Wednesday 17 July 2019

Michael Cullen: 'Visitors get the message about Cork attractions after rebrand'

Ad Lib: Media & Marketing

Adding value: Visit Cork destination manager Ursula Morrish says the ‘Pure Cork’ logo avoids the ‘shamrock kitsch of other destinations
Adding value: Visit Cork destination manager Ursula Morrish says the ‘Pure Cork’ logo avoids the ‘shamrock kitsch of other destinations

Michael Cullen

Tourism marketing and the job of enticing people to holiday and do business at home has trended in recent years. After seeing how Wild Atlantic Way signage convinced people to visit everywhere from Donegal to Kinsale, other regions decided they wanted 'in' on the staycations front too. Fáilte Ireland duly rolled out the Hidden Heartlands brand for the midlands and the Ancient East, where we're told 'Great stories stay with you forever'.

Not to be outdone, counties, towns and cities have jumped on the marketing bandwagon circling the nation.

A few years ago, Ursula Morrish returned to Ireland with her young family, having emigrated in 1989 to work in marketing in London and Tokyo. Back in Cork, she felt rather anxious that her hometown may have changed beyond recognition.

Morrish landed the role of destination manager at Visit Cork, a private-public venture aimed at promoting Cork to leisure and business visitors. In 2014, Cork accounted for 18pc of Ireland's overseas visitors and 12pc of domestic trips, but the city and county was underperforming. The lack of a proper marketing plan was holding it back.

Cork wasn't best-placed to capitalise on projected visitor growth. Its message was confusing and incoherent.

There was a lack of awareness of what visitors could do in Cork. Kay McCarthy's MCCP agency was hired to produce a strategy to grow local tourism. It comprised four key plans and 28 different actions. Visit Cork took off.

Research and analysis, advisory groups, workshops and consultations got going. MCCP engaged 112 individuals from 58 stakeholders as strategic advisers. Design Works was given the task of creating a brand identity, endorsed by all 15 members of the Visit Cork board. 'Cork - Maritime Haven' was agreed as the brand proposition most likely to win the attention and curiosity of potential visitors, with Pure Cork as the campaign logo.

Morrish, who recently joined the Tyndall National Institute, says Pure Cork has a colloquial value. "It belongs to Cork and gives us a sense of ownership and community... unadulterated and far from the 'Disneyfied' shamrock kitsch of other destinations," she insisted.


The next Toolkit seminar hosted by the Association of Advertisers in Ireland (AAI) sees adland creatives Paudge Donaghy and Trista Vincent speak about brands, politics and the broader implications for corporate activism. In a talk entitled 'Yo, Propagandhi!', they will ask if marketers have been too hasty in embracing cause-aligned advertising? Has everyone become punch drunk on the Kool-Aid of brand purpose? The seminar gets under way at 8.30am in Core's offices at 1 Windmill Lane on February 5.

Media interest in the Aer Lingus refresh was high. The airline hired US agency Lippincott to handle the rebrand.

Lippincott's other clients include Delta, Southwest and Hawaiian Airlines. Dubliner Brendán Murphy, based in the New York office, was the project's lead designer. But not sure if that's enough to appease Irish designers who lost out on the lucrative contract.


More power to Energia and its agency Boys + Girls for taking a different tack with new ads highlighting its services across Ireland.

The ads focus on Energia being behind all the country's streetlights, the runways at Dublin Airport and classrooms and maternity hospitals. Hopefully, it will see the bright sparks at Energia confine the science lab gerbils to the dark.


Companies keen to engage in corporate social responsibility programmes have until February 15 to match funds of up to €7,500 to sponsor artists in residence around the country.

The Business to Arts programme is an extension to the pilot projects run in Dublin Docklands and is supported by Creative Ireland.

And finally... Where's Ireland's best brunch? Food writer Georgina Campbell and Fáilte Ireland want people to nominate their choice online between now and next Monday. The National Dairy Council have come on board as award sponsor for the 'Irish Dairy the Complete Natural Brunch'.

Quite a mouthful that.

  • Michael Cullen is editor of;

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