Oh no, not media school?

This year I was lucky enough to go to the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity for the first time. I was all set for the week-long Account Leadership Academy and (nerd alert) excited to get insights from like-minded people from all over the world. Unfortunately, three weeks before I was due to leave, my course was cancelled and I was offered a place at the Media Academy instead. Panic ensued… CPC, RTB Programmatic and DSP’s – WTF came to mind. All was not lost though. After speaking to the Dean of the Media Academy I was reassured a broad slice of the marketing world would be represented.

And so it began. Our class was broken up into teams and assigned to soak up all we could from the speakers and workshops throughout the week. We were then asked to present our take on ‘What is Media Now’ and discuss our point of view on how the industry is being shaped. It was difficult to summarise a week’s worth of information into a ten-minute presentation but we gave it a go. And as it so happens, I have the main points below for your pleasure.

Big Robots are coming, but we’re not afraid

Media is changing. Constantly. ‘Brands are spending more money on campaigns, but their clients need them to be that much more effective.’  ‘The media environment is becoming increasingly cluttered’ – some of the things we heard all week. It can be daunting to look to the future when we’re not really 100% sure of what is coming down the line but the one thing that will remain constant is US, the talent which makes up our industry.

“I welcome our Robot Overlords” – Mike Barret, President of Heat

“I welcome our Robot Overlords” – Mike Barret, President of Heat

We are insightful

We heard from some of the leaders within the digital industry and were introduced to a panel who discussed how big data is shaping societal change. And how it is going to be one of the biggest forces of change we will see in our lifetimes. They spoke about how digital advertising is growing up – especially with the introduction of programmatic. We have an unprecedented amount of data about consumers, their behaviors, their emotions and all the various aspects of their lives. It is up to us to take this data, link it together and create campaigns which genuinely make an impact. Data can only deliver so much; the rest is up to us (btw I still don’t know what RTB Programmatic means).

John Snyder, CEO, Grapeshot

“The art is turning the data that is streaming towards us into great insights.”

We are reactive

There was so much opportunity throughout the week to get insights both in and out of the classroom and I jumped at the chance. (What? I gave you a nerd alert earlier).

I got chatting to a Media Executive from Starcom Australia about AI and technology making our lives easier, she had this great line: “If the world is perfect, there’s no room for mistakes. And mistakes are where creativity is born”

Technology aims to make our lives perfect, to free up our time. But if the world was completely perfect there would never be any mistakes. It reminded us of the Cannes award winning work by Hershey’s. Back in 2015, Reese’s Christmas trees became a viral hit, but not for the right reasons. Customers took to social media to ridicule them and hashtags such as #ChristmasTurd began trending. Thankfully, Reese’s social media team knew how to shut down haters. They embraced how shit (pun intended) the trees looked and started a campaign to end “tree shaming”. No machine could have seen the trolling and certainly couldn’t have come up with the fun response. Proving that creativity is at its best when it’s human.

Reese's Christmas Tree Campaign

Reese’s Christmas Tree Campaign

We are brave

A big winner of the week was Kraft Heinz’s re-launch of their mac + cheese. They removed all the additives and preservatives but instead of telling everyone about it, they didn’t tell anyone. Their aim was to prove that the product still tasted as good.

Now, we all come from a media or agency background, we know what this brief would have looked like. Re-vamped product – xx million dollars – maximise reach etc. The bravery in the team’s response to that brief. To essentially sit on their hands for three months and let the product do the talking. Not only that, but also the bravery from the marketing team to buy into that approach. Imagine sitting in a board room at a client presentation – and now for the big creative reveal: Do Nothing (shudder).

And it worked – they proved it tasted just as good and the product flew off the shelves and I watched them collect a gold Lion! An algorithm could never have made that decision, because we are brave, we take risks and we are willing to throw out the rule book to achieve great work.

Mac & Cheese


We are Storytellers

Storytelling is at the heart of our industry, for me it’s the most important aspect of my job. It makes the best creative relatable, emotional, and culturally relevant. We heard from Sir Ian McKellan about how the best storytelling strengthens film and Ira Glass has us hooked on the rise of audio and podcast.

As our industry moves forward we are seeing that it’s not just the brands telling stories – they are letting down their barriers and inviting consumers to contribute with their own stories. NASA gave a great talk about how they publicly crowd source solutions and marketing ideas and implement them into their ways of working.

We also heard from Ben Jones, Creative Director of Google, that even in this increasingly cluttered media landscape consumers are still actively seeking out rich long form content. The way we consume media will change but great storytelling will always lie at the heart.

Ben Jones, Creative Director, Google

“We have not become goldfish with a 5 second memory span – 1 billion hours a day are spent on YouTube seeking out content.” – Ben Jones, Creative Director, Google

So what did I learn from my week? Two main take outs from me were:

  • I survived a week in media school and realised marketing solutions, whether they come from a creative, an account person, a client, or a media or technology company, are the end game now!
  • Every speaker said the way we communicate is changing. And this is exciting. But there is a reason over 11,000 delegates have been celebrating creativity for the last 64 years in Cannes and will continue to do so – there is so much passion and energy in the people who work in our industry. Big Robots are coming but we’re not afraid!
My Team - Cannes Media Academy 2017

My Team – Cannes Media Academy 2017


susan nSusan Nelis is an Account Manager with Rothco. 

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An Irish woman in Japan

Having lived in Japan for seven years and worked in Dentsu owned agencies in London for a good few years, I certainly wasn’t a complete stranger to Japan or Japanese working culture when I was given the opportunity to transfer to Dentsu HQ from mcgarrybowen London back in May 2015. I had also visited the rather impressive Mothership building on business many times over the years, but I don’t think I could ever have been fully prepared for the experience of working (as the only Irish woman in the building!) full time here in Dentsu Inc. HQ.

It’s really been an amazing experience so far and a continuous learning curve, however here are some of the main differences in agency life in Japan I’ve found most surprising.

Shiodome HQ

Shiodome HQ

Dentsu is big. It’s the largest advertising agency in Japan by far and the fifth largest network in the world. The Shiodome HQ building is huge with Dentsu occupying 45 of the 48 floors. There are more than 70 shuttle elevators and approximately 6,000 Dentsu employees (including around 1,000 creatives) working here. The fact that there are more people working in this building every day than there were in the medium sized Irish town I grew up in, still astounds me. It takes me about 5 minutes (and one lift change) to get to my desk in the morning, along with the many other employees rushing to get in through the flapper gate before the 9.30am bell rings, with several uniformed security guards greeting us all good morning. It’s a world away from strolling in to mcgarrybowen London with my morning latte sometime around 9 every morning and can sometimes still feel a bit surreal.

