sell a product or service. Beowolf wasn't sponsored by anyone, Trott insists. The old storyteller was guaranteed his audience's full attention and he'd no competition.

The fact remains that of the £20bn spent on ads in the UK of late, 89pc went unnoticed. So nine out of 10 storytellers are talking to themselves. Anyone can be a storyteller, Trott added, churning out £18bn in what amounts to 'wallpaper'. To suggest otherwise is patronising.

Mesbur's favourite Irish campaigns over recent days include Dulux 'Swimmers' and Energia's 'Guinea Pigs'. Overseas campaigns deserving of bouquets include Dove 'Sketches', Under Armour and Channel 4's work for the Paralympics, which he believes exudes empathy. From a nostalgic standpoint, Bill Bernbach's VW 'Lemon', Cadbury's Flake "crumbliest, flakiest chocolate..." and David Ogilvy's man in the Hathaway shirt take centre stage.

Mesbur looks forward to judging the Shark awards in Kinsale in September. While ICAD is about the awards - the bells they hand over - the Sharks is a festival in the same way as Cannes, albeit on a much more modest scale. It's about discussing ideas with international judges and delegates, attending workshops and picking up some nuggets.

Undoubtedly, the Sharks is also meant to be an enjoyable social escape for creatives. "But it all comes back to inspiration and that means leaving Kinsale on the Sunday with not just a hangover," Mesbur adds.


TV3 presenter Lucy Kennedy has been voted celebrity mum of the year by 'Woman's Way' readers. Dublin mum Esther Kelly-Keating was crowned the magazine's Beko-sponsored mum of the year. Nominated by her daughter Charlotte, the mother of four works in a nursing home. She began her medical training when she was 17 in the UK.

She returned to Ireland and continued to update her nursing qualification while working in a care centre. In 2008, she completed a higher graduate diploma in gerontology at UCD. She won €3,000 worth of Beko home appliances and €2,500 in prizes. Each of the 15 finalists received a luxury goodie bag worth €500.

Murray is handling the PR for the country's biggest hotel, Citywest, in Saggart, Co Dublin, as it rolls out a €13m upgrade. First made famous by businessman Jim Mansfield during the 1990s, the hotel built a reputation for hosting the country's largest events like the annual Fianna Fáil ard fheis, GAA functions and a gala dinner for President Bill Clinton.

Now owned by Tetrarch Capital, whose other properties include the Marker Hotel and Mount Juliet, Citywest's renovated leisure centre includes a 20-metre pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Dining facilities include the refurbished Woodlock Brasserie and the new Swift Bar. The hotel's 18-hole golf course was designed by the late Christy O'Connor Jr.


As many people prepare to head off on holiday, Air France has come up with an idea to help those who dread flying, particularly take-off and landing. It has launched its own chewing gum which it says helps relieve pain in the ears caused by varying cabin pressure. The gum is called La Gomme à Mâcher.

A spokesman said the chewing action is enough to balance internal ear pressure and make flights less troublesome. The gum comes in two flavours, pistachio-macaroon and crème brûlée. It's sold on flights from Paris to LA, San Francisco and Mexico City.


Unilever has agreed a partnership between its Unilever Foundry and Ireland's Dogpatch Labs startup hub. The foundry helps innovators engage, collaborate and explore business ideas with the Anglo-Dutch giant. The tie-up provides startups with marketing skills, global reach and investment funds.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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