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A Look at the Best Christmas Ads of 2019

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 4 December 2019
Updated: Monday 2 December 2019

The festive season is in full swing, and this time of year brings about the highly anticipated Christmas Ads. Top brands compete to engage and entertain consumers, in what are often the most talked about marketing campaigns of the year. Here are some of the best of 2019!


Excitable Edgar - John Lewis and Partners & Waitrose and Partners 

The John Lewis Christmas ad is always an eagerly-awaited highlight of the festive season. This year John Lewis teamed up with Waitrose for a Game of Thrones style Christmas, teamed with their winning emotional formula.


E.T. Came Home for Christmas - Sky 

In an effort to encourage people to 'reconnect this Christmas' Sky has flown everyone's favourite Extra - Terrestrial back to Earth to visit Elliott and his family. 


Kevin the Carrot - Aldi 

2019 sees the return of Ireland's moved beloved vegetable ,Kevin the Carrot in a spectacular musical show down against his nemesis, Russell Sprout.

Delivering Christmas - Tesco

A Tesco delivery driver takes an unexpected detour through time, embarking upon 100 years of  ''Delivering Christmas'' in one magical night. Loaded with a van full of ‘food from the future,’ he makes a few historic deliveries along the way.


The Book of Dreams - Argos

Argos renames the catalogue ‘The Book of Dreams’ as a dad’s childhood dreams are awoken when he sees the drumkit his daughter has circled.


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SCRUM: Applying Agile to Marketing

Posted By Colin Lewis, Wednesday 4 December 2019
Updated: Monday 2 December 2019

What is Agile? How can it work for Marketing teams?

‘Agile’ and ‘agility’ are often derided concepts – typically by people who are not that familiar with what agile entails. So, for the marketing cynics out there who feel that agile is the ‘emperor’s new clothes’, let’s have a further look at what it entails.

Let’s start with some definitions and distinctions: what actually is ‘agile’? You've probably heard of agile with respect to software development. It replaced a more traditional way of managing software called the ‘waterfall’ approach which meant creating huge documents made up of requirements, which were then handed over to developers, who then created software to fit the specifications. Inevitably, by the time the project was ready, the requirements would have changed, and the whole thing would be shelved. When you hear about large scale IT projects failing, you can make a guess that the waterfall might have been at the route of their problems.

To fix this, agile software development came about in the earlier part of this century, and, in true developer fashion, they developed a manifesto.

Agile, according to the original manifesto, is a set of values and principles that result in better ways of developing software.[1] The manifesto states that there are 'better ways of developing software...that values individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation and responding to change over following a plan'.

The Agile approach results in working software, instead of comprehensive documentation, and has customer collaboration at its core. Using the Agile approach means that development can respond to changes, instead of having to follow a rigid plan. The Agile method reduces development costs, shortens project duration, and delivers a higher percentage of user requirements.




Waterfall is a process model, while Agile is a set of values. With a Waterfall process, there are phases with gates in between them, with individual specialists finishing and handing over the work in each phase sequentially.

Suffice to say, agile software development won as it delivered more visibility, transparency, predictable costs, higher quality and more adaptability to changes.  The popularity of Agile has resulted in specific methodologies. One example of an Agile framework is Scrum. Working with an Agile framework such as SCRUM means that the project does not operate according to rigid plans. Rather, close customer communication and the flexible consideration of changes are the focus. A fundamental concept of Agile is the notion that a software project cannot be planned in every detailed requirement at the beginning of the project.    




Over time, the agile way of working was recognised as being a suitable approach for other parts of a business. And, it would not be a new approach unless it had its own manifesto, so the Agile Marketing Manifesto was created in 2012! According to the manifesto talked about using ‘learning over opinions and conventions’, ‘customer-focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy, ‘the process of customer discovery over static prediction’, ‘flexible vs. rigid planning’, ‘responding to change over following a plan’ and ‘small experiments over a few large bets’.

The cynics among you might react like I did: this manifesto just sounds like, well, a normal approach to implementing marketing plans. Your cynicism might be misplaced however, as the origins of agile in a marketing context came from start ups - mainly tech brands developing websites or apps, not FMCG brands.