Within the company building and its annex Carretta Shiodome there’s the Advertising Museum Tokyo, a theatre, shops and restaurants open to the public. We also have a clinic for Dentsu employees. I can see a doctor, get my prescription and be back at my desk within 20 minutes – having a clinic within the office building still kind of blows my mind!

In terms of the working environment, mcgarrybowen London is a creative agency, with about 80 employees all working closely together in a very relaxed and informal environment. The office surroundings in Dentsu are a lot more formal and it definitely took a while to get used to the lack of music and chatter around me. That’s not to say my colleagues are unfriendly – it’s just that most of the ‘banter’ tends to take place over a few drinks outside of the office!

Another difference that I’ve found fascinating working here is that Dentsu is so much more than just an ad agency – with a huge variety of disciplines and capabilities available under the Dentsu umbrella. Apart from the obvious media, creative, strategy and account management departments, Dentsu is also very strong in areas such as sports marketing, entertainment and even character development, to name but a few.

I work in one of the twenty one Account Management Divisions. Within our division there are about 130 employees, split in to client teams. Most people tend to work on only one client brand and can do so for many years, although the company does try to move people every few years or so across departments and sometimes even disciplines.

With such a diverse range of client accounts held by Dentsu, firewalling has to be pretty strict within the building and each employee’s pass will only allow him or her in to certain floors. The vast number of elevators is also to help keep employees working on competitive client business apart. There’s also a sign in all of the elevators advising people to stay stum for their journey, which still makes me smile!

There is a Strategic Planning Department and Creative Department assigned to each Account Management Department / Client so we usually do work with the same planning and creatives, however as they sit on completely different floors work-related conversations tend to be more formal and organized. Also, as creatives are all employed individually (mainly as grads) rather than as pairs, the make up of the creative team will often change per project. Having said that, we are not limited to working with only these departments and depending on the requirement of the job we can choose to work with any other department or person with the right skill set.

Despite the size and scale of the building, there are only a few production / art working facilities within the building and some things are outsourced. However, most of the main production houses do have offices within walking distance of the Shiodome Building. This means that production companies are often involved from the very early stages and work really closely with the creative and account management teams.

Relationships – Clients

Relationships are important in any country, but even more so in Japan where business can tend to be relationship rather than transaction based. A trusting relationship with the long time to build, but in Dentsu the client relationship is everything and a lot of effort is put in to building and maintaining a strong, long lasting relationship. Dentsu looks at client business from a long term point of view and this longevity of relationship is something that is not only greatly valued by the client, but which also creates value overall.

For example, my boss has been working on the same client business for almost 20 years and as most of the clients are also company lifers, many of the senior clients have known him since he was a fresh-faced grad himself. They’ve been through a lot together, he understands their business extremely well and with that comes a huge amount of trust and respect.

The company is known for taking a very holistic approach to building long term client relationships and with the diverse range of capabilities Dentsu can offer, client’s expectations often go beyond standard creative or media agency work.

I remember being really surprised when I moved here first and ordered my business card.
When ordering cards we can choose our preferred colour out of a hundred ‘Dentsu colours’, as the only Irish person in the building I of course chose green! However, when my cards were delivered a colleague advised me that I should also order a set of white cards to use when I may have to help out with a client or client’s family member funeral. Pretty morbid but client servicing to the extreme!


It’s well known here in Japan that since July 1925, as part of their induction Dentsu has been sending all of their new employees to climb Mount Fuji, the highest peak in Japan. From the summit each employee will send a postcard to their client and pray for Dentsu and the clients’ prosperity!


Having said all of this, although clients will value their long term relationships with Dentsu, they also enjoy relationships with other competitor agencies. Most clients prefer not to give any one agency all of their business so will spread out the projects across several different agencies. Also, in order to avoid being perceived to be favourable to any one agency, pitches can be called quite frequently, which means that even with a close relationship there’s always an element of competition and risk.

Relationships – Internal

Relationships within the agency are also extremely important. These can of course come from working together as a team, but as employees are often transferred across departments and disciplines this can also help build up a network within the company – which is so important in a company the size of Dentsu.

What interests me most is the importance of the relationship between ‘Douki’ or employees who have joined the company as graduates at the same time. Douki join the company on April 1st and then go through a long orientation period together before being assigned to different divisions and often locations. They will be very close coming out of their orientation period, and this special relationship and camaraderie continues throughout their career at Dentsu and beyond and provides them with a strong network or almost family type connections within the company.

Dentsu also has a mentoring programme in place for graduates. The group of graduates (around 150) will be split into groups and each group will be assigned a ‘leader’ and ‘sub leader’ who will act as mentors to support and coach the graduates during their orientation period. To demonstrate their commitment to the development of these new grads, the Leader and Sub Leader, will give up their evenings and often their weekends for a four-week period, where they take them out for dinner to discuss the training from that day, to introduce them to other Dentsu teams and support their transition from student to professional life. A really strong, lasting bond also comes from this Leader / Sub Leader relationship, but what I find most impressive about it is that the mentors volunteer to take part in this programme even though it requires a huge time commitment and sometimes financial commitment on their part. When I’ve asked why I’ve been told that it’s something they really valued from their time as a grad and they want to pass on the kindness and support they received to the younger generation. Which I think shows the value of and effort put into relationships here.

So, as I enter my third year here at Dentsu HQ, I still encounter many differences that surprise me. Some seriously impress me while others can be somewhat frustrating – but that’s what makes life here so interesting. I think the important thing to remember when living or working in a different culture, especially one as different as Japan, is that you shouldn’t expect things to be the same. Just because something is different from what you’re used to, doesn’t mean it’s wrong and there’s usually a good, often cultural reason for it – although this can sometimes take a little while to understand!

Susan LawlorSusan Lawlor is a Business Director with Dentsu Japan.

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Meet Team Ireland

header22017 marks a historic year for the Irish Young Lions competition. For the first time in the festival’s 64 year history, IAPI is bringing 14 Young Lions to Cannes to represent Ireland on the global stage.

