Sunday 23 September 2018

Think tank must quickly address 'the challenges' facing adland

Appeal: IAPI president and Publicis director Jimmy Murphy said advertising must lead Irish business by being at the vanguard of diversity and inclusion. Photo: Jason Clarke Photography
Appeal: IAPI president and Publicis director Jimmy Murphy said advertising must lead Irish business by being at the vanguard of diversity and inclusion. Photo: Jason Clarke Photography

Michael Cullen

As Ireland's advertising industry continues to morph, the body charged with the task of reacting proactively to the changes plans to tackle what's euphemistically termed "the challenges" - a polite word for problems - that face adland. The Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI) has just set up a think tank comprising some of the industry's heaviest hitters.

The elephant in the agency is still tech and how adland can best get to grips with giving clients the latest in digital, while campaigning for the wow factor spawned by good old-fashioned insights, ideas and traditional media. IAPI president and Publicis director Jimmy Murphy has spoken out on what changes adland needs to make.

While addressing a recent International Women's Day seminar, Murphy said advertising must lead Irish business by being at the vanguard of diversity and inclusion. While advertising was once a haven for non-traditional people where differences were a plus, it now lags behind the seismic changes now evident in Irish society.

Last year, Dynamo's deputy MD, Charlotte Barker and Fiona Field, deputy MD at Mediaworks, joined the IAPI board, bringing its female members to five out of 11. The last IAPI census showed that 52pc of staff in IAPI member agencies were female, but women only held one of five senior roles.

Paid maternity leave was a problem for many years, but has greatly improved. Undoubtedly, IAPI's top initiative has been Adfx, which Tania Banotti did so much to nurture during her time as the institute's CEO. What started out as adland's way of being accountable and justifying budgets, graduated into valued learnings for clients.

The last IAPI census showed that only six per cent of the 1,800 or so people in adland are over the age of 51. It's partly down to the number of people who left the business during the recession and didn't return. But Murphy believes there's an unconscious bias at play. Data analysis is an in-demand skill, but when it comes to hiring, adland lost out to other sectors.

Among those charged with shaping IAPI's future with a new mission statement are Core's Alan Cox; Ray Sheerin, Chemistry; Jill Byrne, Rothco; Dentsu Aegis's Liam McDonnell; Jason Nebenzahl, PHD; and Jonathan Forrest, In the Company of Huskies. Former McConnells MD and UCD lecturer John Fanning is also lending his considerable expertise.

The winners of Adfx 2018 will be announced in the RDS on Thursday, September 27.

The awarding of the rebranding of Limerick to M&C Saatchi prompted a generous amount of media coverage. RTÉ Radio 1's 'Drivetime' show latched on to the London agency's ties with Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party campaigns. Irish Independent political writer and Limerick man John Dowling compared the rebrand to Guinness Light, and its 'They said it could never be done' slogan, to which some observers added "… and they were right".

While M&C Saatchi has a recent history of handling major brand campaigns for destinations worldwide, some Irish branding agencies may feel a little hard done by in not being offered a shot at the contract.

As expected, Liberty Global has gone with Richard Branson's distinctive Virgin Media red in bidding farewell to TV3's purple patch in rolling out Virgin Media TV. Publicis and Mindshare combined to create an out of home campaign over three cycles.

An in-house team at Virgin TV produced channel idents and bumpers, plus a feature-length promo with stars superimposed on well-known landmarks.

Lifeforce wholefood is to sponsor this weekend's Vitality Expo in Dublin's RDS. The event is presented by Health Stores Ireland and INM Events, with 160 exhibitors showcasing products. Speakers include British nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville and Sunday Independent health and wellness columnist Alison Canavan.

And finally... Diageo is rolling out a new draught and canned lager called Carlsberg Unfiltered. Marketing manager Alan McAleenan says the brand extension is a cloudy pilsner with the filtration removed during brewing to enhance taste. Will we soon see TV ads with Carlsberg ambassador Mads Mikkelsen return in his armchair in a Danish woodland setting, explaining what unfiltered means? Probably.

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