CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/KINSALE - Socialising and youngsters were Kinsale's noticeable features

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.