Celebrating the best creative work in the world, the Cannes Lions Festival will take place from 17 – 24 June with an estimated 19,000 delegates in attendance.  Winning at this festival puts creatives among the world’s elite with a globally recognised accolade.

Our Young Lions will be competing in seven categories; Film, Cyber, Media, Print, PR, Design and Young Marketers.

Film Team – Conor Hamill & Laura Cahill, Rothco

Film TeamConor is a Junior Producer at Rothco. He has written and directed short films, and produced at ad agencies in Dublin and San Francisco. Laura is an in-house Producer at Rothco. She studied Digital Media at Maynooth University and has produced live action and animated work for clients such as Tesco, AIB and Heineken.

“It’s a massive privilege to be competing at Cannes this year. The global talent is second to none. With that in mind we’re fully aware that it could be a long time before we get to attend the festival again so we plan to soak everything up.

IAPI have put a huge amount of work and time into ensuring that Team Ireland will have its biggest ever presence at this years Cannes Young Lions competition. To help us perform at our best, IAPI have set us an exciting and admittedly intense few weeks of training in the run up to the festival. We’re very thankful to them and for the generosity of this years sponsors.”

Cyber Team – Patricia Prezotto and Tamara Conyngham, Target McConnells

CyberTamara is a Strategic Planner with Target McConnells. She started her career working part time for the experiential marketing agency Modern Green while studying Business and Economics in Trinity.

Patricia joined the Digital Experience and Performance team in April 2016 as a Digital Project Manager. She holds a BA in International Relations and has over nine years experience in digital development and a huge passion for technology.

“The Irish Young Lions competition has already been a great experience. The creative process was tough and the brief challenging but all the effort was so worth it. It is a huge achievement for us and we can’t even explain how excited we are. I know it will be intense and the pressure will be on but we will do our best to bring home the gold for Ireland.”

Media Team – Sarah Dennehy & Greg Ashe, Starcom


Greg joined Starcom in 2015 after spending just over a year in media consulting. He graduated from UCC having studied Commerce, followed by an MA in Information Systems for Business Performance (ISBP). Predominantly working on the AIB Bank account as part of the planning team, he has worked on AIB’s award-winning sponsorship of the All Ireland Football championship, as well as the launch of Android Pay into the Irish market.

Sarah began her studies in DCU with BA International Business with French & Spanish. She then went on to complete a Masters in Digital Marketing in DCU leading to a marketing role for the non-profit organisation Dogs Trust. She made the move into the media industry with her role as a Digital Planner in Starcom and currently works across some of Ireland’s leading brands including AIB & the Musgrave Group.

“We found the competition challenging but infinitely rewarding. We had the opportunity to work with a remarkable cause and create a campaign that challenges social norms in the increasingly online world that we live in today. We were ecstatic to have been chosen to represent Ireland on the world stage in Cannes and can’t wait to experience all that the festival has to offer.“

Print Team – Raf Ferla and Laura Halpin, Havas Dublin

PrintRaf is an Art Director with 10 years of experience in the advertising world and worked in six large agencies in his native Brazil before moving to Dublin.

Laura is a Copywriter, Flash Fiction editor of Into the Void Magazine and Irish Film Young Lions Winner 2016.

“We’re over the moon to have won the Print competition this year. Mental health is an issue that touches every single one of us and we’re delighted to have the chance to contribute something to the great work Jigsaw does every day. We also can’t wait to get to Cannes, we’ll be putting everything into the 24hr Print competition…and then as many talks, workshops, and networking events as we can possibly squeeze in!”

PR Team – Emma Williams and Jennifer Hyland, Edelman


Following completion of an MA in Public Relations, DIT, Emma joined Edelman in June 2011 as an Account Executive. She quickly rose through the ranks to the position of Associate Director and now leads the day-to-day operations of Edelman’s award-winning Brand team.

Jennifer graduated from DCU with an MSc in Digital Marketing. She worked as a Digital Marketing Research Assistant in the Marketing Lab; an initiative designed to accelerate startup businesses and SMEs into the digital marketing landscape. In 2013, Jennifer was recruited by Edelman as a Senior Account Executive. During her 3 years, Jennifer has contributed hugely to the fast growth of the Digital team and now sits as Account Director leading many high-profile accounts.

“The Irish Young Lions competition was an exciting opportunity for us as it was the first year of the PR category in Ireland. We have worked together across several client accounts over the last number of years however this was a completely new challenge and one we really enjoyed. It was rewarding to work on a brief that could have real impact in Ireland today.”

Design Team – Emma Wilson and Kyle Schouw, RichardsDee


Emma is a Senior Designer and has been with RichardsDee since 2014. She holds a BA in Visual Communications from IADT and has extensive experience with branding and design for print.

Kyle joined RichardsDee as a Brand and Digital Designer in 2016. He has over 5 years experience working on a diverse range of projects for FMCG clients and international fashion brands.

“Young Lions has been a fantastic experience for us. After winning in our category we started preparations for the rollercoaster that will be Cannes. We’ve been in ‘design training’, so to speak (!); practicing 24-hour briefs, soaking up inspiration at D&AD, and deep-diving into past competition topics. We are beyond thrilled to be competing on behalf of our country in Cannes at such an internationally renowned and prestigious event.”

Young Marketers Team – Rachael Crawley & Paddy Carberry, Vodafone


Rachael is a Brand & Communications Lead currently working on ATL and BTL campaigns for Vodafone’s mass segments bill pay and pay, as well as their Networks. She studied Marketing, Innovation and Technology in DCU. Paddy is a Sponsorship Specialist and also attended DCU gaining a BA in Irish & journalism and an MSc in Management.

“From brief to final results the competition really kept us on our toes. There was an air of nervous excitement in the briefing room on the first day, as it was the first time Ireland has sent ‘Young Marketers’ to Cannes. The prospect of winning a trip to Cannes and being able to witness the best of advertising at a global level was thrilling.

The brief itself really challenged us and forced us to think outside of what was the norm. I really enjoyed working over the three weeks on this project with Paddy as it gave us a chance to be really innovative in our thinking. We were working on the presentation up until the very last minute and relied a lot on our adrenaline to keep us going!”

Team Ireland will be travelling to Cannes on 16 June, with the first competition kicking off on 18 June. Keep up to date on Team Ireland’s progress via IAPI’s Twitter.

