I visited Blackrock this week

I visited Blackrock this week. My first view in a while of the long dipping main street strewn with highbrow establishments such as The Wicked Wolf and the wafting of shampoo fumes from one of the twenty one hairdressers burning my eye balls – I must say it was a delight to be back. As a 2010 / 2011 MBA graduate of Smurfit, the waft of cash burning a hole through the pockets of my D&G carrot chinos while I waded over the slew of board chairmen shouting job offers at me outside Supermacs on Blackrock main street did give me a little reminder that I am pretty much as good as it gets when it comes to business in Ireland. And then I walked into a pole and woke up.

The last few months have been interesting. I have met some amazing people, in marketing, retail, sales, manufacturing, product design and event management. These people are getting on with it. They are making the best of a crippled market and using innovative thinking and creativity to get ahead.

The most impressive individual I have met is a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in probably five years, Gavin Downes. Gav, a marketing graduate of Smurfit from back in the day is a director at Modern Green, one of the most advanced Experiential Marketing agencies in Europe. Their award winning campaigns for O2 and Heineken have ensured that they attract serious talent and have an absolute blast while doing it. Their pool table, turntable, vinyl records, dog friendliness, barber on a Tuesday, fun office is a joy to visit and the welcome everyone gets is part of who they are. Modern Green are open to ideas and dedicated to turning these good ideas into measureable brand experiences for clients.

As a converted experiential marketer I have had the fortune to engage MG recently to partner with me on approaching a major international brand about what I saw as their ineffective brand strategies in Ireland and to impress on them the need to change them. You see, Experiential Marketing (XM) allows customers to engage and interact with brands in sensory ways that provide the icing on the cake of providing information. Personal experiences help people connect to a brand and make intelligent and informed purchasing decisions. People remember experiences, and this drives sales. Gavin has a great saying, “it’s like telling someone who has never tasted chocolate what chocolate tastes like and expecting them to appreciate the experience.”

The growth of XM is very important. Last week I attended Experiential Marketing Ireland’s (XMI) first session. It was a mix of Ted Talks, a gig and a Damien McLoughlin lecture -very interesting and entertaining. About 100 agency and media people attended. It was hosted by GD, and there was some cool stuff discussed around billboards that communicate individually with consumers, Jay Z’s staggering multimillion dollar book launch, Bud’s weather thing that polarised the panel and innovative thinking by Brando.ie. The main point from this symposium was, value your own work. Ireland is one of the top media and marketing nations in the world. We have the most creative and innovative people working in marketing in Ireland, all of whom are only a phone call away and we should be proud of them and proud of ourselves.

So there is hope, keep positive, keep bashing out ideas, all you need is one.


–  Colin Barry, FT MBA 2010/2011

(PS I’m promoting this Macklemore and Ryan Lewis gig on the 21st of October -buy tickets and come, there is a Smurfit MBA connection with one of the performing artists!!).

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