Monday 19 March 2018

AdLib: The business bible of Bobby

Eilish Joyce, Astrid Brennan and Brian Melarkey become associate directors at FleishmanHillard
Eilish Joyce, Astrid Brennan and Brian Melarkey become associate directors at FleishmanHillard
The photograph, ‘Elvis Fan’, by Barry Delaney, which features in an exhibition of works in Cork’s Camden Palace Hotel
Bobby Kerr

Michael Cullen

Feck the begrudgers, play to win and never try to fool the customer. Three tips entrepreneur Bobby Kerr would offer young marketers.

Speaking at an Electric Ireland breakfast in the Shelbourne Hotel, Kerr urged graduates of the UCD Smurfit Business School's marketing development programme to surround themselves with positive people and learn from mistakes.

The man who helped build Insomnia into a chain selling 14m cups of coffee a year with 106 shops and €30m in turnover says a value proposition is a given in getting people through the door. Being cheap isn't the issue, what matters is giving customers something of value. Lead from the front and by example as staff react to management standards.

Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. How Insomnia coffee shops are run is largely left to the managers with head office lending marketing and admin support. Innovation is ongoing, like automated loyalty cards.

Food retailers need to chop and change the top and bottom menu sellers to avoid fatigue. Special offer combo deals with coffee/buns, soup and sandwiches, etc, work a treat.

Kerr says marketing doesn't have to cost "big bucks". Being creative can often mean just being clever. Like highlighting when singer Miley Cyrus appeared in the press with a cup of Insomnia coffee in her hand.

Or when Ajai Chopra's IMF delegation was walking along St Stephen's Green past a beggar holding out an Insomnia cup. The photo was later Photoshopped with Brian Cowen's head superimposed and it went viral.

Last year, Kerr took time out of presenting his 'Down to Business' show on Newstalk to get treatment for oral cancer.

Not surprisingly, it made him appreciate the value of good health. It gave him more reason to treasure the three things that really matter most in life - health, friendships and family.

"We often complicate things but it's only when you get sick you realise what's important," Kerr said.

"For the first time in a long time I'm thinking about my next holiday - not my next shop opening. So, don't bother yourself sweating the small stuff."

While his time on 'Dragons' Den' was not his proudest business feat, Kerr made ten investments, three of which went bust. It was mixed bag, but he had "lots of fun". He bought Bang restaurant in Dublin out of receivership six years ago, which he described as "a great brand". Despite its troubled past, it pays its way.

A keen sailor, he's been shooting a new show for UTV called 'Along Home Shores'. The eight-part, half-hour series looks at Ireland's waterways and coastlines and will be broadcast this autumn.

An advocate for preserving businesses in rural Ireland, Kerr was hired by An Post to come up with ideas. In tandem with the campaign, he takes his Newstalk show to towns around the country.

He recently did a broadcast from Mullingar where he was joined by Ryanair's Michael O'Leary. This weekend's 'Down to Business' comes from Ennis.

Other tips Kerr offers young marketers is to do as you say - never spoof or tell lies. Integrity is a great thing, so don't do anything you'll regret.

Surround yourself with positive people, network and learn from others. Innovate constantly. Set realistic goals and targets and always try to have fun and enjoy what you do.


* Eilish Joyce, Astrid Brennan and Brian Melarkey have been made associate directors at FleishmanHillard (FH). Joyce is a senior corporate communications consultant, Brennan is on the PR agency's brand marketing team and heads up FH Boutique lifestyle, while Brian Melarkey is the agency's creative director.

FH, whose managing director is Rhona Blake, won two silver Lions at Cannes for Philips.

Other FH clients include ABP Foods, Boots, Communicorp, Grant Thornton, Mondelez International and William Fry.

* Opening in Cork's Camden Palace Hotel at 6.30pm today is 'Outside:', a show of the works of ten photographers with quirky approaches to documenting modern life. The images include personal stories and studies from the 1980s to the present day. Among the various exhibits are 'Elvis Fan' by Dublin photographer Barry Delaney.

* Niall Corcoran's Creative Inc has been rebranded as CI Studio. When Corcoran founded the agency 20 years ago there were not many 'incs' about, unlike today. The rebrand also ties in with the agency's focus on overseas business. As with most rebrands these days, CI Studio also revamped its website.

* Jenny Whelan is the new acting editor of Kevin Kelly's grocery magazine 'Checkout'. She had been online editor and replaces Stephen Wynne-Jones, who's now editor-in-chief with prime responsibility for the group's international title, 'ESM: European Supermarket Magazine'.

* Bouquets to DDFH&B for the National Lottery iHubbs ads running on the Big Belly solar bins in and around Dun Laoghaire. 'Never bin a winning ticket' is the ad's headline, followed by an invite to passers-by to download and play Lotto.


Michael Cullen is editor of

Indo Business

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