The Young Lions Competition wouldn’t be possible without our generous sponsors.


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Design Young Lions soaking up D&AD Festival 2017


This April, IAPI sent me on a journey to the hipster capital of the world, Shoreditch, to check out the D&AD Festival and soak up some inspiration from some industry greats and get in the zone for the upcoming Cannes Young Lions competition in June. The festival, in its second year, boasts some of the design and advertising industry’s most well regarded thinkers and doers, discussing world issues, challenges facing the design community, advances in technology and what that means for the industry, and many other themes centred around how design and creative thinking can be used to enrich the world and make it a greater place to live.

This year, each day of the festival was themed. Day one’s theme was ‘The Earth Will Shake’, which asked how design can help to create positive social change in a world constantly in flux, and create more sustainable futures for us all. Day two’s theme was ‘Staring at The Sun’, looking at advancements in technology, new trends in working styles and how we can predict future trends and innovate in a transforming sector. And finally, day three, ‘Outrageous Magic’, which saw the industry’s superstars showcase and discuss their work and processes, explaining their craft and discussing how ‘big ideas’ are developed.

After an ungodly early flight from Dublin Airport and a few trains, I finally made it to the festival in The Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, just in time to join the world’s longest line for coffee (at least 35 people!), and get stuck in to what was to be my favourite day of the festival, Tuesday’s ‘The Earth Will Shake’.

For me personally, this day was awe inspiring. Centred around themes of designing for good and how we can use our skills to create real social change in a world filled with adversity and strife, I saw how design and creative thinking can be at the core of social movements, and can be a facilitator for true activism, disruption and agitation. Here I will discuss some of the highlights from Tuesday’s delights.


The first talk I made it to was Steve Vranakis of Google Creative Lab discussing the subject of ‘Creative Activism’ (How lucky was I!). Steve spoke passionately about the value of technology as a democratising force, and as one that allows people to channel their creativity and apply themselves. In essence, that tech empowers people. Steve asked the question, how can we use technology to empower people who have less than we do? He explained that creatives have the perfect skill set for this as storytellers and problem solvers, that we are capable of more than just selling, and that we can be creative activists and practice altruism, everyday.

He outlined some projects he developed at Google in which he utilised creative thinking to tackle some real societal problems, such as; creating adaptable apps to help refugees when they land on shore; giving a voice to youth in the highest ranks of government by creating a ‘youth assembly’ installation of children’s comments in the chambers of the UN; and enabling women in rural India to empower themselves and share skills with each other by creating a system whereby internet access can be brought to friends on bicycles. An incredible spread of work that showcases the power of creativity as a tool for good in the face of adversity.


Another highlight of Tuesday was Designer and Creative Director, Craig Oldham, of The Office of Craig Oldham’s ‘Tools for Protest’ talk in which he outlined the ways in which people can react and have reacted creatively to times of hardship. In his talk Craig used local and international examples to illustrate the key tools of: Repurposing, Reclamation, Distillation, Empathy and Building. These ranged from everyday people’s creative reactions to the UK Miner’s Strikes of the the 1980s, powerful campaigns created in the midst of the AIDS crisis in 1980s America, the Czech Republic’s Velvet Revolution, and emphasising the importance of women in building activist movements, such as anti-nuclear war groups and against such things as austerity cuts and Donald Trump.

Craig’s talk showcased the idea that people in hardship turn to creativity as a problem solving tool, and good creative ideas are powerful tools for sparking discussion, empowering people, and creating real change. He suggested that at the core of all successful social movements is a simple creative idea that can be co-opted, universally understood and used by many people in an open way to send a strong message.

While Oldham and Vranakis were the personal highlights of Tuesday, fantastic and challenging work was shown by Mike Rigby of R/GA NY. Big thumbs up for the AskForARaise Cindy Gallop chat bot that encourages women to ask for a raise at work, and their John Cena #LoveHasNoLabels advert that challenged traditional ideas of American patriotism.

One of the most interesting points that arose from Tuesday’s sessions was the fact that sustainable brands turn over twice as much revenue as their unsustainable counterparts. This statistic shows that brands must make the switch to sustainability or face being left behind in a changing marketplace. This fact was echoed in multiple talks over the course of the festival. And so…off I went home on the tube to catch some z’s and ready myself for another intense day of inspiration. Day two’s ‘Staring at the Sun’ theme focused on a changing sector as regards trends and technology and how we can keep up in an industry in flux.

3A highlight of day two for me was Lucie Greene of The Innovation Group discussing ‘The Future of Women’s Interest’. In her talk, Greene outlined trend research pieces that she had worked on that show a bleak future for ‘Women’s Interest’ publications and brands that refuse to acknowledge that the sector is changing, that women are changing, and that they won’t continue to accept content that’s not tailored to suit their own authentic viewpoints.

Greene delved deep into the habits and attitudes of this new generation of women, the products, brands, and advertising they engage and align with, the channels they use, their interests, and their political leanings. Rather than view the world of the ‘average woman’ through the lens of what women’s interest publications (and advertisers) would lead us to believe, Greene’s research showed us what women today really value. Her findings showed that they are consuming media in a more gender-neutral way, with more of a focus on diversity in ages, race and body types featured, focusing on such topics as; intrepid solo travel excursions, opting out of heteronormativity; nutrition over traditional standards of beauty; female-centric pornography; and politics, to name but a few.

Greene showed us what the women’s interest publication of the future might look like, with her publication that she developed with The Innovation Group, ‘Glass’, which incorporated all of her findings. All in all, her talk was inspiring, presenting a generation of women taking the reigns on the content they consume, and forcing brands and advertisers to align to their new ways of thinking, lest they be left behind.

Other points of interest from day two was the fascinating and forensic Dick Powell (of Seymour Powell’s presentation) on designing innovation, and the incredible Anna Higgs of Nowness discussing the value of creative integrity at all costs in the creation of video content to drive true engagement.


On we go to day three! Day three started with a bang, with Pentagram’s Marina Willer discussing ‘Design for Change’, and posing the question “how do you design for a world that’s always in flux?” She outlined ways in which we can design systems that can grow organically in a world that’s chaotic and out of control, how designers are now collaborators co-creating frameworks for things to happen within, and how design agencies now need to change structure to be more agile and flexible in this new chaotic world. She noted that all traditional parameters we’re used to are now disappearing, and we can make personal work as a reaction to this.


