Monday 18 November 2019

Contagious chief's ideas are catching

Con O'Callaghan at the official launch of Davy as sponsor of the Cuala Senior Hurling team Photo: Sportsfile
Con O'Callaghan at the official launch of Davy as sponsor of the Cuala Senior Hurling team Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Cullen

Contagious is a word normally synonymous with flu or some other dreaded health scare. But in the UK and beyond, Contagious spreads guidelines about the future of marketing among ad agencies and brand owners - providing an instruction manual for change. Back in 2014, Paul Kemp-Robertson decided to up sticks from Leo Burnett in Chicago, where he was worldwide director of creative resources, and build his own business.

He could sense the advertising industry was about to get sucked into a vortex of change wrought by new tech, unpredictable consumer behaviours, the rise of mobile and disruptive new business models. A former editor of photographic magazine 'Shots', he teamed up with his ex-boss Gee Thomson and media owner John Gordon to prove that creativity is the last remaining legal way of gaining an unfair advantage over your business rivals.

Kemp-Robertson will be in Dublin next month to speak at a Marketing Society breakfast seminar on 'The 10 Commandments for Marketing Success'. As well as its London HQ, Contagious operates out of New York, Sao Paulo and Singapore. Agency clients include Bacardi, Coty, Disney, Google, Heineken, Mondelez, Nike and Spotify.

The main part of its business is now Contagious I/O; a collaborative online intelligence platform that provides agencies, media owners and marketers with insights, creative ideas and advice on innovation. One of Kemp-Robertson's 10 commandments is 'weaponising your audience'. What on earth could he mean by that?

Well, when Contagious was first launched, the mantra for marketing was 'Be useful, relevant, entertaining'. TV ads and military terms like target, bombard, collateral and guerrilla dominated the mediascape. But as the balance of power has shifted, brand owners see people as media.

Kemp-Robertson says marketers should now provide opportunities to interact with brands, as Coca-Cola did with its personalised 'Share a Coke'. It allows companies to embed audiences into the brand's narrative. Adidas refers to influencer marketing as a new sort of 'eye-to-eye relationship' with messages based on audience insights. They did it for the launch of the Glitch football boot. Contagious coined the term 'agile long-termism', echoing Daniel Kahneman's book 'Thinking Fast and Slow'. On one level, a person's brain can only process so many decisions, which should be the brand owner's long-term strategy and values. Yet businesses must also make simple decisions quickly, just as people instinctively walk, eat and breathe.

Paul Kemp-Robertson's Marketing Society talk is in the Sugar Club at 7.45am on March 15.

- Irish Breeze has a new global ad campaign for WaterWipes, the Irish brand that claims to be the world's purest baby wipe with 99.9pc water content and a drop of fruit extract. What makes the 'When a Baby is Born, a Parent is Born' TV ad most interesting is that it was created by Providence, Rhode Island agency Nail Communications specifically for the US market.

The ad for Irish Breeze's WaterWipes

Nail's managing partner is Irishman Jeremy Crisp, who worked on WaterWipes during his days in Dublin as DDFH&B's boss. OMD is handling the media-buying in Ireland, valued at €120,000. WaterWipes was the brainchild of Irish Breeze boss Ed McCloskey who sought out a chemical-free baby wipe after discovering his newborn daughter suffered from nappy rash and sensitive skin.

- While rugby fans will be on tenterhooks for crucial Ireland's NatWest Six Nations game against England at Twickenham on St Patrick's Day, hurling fans will be all geared up for the AIB GAA All-Ireland senior club finals in Croke Park on the same day.

Team emotion is captured in AIB's latest episode of 'The Toughest' ad series - with the heartbreak of the Slaughneil club losing out on the final offset by the joy and relief of Na Piarsaigh going to Croker. The Limerick club will take on reigning club champions Cuala from Dalkey in south Dublin. Cuala recently signed a shirt deal with Davy stockbrokers for an undisclosed sum.

- Around 300 marketers with an interest in sport will make for Croke Park next Thursday when the Irish Sponsorship Summit kicks off with a half-day conference. Speakers will be supported by panel discussions debating topics and trends centred on the NFL, 2016 Olympic Games, Ryder Cup and eSports.

Mark Harrison, founder of The 1 Agency and Sponsorship X, will discuss global trends. Alex Shapiro, who manages global sponsorships for Visa Europe, will talk about activations for this summer's Fifa World Cup in Russia. Closer to home, Andrew Jenkinson from vStream will share virtual reality learnings from F1 motor racing.

- While decisions on the Sky, HSE and Bank of Ireland media agency reviews are still awaited, word has it that the bank is to undergo a corporate facelift soon. Details on the revamp are being kept under wraps, but it's understood the new look won't involve a name change.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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