Attending Kinsale's annual advertising festival has an air of going
back to school. Not only is it in the first weekend of September, but
the cool kids are hanging about in town, smoking and drinking in
cliques, while the geeks turn up to the official events with sharpened
pencils and shiny delegate badges.
This year, even with official delegate numbers slashed by a third to
just over 200, the small Irish port was heaving with production company
and agency staff.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the industry's troubles with job
losses, agency closures and the demise of the dotcom didn't exist, had
you been in any of the town's bars and clubs in the early hours. Leo
Burnett's contingent topped 30 at one point, despite the fact that only
three were enrolled as official delegates.
There was, in fact, a distinct lack of London agency folk on the
dwindling delegate list. However, the number of entries for the actual
competition was up. The organisers also unveiled a new category - the
new director's award - which was won by the Aardman director Darren
Walsh for his animated character Angry Kid.
The importance of this youthful focus was summed up by the festival's
chairman, Gerry Kennedy, an executive at the Dublin-based agency
McConnells Ireland. Speaking at the delegate voting session (the only
event which attracted more than 60 people), he said: "It is important
that we give a voice to the new directors. They're going to be the
lifeblood of the industry - some of them already are."
A clearer focus on the youngsters of adland should kick in next year,
when Kennedy and the rest of the voluntary committee plan more seminars
and workshops aimed at engaging the young creatives and directors found
propping up the bar at The White Lady at four in the morning - and
persuading them to attend events.
The festival's nod to a formal structure - apart from the endless
lunches and suppers fuelled by pints of the black stuff - came in a
morning seminar headed by John Hunt, the festival juror and creative
director of the South African agency Hunt Lascaris TBWA.
The awards were decided by a jury which included Hunt, the DDB Chicago
chairman and US chief creative officer, Bob Scarpelli, the chief
executive of the Irish agency Think & Son, Eoghan Nolan, the
Amsterdam-based Lowe Lintas copywriter Jeroen Ragas, the Saatchi &
Saatchi creative Eddie Robinson (standing in for the executive creative
director, Dave Droga) and the freelance copywriter Gai Griffin.
When announcing Mother's Grand Prix television award for its QTV
campaign, Hunt claimed that the jurors had not clashed once in doling
out the prizes.
"We all had a clear idea of the kind of creative work we want to see
more of," he said. "Never as much as now does the work have to reflect
the growing cynicism of consumers while remaining streets ahead in terms
of the creative idea."
This was backed up by the total domination of the radio category by DDB
Chicago's "Real American heroes" campaign for Bud Light. Its creator,
Vinnie Warren, explained that the brand's ability to parody its audience
allowed it to speak to consumers with a new, more intimate voice: "It
takes the 'whassup?' TV campaign on, taking the same tone, and invites
people to bond further with the Budweiser brand."
Fine strategic talk, which translated perfectly on to the streets of
Kinsale, where the bond between adland and alcohol continued well into
the small hours.