Willer then presented her powerful personal film project that she has been developing that centres around the history of her family’s origins through the lens of her father and his experiences as a Jewish WW2 survivor. This, in the midst of all her fantastic and celebrated design work, shows the importance of stopping to develop works that have significance to us, from a wider human, historical and cultural standpoint.


Wieden + Kennedy for Nike Women

I skipped the Stefan Sagmeister love-in this time around, as I’ve witnessed him present at other conferences a few times in recent years, so shockingly, one of my next highlight’s of day three is not him! It’s Colleen DeCourcy, CCO of advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy. Her presentation, titled ‘How to Catch Lightning in a Bottle’ was just that, pure magic. While outlining the ways in which the creative role is changing in a world where technology is democratising traditional infrastructures and giving the lay person access to tools that historically only the rich/affluent had access to, DeCourcy discussed how people who used to have the monopoly on creative ideas and industries (for example, the film industry, the music industry) are now disappearing, and this has lead to a creative renaissance. She proposes that this is the golden age of auteurism, but that people have to take responsibility for what they put out into the world.

This lead to her next point, (which rang very true in light of recent examples, i.e. Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi advert), that was that in advertising and design you must tackle cultural issues head-on, and that you cannot co-opt culture or cultural movements. People are more aware than this, and are ready, willing, and able to call out your bullshit. You can’t tidy up dissent and present it back to people in a neat package, but you can deal with issues and address them in a smarter way that gets to the core of its human meaning. That is where the lightning is. DeCourcy described it as disruptive thinking, scaled. Using examples from her extensive catalogue of unbelievably powerful work, she highlighted these issues by showing how Pepsi could have done it, with integrity, intelligence and raw emotion. Fantastic!

Day three ended the way all good days should, with 8,500 dick pics, courtesy of Erik Kessels of KesselsKramer, always insightful, always hilarious, and with a healthy dash of bizarre genius. To finish, what a fantastic few days! Thanks to IAPI and D&AD for the opportunity to attend, my brain is positively bursting with inspiration, that is no doubt going to fuel me, at least until this time next year. In comparison to other design festivals, D&AD brings the concept to a whole other level, sidestepping the trend of simply showing pretty portfolios, and getting to the core of what lies ahead for the industry and what we as creatives can be doing to make a positive impact in the world, through ideas, collaboration, and graft.


Emma Wilson is one half of the Young Lions Design Team who will represent Ireland in Cannes in June. She is a Senior Designer for RichardsDee.

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Young Lions Experience 2016


IAPI brought six Young Lions to Cannes in 2016. This year we’re running  seven competitions the maximum. We will bring fourteen Young Lions to compete in Cannes in June 2017. Hear what some of our Young Lions had to say about their experience from 2016.

Laura Halpin, Copywriter, Havas Dublin – Film Winner 2016

It’s a week of networking and learning for the global advertising community. And it’s intense. At least that’s what everyone told us. Plan who you want to see, they said. Pace yourselves, they said. So by the time June rolled around, we thought we were ready for it. We thought, how intense could it really be, right?  Holy crap. We spent the days leading up to our competition in a whirlwind. Inspiring talks and workshops during the day and out in the evenings on the rosé train till the wee hours.

Cannes Lions has that amazing festival feeling of camaraderie and openness. There’s a buzz of passion for the industry in the air, everyone’s excited by ideas, everyone’s hungry to learn what’s next in advertising. Meeting people is what it’s all about. We soaked up inspiration from influential speakers on the future of brands, transforming creativity through access, the speed of culture, thinking design, the U.N.’s Global Goals, beauty in advertising, and so much more.

Finally, our purpose at the festival rolled around and we found ourselves in the briefing room – competition time. Sitting there representing Ireland with 40 other global teams around us was nerve-wracking because we knew this was it, the clock had started ticking and the pressure was really on. Our brief from the U.N. was to change commonly held perceptions of refugees. The reality of having only 48 hours with a GoPro in an unfamiliar environment to answer a brief with a finished 60 second TV advert is…well probably exactly as you’d imagine. Extreme! It’s a hell of a creative challenge and a hell of a buzz.

On our return to Dublin, the learning continued as we turned our original winning script from the Irish competition into a reality. It was thrilling to be involved in the whole process, and to see it on the big screen in October. It’s a piece of work we’re proud of and extremely privileged to see realised, especially for the wonderful Peter McVerry Trust.

Johanna Molloy, Account Manager, Vocal – Cyber Winner 2016

In the weeks leading up to the main event, IAPI provided coaching for the competition and prepared us for the intense week ahead. With hundreds of interesting speakers and events happening throughout the Palais, we knew it would be impossible to see everything, so planning our agenda before we went was crucial to ensuring we didn’t miss out on key speakers.

Ciara & Jay

The whole set up of events was beyond belief. The Cannes Lions Festival takes up much of the beach along the promenade. The area is divided into “beach houses” for the many and varied companies attending – the Facebook Beach, the Twitter Beach, the Dentsu Aegis Beach and the YouTube Beach to name a few. Each of the beaches had speakers throughout the day with interactive technologies such as Oculus Rift and 360 videos. With an abundance of complimentary food and beverages provided all day and parties well into the night, there were lots of networking opportunities throughout the week.


The competition itself was intense and exhausting but an experience I will never forget. We had 24 hours to answer our brief in a less than inspiring environment—a white desk and 3 white walls where we had our Irish flag. We gave it our all, but, with extremely stiff competition from 49 other countries, our submission didn’t hit the mark this time. However, it won’t stop us from bringing all we learned to our respective agencies and applying it to work that can compete nationally and internationally.

From incredible speakers, awe-inspiring award shows and top-class entertainment, to conversations with some of the greatest creative minds on the planet, the Cannes Lions Festival is an experience of a lifetime – an event I never thought I would have the opportunity to be part of.

Ciara Harrison, Social Media & Content Manager, Carat – Cyber Winner 2016

Before jetting off, I read that the Cannes Lions Festival was like the Oscars of advertising. After my week there I can honestly say that this comparison holds true. It has been one of the most glamourous and inspiring weeks of my life (so far).

