Saturday 25 May 2019

Lillywhite in tune with Core team


Dave Fanning in conversation with Steve Lillywhite
Dave Fanning in conversation with Steve Lillywhite

Michael Cullen

Adland has changed completely, with the old ways of doing business redundant. To score goals nowadays, marketing communications agencies must break down the walls and dispense with the silos, Core CEO Alan Cox insists. Cox was speaking at the formal launch of the revamped group's new premises in Windmill Lane - known as 1WML.

In introducing a more unified and collaborative approach, he said all Core's client services are either provided singly or collectively - depending on what the client wants. Creativity is messy and unpredictable, Cox said. It's not just about creative assets that are published but stretches across all the disciplines.

The new Irish Rail ad
The new Irish Rail ad

"It's a cliché," Cox added, "but like most clichés, it's true - the magic happens with creativity when there's something bigger than the sum of the parts." Core Sponsorship boss Jill Downey said agency culture is hugely important. "But culture eats strategy for breakfast," Downey added. "It's fragile and must be nurtured."

To launch 1WML, Core invited veteran British music producer Steve Lillywhite for a fireside chat on stage with RTÉ presenter Dave Fanning. Lillywhite produced U2's first three albums - 'Boy' (1980), 'October' (1981) and 'War' (1983) - in Windmill Lane. He told U2 manager Paul McGuinness that no other major Irish rock band, including Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher and The Boomtown Rats, had ever produced an album in Dublin.

In the early days, Bono had no personality and was a galaxy away from his days of meeting with world leaders. It took U2 six months to sign up to Island Records. With songs like 'Native Son', 'Vertigo' and 'Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own', Bono wanted the music to inspire the lyrics. Lillywhite took the band out of their comfort zone with tracks like 'Beautiful Day'.

In 1986, he produced "the world's worst album - until the next one!" for the Rolling Stones. Called 'Dirty Work', the disco album showed up the deafening disquiet between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. "Jagger wanted to make money away from the Stones, while Richards' love of the lifestyle never overtook his love of music," Lillywhite said. He labelled the Stones "a pub band". Married to singer Kirsty MacColl, until she was tragically killed in a freak boating accident in Mexico in 2000, he produced 'Fairytale of New York' with the Pogues and worked with Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and Morrissey. The three all-time bands he admires most are The Beatles, Queen and The Smiths.

Lillywhite believes one reason for his success is that he has empathy - a characteristic not normally associated with the music industry. "I'll look out for the person with insecurities and not the alpha male full of confidence," he says.

Lillywhite now lives in Indonesia, which has a population of over 260 million people, many of them chicken-eating Muslims, with an appetite for weepy ballads. He sells 500,000 local music CDs in KFC restaurants every month. "Would you like a CD with that?" is how most paying customers are greeted.

  • Publicis has rolled out a print campaign for Irish Rail, aka Iarnród Éireann. Creative director Carol Lambert says the series of nostalgic ads aims to encourage families to rediscover the joy of train travel. The ads combine a mid-century illustration and typography style with images of today's typical passengers. There are three print versions, along with radio and TV spots. It was art directed by Neil Hanratty with copy by Peter Dobbyn and Rachel Murray as producer.
  •  Wilson Hartnell was the big winner at the annual PR Awards for Excellence presented at a gala lunch in the Shelbourne Hotel. Of the 19 awards presented, the agency, run by Sharon Murphy, won five categories for AIB's 'Backing Club & County', Bord Bia's 'Flex You Muscles', Electric Ireland's 'Making Minors Stars 'and two awards for Diageo - Baileys 'Treatyard' and Smithwick's '10 Degrees West'. Louise Walsh of Drury Porter Novelli was named young communications professional of the year.
  • Round-the-world sailor and serial entrepreneur Enda O'Coineen is happy to sail close to the wind again as his Kilcullen Kapital Partners investment group considers buying 'The Sunday Business Post'. Key Capital put it on the market last year. O'Coineen says he hadn't planned to re-enter the world of publishing but the Post bid is "probably worth a shot". He previously published 'Afloat' magazine.
  • And finally ... music producer Steve Lillywhite says that of Indonesia's 260 million people, only 2pc have a credit card. He says the country's consumers leapfrogged credit cards and made straight for digital payments.


  • Michael Cullen is editor of;

Indo Business

Also in Business