Saturday 19 January 2019

AdLib: Our puzzling nation of boom and gloom

Media & Marketing with Michael Cullen

JP Donnelly, CEO of Ogilvy
JP Donnelly, CEO of Ogilvy
‘Are we waiting for Jack Charlton to come back so we can be positive again?’ asks Glanbia Consumer Foods CEO Colin Gordon
Rothco’s head of TV production, Mags Levingstone

Ireland may be among the happiest, best paid and least taxed nations but a message of "direness and desperation" is spread by sections of the media who insist on seeing the glass half empty, a leading food marketer has said.

Glanbia Consumer Foods CEO Colin Gordon, pictured, believes negative thinking has us "whipped into a beaten docket".

Speaking at an RDS Economic Vision 2020 lecture, Gordon said 862,000 Irish people don't pay any income tax and two-car families are not unusual. Most Irish men live four years longer than what they did in 1961, while women on average get another 10 years. Ireland has more police on the beat per head than the US, Australia, Japan and Denmark.

Yet less money has gone on advertising Irish food brands since 2002. Supplier offices have been relocated overseas.

While there appears to be a focus on food, the powers-that-be show little understanding of the component parts of an industry which puts prepared foods on tables while the country faces the highest regulated costs in Europe.

Gordon says a third of Ireland's top 100 grocery brands are imported and there's a €700m deficit. Half of all in-store packs are private label and 60pc of prepared consumer foods come from abroad - around €3bn a year. Huge retail changes has seen value become price and key performance indicators (KPIs) excessively revered. Whatever happened to gut feeling?

Irish consumers are different, Gordon insists, we're not a suburb of an overseas conglomerate. He worked at C&C soft drinks and in tobacco marketing at John Player. He founded the Bord Bia Brand Forum and has served on various advisory groups. He chairs Food & Drink Industry Ireland (FDII) and is on the board of Concern Worldwide.

Multinational food brands are 30 times more reliant on the retailer. RTE and The Irish Times use terms like 'rip-off Ireland' and 'Treasure Ireland'. Consumers are scared witless by harbingers of dire and doom. "Are we waiting for Jack Charlton to come back so we can be positive again?" Gordon asks. Lost taxes on illegally imported tobacco could be used to build two children's hospitals a year.

The equivalent of two-thirds of the country's grocery budget is spent on gambling and €40m on cosmetic surgery. To end the "state of dire", greater confidence and a 'glass half full' mind-set is needed. Irish prepared food "doesn't just happen" and shouldn't be taken for granted. Ongoing inaction has meant no rules have been agreed for retail buy-sell in the past 10 years, Gordon added.

* Market research agencies have until Monday, May 16 to present for the next Joint National Readership Survey (JNRS) contract. Launched in 1972, the JNRS provides media and advertisers with extensive information about consumers' readership of newspapers and periodicals.

The survey has been handled by WPP agency Millward Brown for many years, with recent updates on online tracking. The contract last went out to pitch in 2008. Former Lansdowne Research chief executive Robin Addis worked closely on the study for many years, including up to and after Lansdowne/IMS became Millward Brown.

A copy of the JNRS tender brief is available from the committee secretary. The review coincides with the JNLR radio listenership tracking handled by Ipsos MRBI going out to agencies. A decision on the review is expected by late June.

* Rothco has pre-registered for Straight8's global Shootout and will compete with other leading creative agencies and production companies. The beauty of Shootout is that there's no brief and entries are shot on one unedited Kodak Super 8 film cartridge, with no re-takes. Just 25 entries are allowed and agencies sign up on a first-come, first-served basis. Soundtracks must be original and silent movies are not allowed. All entries will be screened in Cannes at the end of June. Straight8 founder Ed Sayers has been signed up as a juror and speaker for the Sharks creative festival in Kinsale in September.

* After 12 years at Ogilvy & Mather, Dave Smyth is stepping down as managing director and will leave the agency at the end of May. Smyth plans to tackle new career challenges. He will take the summer off and return to work in the autumn.

He joined O&M from Dimension in 2004, before which he worked on the client side as marketing manager for Warner Music and as a strategist at Irish Life. Ogilvy CEO JP Donnelly will assume full managerial responsibility.

* After a review, Citroen has appointed Mediaworks to handle its buying and planning in place of PHD. Elsewhere, on the move front, PR executives Paula McEvoy and Eleanor Murphy have left the National Lottery. Murphy has taken on a communications role at Ikea. Red C, run by Richard Colwell, has opened a London office, run by former Future Thinking directors Richard Barton and Charlotte Butterworth.

Michael Cullen is editor of

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