AdLib: Reality check for marketers

Cabin crew Sarah Nolan, Tracy Johansson and Gillian Kane with the Green Spirit, an Airbus 320, painted in IRFU livery
Cabin crew Sarah Nolan, Tracy Johansson and Gillian Kane with the Green Spirit, an Airbus 320, painted in IRFU livery
George Hook

Marketers should be in for a treat in October. That’s because the body which has the task of promoting TV as an advertising medium, Television Audience Measurement (TAM Ireland), will host a lunch in Dublin at which the straight-talking commentator and marketing professor Mark Ritson will discuss what matters in marketing – and what ought to be ignored.

Ritson insists marketers must focus on next year’s strategy – there’s lots to do. Forget about fads like 3-D printing. Who remembers Pokemon Go? The kid’s game went the way of the Dodo.

Don’t bother yourself with augmented reality (AR) and strapping on headsets to gain insights. To quote the man himself: “Stop using tech porn for marketing masturbation”.

(As I alluded to already, this Aussie doesn’t mince his words.) Ritson says don’t worry about Bitcoin and Blockchain. There’s bigger fish to fry. They might well be interesting topics, “lovely stuff” but they do damn all in helping make a marketer more effective or in adding value to brands. He says “go for real reality and see things that are actually there”.

He points to a morbid obsession with death in marketing. It’s said that print is dying, TV is on its last legs, while branding, the chief marketing officer’s role and market segmentation, are all in a coma.

But such talk is absurd because things take time to happen and we learn to live together. Lines curve, things slow down and mature. Nothing really dies.

Rather, by things evolving they make space for new arrivals. Ritson did an exercise to prove his point. When Elvis Presley died in 1977, there were 170 people impersonating ‘The King’. By 2000, the number had soared to 85,000. If the trend was to continue and we extrapolate out the figures, by March 3 2031, everyone in the world would be an Elvis impersonator.

Not surprisingly, being a university lecturer, Ritson is adamant training makes a better marketer.

He’s got little time for those who say you’re better off with a degree in social science or engineering.

Another bug bear for him is the growing tendency of famous brands which push out mission statements and talk a lot about brand purpose.

He scorns Heineken and its vow to “brew a better world”. Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ‘Live for Now Moments’ ad was rightly slammed on twitter for trivialising political resistance. Coffee giant Starbuck’s trailblazes a corporate message which promises to “inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.”

TAM will host the Ritson lunch in the Aviva Stadium on Friday, October 12. Tickets can now be booked online.

* Carat has retained Mondeléz’s media buying and planning account in the UK and Ireland. Mondeléz, best known for its Cadbury, Toblerone, Oreo and Bel Vita brands, called an international review of its account back in March, with Publicis’s Spark Foundry and GroupM’s Wavemaker also pitching for the estimated £50m spend in these islands.

Staying with snack brands, MediaCom will handle buying for the Mars confectionery, gum, pet food and grocery foods portfolio from next January. Omnicom and Publicis agencies had also pitched. Recma reckons the global Mars business is worth £1.4bn. Mars brands include Maltesers, Snickers, Starburst, Pedigree Chum, Uncle Ben’s and Dolmio.

* As Galway prepare to do battle with Limerick in the All-Ireland hurling final in Croke Park this Sunday, the Tribesmen’s centre-forward Joe Canning has joined a small group of international sports stars with a limited-edition Red Bull can designed for them.

Canning joins PSG and Brazil striker Neymar, F1 driver Max Verstappen and Scottish trials cyclist Danny MacAskill on the energy drink cans. The Canning can coincides with a new mobile game called Red Bull Strike, with the aim of simulating the longest strike – a puc fada – of a sliotar. The highest scorer gets to train with Canning and wins a VIP weekend.

* Aer Lingus is to continue as the official airline of Irish Rugby for another three years. The renewal of the contract means the airline and the IRFU will have partnered for six years by the time the deal arrives at its final terminal in 2021.

Aer Lingus marketing director Dara McMahon, said the sponsorship won the top prize at last year’s Irish Sponsorship Awards. The activations have seen specially branded planes, a Twitter challenge to rival carrier Air New Zealand and rugby-themed in-flight announcements for travelling fans to help bring some home advantage when Ireland play away.

George Hook

And finally… Newstalk presenter and former RTÉ rugby pundit George Hook has signed up as ‘VIP’ magazine’s new agony uncle. The promo says ‘Ask George’ will offer “real, droll and unsweetened advice on all manner of your dilemmas”. Readers could be in for some intriguing counsel from the loquacious Corkonian.

Michael Cullen is editor of; [email protected]

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