The competition overall was a really amazing experience. I met interesting and like-minded people from every corner of the earth who were just as passionate about ads as I was. The brief itself encouraged me to think outside the box and use social platforms in new ways. Across the board there were a lot of great ideas that could really help the UN with their developmental goals. Although our idea wasn’t the winner on the day, it’s an idea that we have brought home and are looking to share with a local level charity.

Even though the competition was a big part of my experience, it was only for 24 hours, so I had six other days to fill. With so many different events on in the Palais, the days filled up pretty quickly. Throughout the week I heard guest speakers from all types of brands and agencies from across the globe. Heading away from the Palais and down to the YouTube/Facebook/Twitter beaches, I got to enjoy immersive experiences like shooting my own 360 video, VR rollercoasters, underwater selfies and Instagram photoshoots with world renowned photographers. It was also the perfect place to wind down and enjoy the evening sun with a cocktail while listening to the latest product developments and campaigns that the tech companies were creating.


Cannes Lions is not short on inspiration. Whether it be the Young Lions Competition, the Palais, Facebook Beach or even the Gutter Bar, I can honestly say that I learned something new in every conversation and experience that I had. If you are under 30, I urge you to take part in the Irish Young Lions competition, do not let this amazing opportunity pass you by.


You can see view all the categories for this year’s competition here, the briefs are here and enter the competition via this page. For all enquiries, contact

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Adland in Vancouver


Having spent a few months traveling last year through North America, I arrived in Vancouver as my final destination. After returning to Ireland, I just couldn’t get the place out of my head. Vancouver fascinated me with its diverse landscape and people. There’s such a wonderful atmosphere here, with its rugged mountains, magnificent beaches, attractive city, numerous outdoor activities with sun in the summer, snow in the winter and an unbelievable cafe culture.

I was very lucky to be offered a job before I left Ireland, at Cossette, one of Canada’s leading full-service agencies. All my interviews were conducted on Skype, necessitating me having to tear myself away from the Ping Pong party to get home for an 11pm Skype call, which thankfully paid off!

I’ve been with Cossette for over 4 months now. What initially attracted me to such a diversely creative and forward thinking agency has proved true, and so much more. They were incredibly welcoming and enthusiastic when I arrived in Vancouver, they even had me along to their annual Summer Party before I had actually started working with them.

In Cossette I’m continuing to learn and grow in my career, be inspired by an incredibly varied and talented group of people and be challenged with time zones and the vastness of a country which we’re just not used to on our little (yet mighty) island.

There are some differences between the advertising industry here in Canada to Ireland. With such a multitude of cultures, we need to think about not just English, but French, Chinese, Spanish etc. We also need to think of scale i.e. posting a letter today probably won’t make it to Toronto tomorrow, or the next day!

They do encourage a strong work-life balance, contrary to what could be the perception of the North American way of life. In summer, the beaches are only a bike ride away and in the winter, the slopes are lit up until 11pm and everyone is encouraged to take full advantage of such wonderful facilities on their doorstep. Canadians are also on par with the Irish in the way we celebrate our wins and learn from our losses. But mostly the wins 😉

Here are a few tasters of Cossette’s work this past year:

McDonald’s Equalizer Fries – a digital board that changed shape based on the intensity of the music at Pemberton Music Festival.


The “I Am Someone” outdoor campaign; an anti-bullying campaign for a text-to-talk service.

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And, a personal favourite of mine- “Sick Kids VS Undeniable”. Raising awareness and asking people to “Fund the fight” against children’s illnesses.


johanna-molloyJohanna Molloy is an Account Supervisor at Cossette, Vancouver.

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The Doyenne Awards & Its Domino Effect – Championing Change Beyond the Boardroom

Earlier this year I had the honour of being shortlisted for IAPIs Doyenne Award, an award which celebrates female leadership within the advertising industry. Through this, I met a truly inspiring group of passionate, confident and engaging women – role models in the truest sense, who promote collaboration, empower teams and break boundaries.

A key topic throughout the award event speeches, was undoubtedly the sobering fact that just 18% of senior management at IAPI member agencies are female. As nominees, this made us even more resolute in our passion to mobilise and champion change. With a renewed enthusiasm, I stepped back into my day job with the question of how we address this imbalance fixed firmly in my mind.

If we want to inspire future female leaders, my instinct was to start at the point where young minds were beginning to make decisions about their future, and look for a way to encourage and inspire them, showing them that the majority of jobs today are available for women, and not just men. A chance encounter led me to connect with Junior Achievement Ireland, part of a worldwide organisation reaching out to over 10 million young people each year. JAI encourages young people to remain in education and helps them to develop the skills they need to succeed in a changing world.

In a perfect twist of fate, JAI had recently launched the Make Shape Change programme in partnership with Dublin City Council and Pivot Dublin. I immediately wanted in. The programme, facilitated through structured Power of Design workshops in city schools, creates an opportunity to talk to young people about what designers do, allows them to consider the wide variety of roles within the industry and discusses why design is so important.

My first classroom visit started with the question “what do you want to be when you are older?”. The response was deflating and unearthed a strong gender bias. Even early on in their education, young adults have already defined career opportunities as male and female.

As part of the workshop, students were encouraged to choose a design-related career through a fun quiz. Amazingly, I ended up with a room full of female game designers and architects, and male fashion designers and app developers. Their titles, emblazoned on badges they designed for themselves, generated group debate, raised questions, and most crucially set about challenging the embedded gender norms.

The platform also allowed me to talk about my job and my own career path from Receptionist to Board Director, and from that, show students how to connect their education with the many opportunities that lie ahead.

A programme like Make Shape Change opens up the world of work to young minds – just at the age where they are beginning to develop their aspirations and ambitions. Not only does it educate students about the power of design in the world around them, it helps to break down gender stereotypes and preconceptions, and in this instance, actively demonstrates to young girls especially, that they can be the leaders of tomorrow.

I firmly believe that the only way we can redress, and ultimately eliminate, the gender imbalance in leadership roles is through empowering our youth. Community and education driven programmes like Make Shape Change gives young people a chance to share with one another and really speak their minds. The creativity, openness and honesty displayed in the groups I spoke with was both humbling and invigorating. Our own futures can actually be brighter if we support our young people and inspire them to shine their own light.

I would wholeheartedly encourage agencies to join me in supporting this programme in the new school year by nominating volunteers to participate, especially those in female leadership positions.

It’s essential that strong role models are not just visible at boardroom tables.

If you’d like to know more, please get in touch; or +353 1 478 9090.