McKinsey frame ‘agile marketing’ as ‘using data and analytics to continuously source promising opportunities or solutions to problems, deploying tests quickly, evaluating the results, and rapidly iterating’ – you can see that this way of thinking about agile as a concept can work well in a digital or app context. 

However, I have some insider knowledge here: the company I work for implements large scale eCommerce and projects for some of the world's largest travel and loyalty brands - including twelve (large) customers in China.  They use agile for software project development in highly, complex fast changing environments – in many cases where the client is remote – and there is a lot on the line.  I have the success of agile in that context first hand. I also ran innovation programmes using a series of agile ‘sprints’, creating ideas, testing solutions and rolling our prototypes in just five days, focusing on customer acceptance as part of the process. And, yes, it really worked – we launched some amazing new products on the back of this agile process.

Let us look at one of the key tenets of agile: the SCRUM - a project management. A list of tasks is developed by the team to achieve their goals. The scrum ‘master’ sets priorities with the team, identifies required resources, and manages “sprints” – the name given to one-to-two-week cycles of work. A daily 15 minute standup meeting is held, where each member of the team answers three questions:

What did I do yesterday?
What will I do today?
Are there any obstacles that stand in my way?

The proponents of the agile approach claim that you can get more done, get the right things done, adapt faster, build collaborative and self-organising teams and improve communications within the team and with senior management. Notwithstanding the heated arguments for and against the phrase ‘agile marketing’, I don’t think any reader of the Marketing Institute newsletter can argue that this is not a bad way of approaching the day-to-day of marketing.  Not by a long shot.

As Martech writer, Scott Brinker, says, ‘agile management is a way to execute a strategy when either (a) the environment in which you’re operating is fluid and shifting, and you want to rapidly sense and respond to those changes, or (b) the media in which you’re rendering your strategy has fast feedback loops giving you the valuable option to optimise your execution quickly and cheaply’.

So, let’s really say what agile is: a tactical approach in which teams identify, collaborate and focus their collective efforts. And, here is what agile is not – if the principles of agile are applied: agile does not mean the opportunity to ditch marketing strategy for whatever happens to be the tactic du jour. Marketing strategy is not ‘agile’ – but the implementation of said strategy could be. 


About the Author


Colin Lewis is a career marketer, selected as one of the UK’s Top 100 Marketers in 2015 & 2016, as well as a Top 100 Marketer in Ireland in 2016. He has worked with two former UK SuperBrands as well as VC funded startups.  Colin teaches over 100+ contact hours on digital marketing a year, and speaks at conferences across Europe. 

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AIB & Vodafone Win A Game Changing Decade For Irish Sponsorship

Posted By ONSIDE, Wednesday 20 November 2019

As the dust settles on the recent Rugby World Cup 2019 and curtain drops on a decade that saw spend on sponsorship grow by 70% to over €220m this year, Vodafone Rugby and AIB GAA were revealed as the stand out sponsorships of the year and decade by sponsorship consultants ONSIDE and the MII at a major business of sponsorship conference this week.  

The end of year and decade ONSIDE survey of the Marketing Institute of Ireland’s professional marketing community has revealed that IRFU sponsors Vodafone, has topped the list in terms of best overall sports sponsorship of 2019, while Electric Ireland’s Darkness into Light was singled out as the best overall non-sports sponsorship of 2019. 

According to John Trainor, Founder and CEO of ONSIDE “Reflecting consistent progress in the Irish sponsorship industry this year, 4 in 10 marketing professionals surveyed felt sponsorship campaigns in Ireland this year had improved on previous years, with just 1 in 10 feeling standards within the industry had dropped back.”

Vodafone also topped the list of brands that were deemed top performers specifically around the Rugby World Cup, with local market sponsors Guinness and Aldi also singled out for exceptional performance. Bank of Ireland’s tie up with RTE’s broadcast coverage of the tournament in Japan outscored the eirsport / Samsung edition by 10% in terms of effectiveness, while James Ryan, Jordan Larmour, Johnny Sexton and Rory Best were seen to have done most in Japan to enhance their marketability for 2020.

