The challenges facing the Irish Advertising and Marketing industry

Challenges Ahead* We have more tools at our disposal now than ever before to reach, connect and communicate with consumers and the biggest challenge is to ensure that we campaign a single minded idea through all of the channels and devices available.

* The next challenge is that there’s too much time spent focusing on the myriad of technology and distribution channels than on the content we’re waving on behalf of our clients at the consumer. There appears to be a school of thought that how you connect with people is more important than what you say – it’s easy to forget that the message takeout and feel is more important than the distribution vehicle. It’s creativity that differentiates and builds relationships not technology. Marketeers that can harness and straddle that bridge are the ones that will succeed.

* Then there’s Mobile which appears to be the next Holy Grail but what is it: ad optimization, banners, apps, content, txt, social, unsocial, never mind the F word. Yes, people have an unhealthy relationship with their smartphones and tablets but they’re probably grazing on your message rather than dining on it – and it will be all too easy to regard mobile as a novel or shock tactic rather than as part of a long term sustainable brand building campaign.

* So all the talk and time spent on appearing to integrate silos, bunkers, platforms, teams is good but it’s not what our business is about. Creating or generating great ideas to drive a brand or service is. Too many marketeers are afraid of missing out and try too broad a range of things at a surface level rather than create the impact for their CVs by doing one or two things well.

* Data overload. Clients want clear cost effective measurable and accountable routes to their consumers and there is now a surfeit of data that would clog the arteries of any super computer in the Media budget allocation and Creative evaluation process though we look forward to the long awaited holostic Advertising research. Don’t forget that gut feel and instinct on the best channel for an idea can outweigh the rationale of the smartest statistician.

* The economy. There are signs of budgets recovering in Britain and the recent signs of bouyancy, particularly on Outdoor, in this market are encouraging but there will be no swift fix as this austerity ridden economy results in more austerity and retarded recovery. Commercial realities and expectations in terms of quality, production values, delivery, value for money have reduced or increased depending on how your fortunes have been favoured. The economic climate has ‘rationalized’ an entire industry.

* The challenge has been how to survive and prosper.  And it’s understandable, perhaps, that surviving the ‘order of the boot’ – as one customer put it to me when asked about a bland sponsorship sting – is far more important than surviving the debate for a good campaign. A great creative idea can drive sales and generate a sustainable media budget, not the other way round.

* We provide insight and develop relevant strategies and campaigns to motivate your consumer and add value to your brand. That’s our challenge.

* Louis McConkey is Chairman of KDNINE a lean, results oriented, communications agency

* This article was first published in IMJ’s Agency issue August 2013

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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?