To volunteer, please contact:

Tanya Quinn
Program Coordinator
Junior Achievement Ireland
+353 1 293 0210

Sharon Murray Doyenne

Sharon Murray is  Director and Operations Director at Ebow.

Posted in Awards, Doyenne Award, Education, Women of Advertising | Tagged | Leave a comment

EACA Summer School 2016

In May of this year, I was made aware of the European Association of Communication Agencies Summer School being held by the European Institute for Commercial Communications Education in Berlin in July. As I am relatively new to this industry, just under two years and counting, I knew this was an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up. I did some research on the previous Summer Schools and loved the diversity the advanced course had to offer. It’s not often that you are presented with the chance to work with people and experts from different disciplines of the advertising and comms industry, let alone with people from all over Europe.

To be one of 40 that would be lucky enough to be chosen to attend I had to write a letter expressing my interest; what I think I would get from the School and more importantly, what I would bring to the table. Writing a letter ‘bigging’ yourself up is quite strange, it’s not a part of our Irish nature, for most of us anyway, to brag or gloat about our achievements or abilities. To be quite honest, I found it difficult – how was I to know what would make me stand out, make me deserving of this opportunity? I think the fact that I took the path less travelled might have sparked some interest. After taking the scenic route to complete my Undergraduate degree in politics and information studies from UCD I worked in event management.  I worked predominantly with the IRFU along with other international brands. After a year as an event manager I knew that helping brands build relationships with the public is the area in which I wanted to build my career. Wanting to broaden my knowledge beyond events I decided to take the plunge and head back to college.  I completed my Masters in Marketing from DIT with a first class honours in 2014. I lay all my cards on the table in my letter to the EACA, including the ups and downs that led to me working in MEC as a media planner and buyer and luckily for me, they decided I was a good fit.

It was about six weeks before the Summer School when I found out that I was chosen to attend. It was pushed to the back of my mind for a while, but as per usual, time flies and before I knew it, it was time to fly to Berlin. I knew it was going to be an intense week, we had six hours of lectures a day. We would be covering a variety of topics from behavioural economics to breaking the rules of creativity with trainers who have won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix and are best in class at what they do. However, the part of the week that I was most looking forward to was the pitch.

On the first day, after our introduction to the course with an insightfully bizarre morning with Dietmar Dahmen, we were divided into 8 groups. The groups we would be pitching with for the Deutsche Telekom pan European business. We were briefed by DDB, Deutsche Telekom’s agency, and it was game on from there – everyone’s competitive streak came out. The lectures over the course of the week were designed to help us identify insights, generate ideas and execute an effective and impactful media plan and activation. The aim was to reach out to and start a conversation with the millennials of Europe, Deutsche Telekom’s target audience.

As previously mentioned, the School was attended by 40 young professionals from across Europe, but my group in particular had a great mix. We had people from a variety of different countries (Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, UK and Ireland) and from various different backgrounds from; TV production, event planning, training consultancy and media planning. Given the diversity of our professional backgrounds it was sometimes difficult for us to get on the same page, as we all had different ways of working and processes that we were used to. There were times where we were going around in circles and were losing sight of the main objectives laid out by Deutsche Telekom. When we felt like we had come to a road block, and there were a few, we decided to down tools and explore Berlin. This was great as it gave us the opportunity to step back and take a breather and just get to know each other on a more personal level. Coincidentally, these breaks also happened to coincide with whatever Euros match was on that night. By the end of the week we had all broadened our minds and had an understanding for how we all worked as individuals. This helped us come together as a team and take advantage of and utilise our different strengths. There were many late nights in the Design Akadamie, followed by even later dinners and some football, of course.

The 8 groups pitched on the Friday afternoon to Deutsche Telekom, DDB, the EACA trainers and our peers. Seeing the ideas and execution of the other groups was fascinating. It’s not often that you are in a position to watch the competition when you are pitching to a client. There were a few teams that had similar ideas, but every group had their own identifying and unique stamp that separated them from everyone else.

I have to admit, I was somewhat nervous heading off to Berlin on my ‘own’, but the moment I walked in on the first day, I was put at ease. Not only were we all in the same boat, it was obvious that we all were there for the same reasons – we love what we do, we are eager to learn and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t jump at a chance for a week in Berlin? It was such a fantastic week and would advise any new IAPI members to apply for the 2017 Summer School.

Ali McDonnell

Ali McDonnell is an Account Manager with MEC in Dublin.

IAPI is the Irish member of the EACA and is the Irish rep for the Summer School.

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The IPA’s Excellence in Branding Diploma: Getting in touch with your inner brand belief

I graduated from the IPA’s ‘Excellence in Branding’ diploma in January and many people, both client and agency side, have asked me about the course and whether I would recommend they do it. They could just be making polite conversation. Or perhaps I prompted these polite queries as the diploma was, pretty much, my only conversation topic for a year. (That is, if you don’t include my children: conversation material to be tolerated only by blood relatives). Not to put anyone off but, to complete the actual course, I had to forfeit activities that make daily conversation possible, never-mind interesting. So when asked if I had seen Netflix’s latest viewing “Making a Murderer”, my bleak riposte would be something along the lines of “No, but did I tell you about the course I’m doing?”


I jest and jest not. The truth is, to complete the course I did have to forfeit indolent little pastimes such as boxsets, fiction-reading, rearing my children and at one hideous point even went on “the dry” for 6 weeks – a feat usually reserved only for the pregnant in Ireland. But before I scare anyone off, let me reassure that I do recommend the IPA diploma as I found it a positive experience even when it got excruciating.

Now that I am out the other side, I can share my experiences for anyone interested in doing the course which is currently recruiting for 2016/2017.

The positives:
The course introduces you to a lot of material that even the most downright eager of us wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to in our day jobs. From case law of brand history, to the technicalities of brand evaluation and a huge amount of conflicting “expert” views on what a brand is, you get to wade through some pretty deep material. Indeed, one of the chairs of the Excellence Diploma, Stuart Sullivan-Martin, tells us that “reading deeply and not just widely” is one of the course’s privileges. I notice this assertion is timed just as we receive another hefty reading list.

