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Backing the Idea

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As part of Adworld.ie’s coverage of Cannes this week , Eimear Lawn of Mediaworks shares her thoughts on a talk given by AIB’s CMO Tom Kinsella, brand director Brian Keating and Rothco’s Patrick Ronaldson which took place at the weekend.

Backing the Idea

The team – AIB’s CMO Tom Kinsella, Brian Keating, group propositions and brand director of AIB and Rothco’s Patrick Ronaldson – started by reminding us that while we are all searching for the perfect idea, there are loads we simply don’t back. Which means, we have to feel confident backing the idea we choose. We’re very tied to the structures and processes in our organisations – we love them; however, it may be holding us back from great work. Essentially, like parenting, we cannot ‘helicopter parent’ our ideas.

Sound advice, the team then took us through the story of #TheToughest campaign.

Well-known to both consumers and the industry in Ireland, the story of the campaign was set against the challenging backdrop that AIB faced several years ago. AIB had lost 60% of its staff and was saved with a bailout from the Irish government. Essentially, they were one of the country’s most hated brands. A toxic place to start, but not all was lost.

In fact, having nothing to lose was a gift – actually for a marketer, it’s a bit of a dream.

Creating Great Work

Tom, Brian and Patrick went on to share three guiding principles for creating great work:

  • Break convention. They didn’t want to be a bank brand, they wanted to be a great brand.
  • Don’t be afraid of failure.
  • Be free to let the idea lead you. Essentially, allow the audience to play with it and be ready to roll.

Their starting point, as so many of us in Ireland know, was sponsorship – a challenge given a lack of investment initially.

The GAA was then carefully introduced, and brought to life for an audience from all over the world. Calling out the challenges and barriers that came with the Club Championships, they had to review it with fresh eyes. They turned each potential barrier with the Club Championship into an example of commitment. For example, the lack of attendance at club matches? A challenge? Yes. But it meant that only the toughest players would continue to train hard, always turn up and give it everything for their local team.

Colm Cooper was then introduced as the ‘Messi’ of our sport; and his lack of club title meant that the Club Championships was indeed important – because it was the most challenging title to earn.

Snippets of the content created to make this point were shared in the presentation. But it was the layers of content created after this that had the Cannes audience sitting on the edge of their seats. Essentially, AIB committed to ‘film everything’ and feed the conversation as it kept rolling. Great examples of this included testing the length of the kick taken which lost Colm Cooper his title, or the Kerry v Donegal All Ireland Final which they hijacked to see if someone would be committed enough to rip up their golden ticket to win money for their club.

What Would Don King Do?

Captivating content, but as this was successful, they needed to do more to maintain the success. They gave themselves a new brief – What would Don King do? Well, they said – it’s the toughest sport in Ireland; but is it the toughest sport in the world?

This introduced the Toughest Trade – a five-part televised documentary series on TV that allowed GAA heroes to swap places with legends of alternative sports, with both athletes challenged to learn each other’s sporting discipline over a short time period.

They filmed everything – not just the final footage which aired on TV – but a series of ‘behind the scenes’ or ‘on the spot’ content which drove even further conversation.

Ultimately, the campaign story told on Saturday afternoon in Cannes highlighted just how much the brand has done for the sport, particularly at a grassroots level. The kudos and brand lift achieved (moving from 6% to 57% in the Edelman Trust Barometer), was down to the principle of truly backing an idea.

They finished with three key reminders

  • Bravery begins with the brief.
  • You must give your audience something to play with.
  • If you love something, set it free.

All in all, the talk was an excellent representation of the great work being done in Ireland and one that deserves our Spotlight here in Cannes.