Are young men the real victims of the Economic war?

One of our female colleagues was out on the town last Saturday night for dinner, drinks and a dance. She noticed that 70% of the pub was female…80% of the restaurant and 90% of the nightclub. An odd scene which she described as feeling like living in Dublin after all the men were killed in a war. This may be due to emigration, levels of disposable income, the decline of male industries like construction, printing etc. but whatever the reason such a disproportionate gender balance will have profound repercussions for the dating game. Worse than that the only men in uniform are Gardai and Traffic Wardens.

Great Sporting Yawns

If anyone was unfortunate enough to catch the GAA football semi-final between Dublin and Donegal you will know what we mean by great sporting yawns. Unfortunately for everyone concerned TV sport needs audiences to get sponsorship and advertising revenue, the debacle  on Sunday is not likely to bring people flocking back to the game.

Maybe it was a once off but we think certain member’s of the Croke Park management will be slightly unnerved.

Put em under pressure…

We are delighted to announce our client Ricesteele, Rubex product sponsorship of Put em under pressure the new launch RTE sports quiz where pundits take on sports stars in a fun contest hosted by Grainne Seoige.

Pictured on set during recording of the show in RTE (left to right) Garrett Kinsella Account Planner KDNINE, Grainne Seoige Presenter, Bernard McCormick Marketing Manager Ricesteele and Geraldine O’Leary Commercial Director RTE Television.

We predicted a riot


Whatever the motivations behind the current chaos in Britain it would be in our considered opinion unwise for Ireland to think that we are far away from similar conflict.

In fact in our KDNINE insights booklet for 2011 (available free on our website) we predicted large scale civil unrest as early as November last year.

This was based on the growing anger we encounter in focus group research nationwide particularly among younger people.

The potential for conflict comes when this anger is channeled around an event or sparking point. The general sense of injustice is growing and the Irish state apparatus is rightly or wrongly seen to be firstly concerned with defending the rich and the economically disastrous status quo.

What is particularly disturbing from a marketing point of view in the UK is that the anger is often turned against certain brands who are seen to represent big business or globalisation.  So in some ways the riots are an attack on Brands and what they represent. So when the Irish rioters approach perhaps best not to hide in Starbucks or AIB.

Management tools

Some sites we like aimed at making us all better managers and more successful corporate citizens.
The good news is they are free so how good is that.
Visit for weekly pod casts to make managers more effective.
Then try for tips to make workplaces more enjoyable.
To improve creative output try Fora TV.
Hopefully after that there is still time to do some work.

Summertime Blues Cured

I know its a time of year when a lot of marketing and advertising folk are away but is it just me or is there a slight sign of a little bit of an upturn in the advertising activity. Studios seem a little busier… photographers are working…there are even a few TV ads being made in the bright sunshine. As an industry can we for once dare to dream of a better future?

The Future of Advertising

Take the current general economic collapse out of the scenario and it is my contention that the advertising industry would still be in crisis. Not just in Ireland but possibly all over the world, The problem with Ireland is that we are leading the decline because of our basket case finances and corrupt political legacy.


To cut to the 400 word chase most creative agencies big and small are struggling to adapt to new media or more importantly to see a future where there is enough money to be made from servicing its incessant demand for content and expensive employees.


The media buying business probably still 80% of all advertising spend is now one where all major advertising accounts move between 4 or 5 giant agency groups. They make their money from handing money and back end deals so there is not much room left for a full service model.


So in this scenario there is always an unsightly mill for what is left over. Digital agencies make outrageous claims without case studies, research or long term trends to back them up. Some clients believe them! The current obsession with incentivising retailers has helped  only below the line and promotions agencies communicate more Sales and more Offers.


Brand marketing teams are being withdrawn from Ireland to the UK like fighter pilots on the eve of the fall of France.

So what does the future hold, well here a few of my Mystic Megs:


  1. The digital bubble will burst and become once again an exciting and potentially  game changing brand medium without the current set of religious nuts who represent it.
  2. The focus will move back to understanding consumer behavior and dark arts like Account Planning, Research, Trendspotting and Tracking…remember them.
  3. Pitch doctors  will shortlist an agency that wasn’t founded in 1916,,,only joking this will never happen.
  4. Big creative ideas will be back in vogue in all media.
  5. Advertising people will be once again well paid, respected, admired and held in regard by brand owners (see end point no 3)


But all of that aside perhaps it is a time for the Irish advertising industry to realise that we have (at least some of us so far) survived the greatest recession in irish history. We should not be too hard on ourselves but instead to paraphrase the advice on my coffee mug “Keep Calm and Carry on”. Never was so much owed by so many to so few…just look at that Knorr shake in the bag TV ad…what more do you want…Blood?

The Elephant in the Boardroom

fmcg, marketing, advertising,I have a thing about Private Label, we work in an industry that relies on getting a contribution from branded sales. Brands are not just taking a hammering from Retail Trading Negotiators seeking even greater discounts while maintaining net margins, but also by PL; as mentioned earlier it is reckoned that almost 30% of all grocery lines by 2012 will be own-brand. Tesco currently says own label accounts for 40%.

Private Label is invidious, it does not innovate, it imitates. It would appear unjust to Manufacturers who put in the hard yards and need successes to keep doing so. But Multiples are getting better and quicker at getting their versions to shelves alongside the brand leaders. These “cheaper alternatives” mostly inferior, would appear to be the right brand for these difficult times. Why?

Because Own Label is cheaper and consumers are now conditioned to believe they should sacrifice quality for price despite the fact that brands in a scramble to maintain a declining share have been reducing their prices and spending their budgets on promotional footfall for the Retailers and not investing in equity building brand activity.

Because Retailers increasingly view their Customer as being a loyal shopper to the name over the door rather than the brands which invest in R&D, NPD, Category Management, Brand Research & Support etc. and have tried to achieve a higher gross margin by pandering to an own label in their quest to differentiate themselves from their Retail competitors.

Because Manufacturers too have let themselves be dictated to by these Retailers – and in some cases their own Distributors – to join the race to the bottom and capitulate in eroding their margins and thus the contribution to ensuring the consumer remains loyal to their brand.

One notable brand I admire is Red Bull for maintaining – and being able to sustain – a premium pricing across all channels which affords substantial brand support which in turn perpetuates demand which ensures premium pricing and so on.

Another lays down a marker to expectant wannabes. The new campaign for Bird’s Eye “100% Polar Bear” neatly makes space in your freezer for Bird’s Eye Peas, Fish Fingers and Chicken Dippers and also deftly takes a swipe at Private Label.

Focussed, well produced – some say menacing – work featuring the voice of Willem Dafoe, the TV spots justify a premium positioning and pricing strategy as well as communicating the quality of the product offering. I’m quite sure the Polar Bear gives good ole Captain Bird’s Eye the boot, although he’s still on the fish fingers pack, and drags the brand into the new decade. It’s also great confident brand equity building stuff, not tricky at all, which will also drive footfall to the freezer cabinets in Retail and keep the Grocery Trade happy as well as boosting sales. It might just help keep private label advancing in the freezer.