Once you have waded through all of this material and survived its cavalier attempts to drown your mind, a curious thing happens: you begin to get purchase on the many, often contradictory, perspectives of what a brand is. Better still, you get a real sense of where your convictions lie. This is helpful, as our industry feeds off hype, leading to a gravitational pull to whatever is the latest in “brand” snake oil. (It can’t just be me who deeply suspects most “Brand Purpose” is really just “Brand Phoney”, can it?) The raison d’être of the course is to give you the push and eventually the confidence to develop your own beliefs and put these to the ultimate test of presenting these on to others for critical assessment.

It’s stimulating. You are reading or being exposed to material that relates to what you do for a living. This makes your day job more interesting and you more interested. I vow to keep reading. It’s not about being a “know-it-all”, even if this is the status to which many a planner may secretly aspire. But I believe building up fundamental knowledge about what we do really helps, particularly in an industry that often mistakes knowledge with hype. It’s fun. You get to meet other people and hear what they have to say and because we don’t hold down proper grown-up jobs, some drinking is involved.

The excruciating bit:
Perhaps surprisingly this isn’t about the time it demanded or the workload. I have three children and am permanently bereft of that elusive concept we call time. So though the course will inevitably create more pressure on your time, it’s a case of how you manage this. As I don’t have that much free time, the angst around managing it and workload was largely absent: I did what I could in the time I could make free. That said, it’ll help enormously if you like reading and of course, writing.

But what was challenging, at times excruciatingly so, is that you couldn’t get away without baring your soul. (Yes, we advertising people have them). The whole point of the IPA course is to get you to develop personal beliefs so that they can be put into practice. And in my book, you don’t get to do this without consulting your soul.
Beliefs cannot be confused with opinions. Opinion is a matter of opinion. Beliefs are something you must be willing to put to the test and prove by convincing yourself and others that these can be applied.

Sounds easy? It isn’t. This isn’t just an intellectual exercise: it involves establishing what you really believe even if this sounds unhinged or unimpressive. For those yet to find their inner brand beliefs, the act of finding them can feel agonising. The agony is not helped by inevitable moments of intimidation. People don’t just nod along, indulgently, like some kind parent might do, to your new found beliefs: as you express these mostly in the form of essays, they MARK you on them. And the pen can be cruel. There is an essay per each of the three “Brand” deep dives of ca. 2000 words and the course culminates with a dissertation of ca. 7,000 words. Each essay entreats you to create an original point of view and new tools to apply this. The practical application is the part people have most difficulty getting their head around. But that again is the difference between opinion and belief. The latter must prove it can be applied ideally in a way that improves on existing brand practice. Writing and thinking in this structured manner takes getting used to. After a few attempts, something clicks: I get my head around it and write in a style that’s not too bookish and feels more me.

My soul baring resulted in me forming the belief that brands should pick fights as this is a great way to wield influence. If you would like to read the long version, please click here or a shorter version will be appearing in this month’s IMJ.

This wasn’t the only belief I formed. My first essay was all about the “dual lives” of people and how much contrast there is between the external and internal self; with the latter being the much more interesting concept to brands, because of how prone to fantasy it is and how much it lives in denial of reality. It’s a belief I keep returning to but which needs to be structured for practical application. And after completing the Excellence Diploma, I believe I am in a much better position to do just exactly that.
If anyone would like to know more about this course, or to see how much my ability for casual conversation has dramatically improved since completing it, please feel free to mail me at or you can tweet me @sineadcosgrove.

You can find out more about the course here.

Sinead Cosgrove

Sinead Cosgrove , Planning Director, Chemistry

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Getting Squared with Google


I was privileged to be recommended by PHD’s President of EMEA, Hilary Jefferies, to represent PHD on a 2 week course in London hosted by Google.  Squared Guru is a series of fully immersive courses run by Google with the aim to ‘Empower todays and tomorrows leader’s to drive the industry (r) evolution’.

So I found myself sat in a brightly decorated room off Goodge St on a Monday morning with 18 other media agency, creative agency and client side professionals completely unaware of what to expect (and hoping it wouldn’t be 2 weeks of sales push from Google!).  Everyone had given up 2 weeks in the office and so the hopes and expectations were high and we were not disappointed.   Google created an interesting, and energising schedule of speakers, tasks and workshops that both challenged and inspired.

We were hosted by 3 brilliant mentors, Daniel Solomon’s, Natasha Merrington and Jen Squared Guru PicHodgins and kicked off with two ’foundation days’ to set us up for the rest of the course.  The foundation days challenged our teamwork and leadership skills and made us all take a step back and question our default habits and roles.   Team building tasks forced quick and relationships between teams as the 18 of us were set off to work with a charity client in South London with a 12 hour turnaround on a brief.

Forcing 18 people who are used to leading and directing on a day to day basis to work together at speed and intensity was challenging and exhausting but taught us all a lot about how we interact with others and new ways to get to results.   Most interesting was the enforced periods of acting as ‘the observer’.  I was first up in my team and for 5 hours had to follow the team, observe and take notes with any contribution from myself banned.  I found it incredibly challenging but very insightful and I learnt so much about how much you can take in if you sit back and listen.

The rest of the course was a series of inspiring speakers, workshops and two more team based projects.   One speaker that stood out for me was Sam Conniff, Chief Purpose Officer (!) at a Youth Marketing agency called Livity. Livity describe themselves as a ‘more than profit’ agency who only taken on client briefs that have an element of social purpose and who have mentored and supported hundreds of young people in both London and South Africa.  He shared with us compelling empirical evidence that companies with a sense of social purpose outperform those who are solely profit focused this left us all determined to bring more purpose and meaning to our day to day working lives.

A particularly interesting workshop was with an ex PHD-er John Willshire of Smithery, a Strategic Design Company.   John taught us new brainstorming and idea generation techniques centred around the use of playing cards.   With these tools we worked in teams to pitch, with a 24 hour turn around, a brand new digital based company to our mentors and peers.  The task incited incredible passion and competitiveness and our team all temporarily planned to quit our jobs and make our idea a reality!

Workshops around programmatic, audience targeting and insights led to lots of debate, discussion and set us up for our final project – creating a digital strategy for either De Beers Diamonds or Shell Motorsport.

All in all a fantastic 2 weeks which allowed the time and headspace for personal development with reflection.  We ended with a graduation ceremony and a celebration in The Hospital Club.

I came back to Dublin with renewed energy and focus.

Gemma Teeling

Head of Client Service | PHD Ireland


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T: 01 676 5991

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