Trainor notes: “Sponsorship is often best judged in terms of its long term return for a business or brand and when viewed through this lens, our research of the Marketing Institute of Ireland’s professional members found AIB and GAA to be the one to look back on next decade as a standout sponsorship.” A parallel research survey of the Irish public by ONSIDE found adults in Ireland singled out Guinness as the one brand that they believe won the past decade of sponsorship in Ireland.  Others making up the Irish public’s Top 10 Sponsors of the decade included Vodafone, Heineken, Aldi, Lidl, 3, Bank of Ireland, AIB, Aviva and Aer Lingus.

Marketing professionals voted Katie Taylor as the No 1 most marketable Irish sports stars for 2020 followed closely by golfer Shane Lowry and in joint third Johnny Sexton and the Irish Women’s Hockey Team.  

Gerry Nixon, Head of Sponsorship & Business Brand at Vodafone commented: “We are delighted to be recognised at the Who Won Sponsorship Series 2019. Its great recognition for the ‘Everyone In’ campaign around the World Cup, but more importantly it bodes well for the future as look forward to building on these foundations with the IRFU through 2020 and beyond”.



ONSIDE is a leading specialist in marketing and sponsorship consulting and research services - With a proven track record and strong industry experience in a cross section of sectors, ONSIDE is currently feeding into the marketing and sponsorship decision making of circa €50m+ of Irish spend – working on many of Ireland’s premier sponsorships – on sporting, music, cause-related, broadcast and other platforms.  

In October 2019, ONSIDE conducted an online survey among the Marketing Institute of Ireland’s membership base of marketing professionals.  

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Marketing Matters… with Tricia Gallagher, Head of Marketing and Pursuits at KPMG

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 20 November 2019
Updated: Tuesday 19 November 2019

Tricia Gallagher KPMG

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role. 

I lead the Marketing and Pursuits function at KPMG Ireland, ultimately developing effective campaigns to continuously secure and improve on our brand position and drive growth.  In marketing, we strive to promote our people, services and experience in an innovative way, protecting our brand and reputation.  On pursuits, we work with client teams to develop a tailored approach to improve our win probability.

In terms of my day-to-day role, it’s quite varied. On any given day, I input on multiple campaigns, across a number of sectors and quite often with a global aspect. I enjoy the creative aspects of sponsorship activation and the competitiveness of pursuits.  I work with people across the creative, data, insights, communications and pursuits teams, all of whom are the very best at what they do. I’m sure you’ll agree that people who work in marketing tend to perform well under pressure whilst still having fun, and this creates a positive environment.

I’m lucky as KPMG is a great place to work, and the value that marketing brings is very much respected. As a firm, we recognise the position of trust we hold and the importance of maintaining good relationships with regulators and business stakeholders. We’re proud of our commitment to the wellbeing of our communities and skills-based volunteering is actively encouraged across the firm.  It’s nice to see how taking some time out of your day to help others can really make a difference.

I’m originally from Dungloe in Donegal, but I’ve lived in Dublin for almost 10 years. When I’m not working, I enjoy travelling, visiting family and friends all over the world. I love skiing and water sports and I’m an avid GAA fan. I’m also in the KPMG tennis society which is great fun. There’s endless banter amongst the different groups.

Why did you choose a career in marketing? 

A combination of upbringing, education, being a keen organiser and a people person together with broad work experience in my younger adult life helped me to choose a career in marketing.

I grew up in a busy household. My parents were involved in multiple businesses over the years and they also ran a 10-day festival with national sponsors such as Guinness, Opel and Aer Lingus.  From a very young age I gained invaluable exposure to a broad range of marketing activities, from orchestrating media interviews to putting in the hard yards on event management of conferences, concerts and corporate hospitality.  It was great!

Later I studied Business and Accounting at the University of Ulster in Derry. While studying, I held a variety of different part-time jobs. The experiences I gained from these jobs led me to realise that I wanted a role with lots of variety and where I could use my organisational skills, but which was people-focused.  I’m very much a people person.

In the early part of my career, I worked with the Department of Cultural Development at the University of Ulster. There, I had the pleasure of working on a number of programmes with senior political leaders and at a time when the city welcomed international dignitaries, including Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan. 

Later I broadened my marketing experience at The Foyle Film Festival before going to work for a sports marketing agency in Melbourne, which was very exciting.

I returned to Dublin and completed a post-grad in PR and Event Management, then started up my own business -  Storm PM. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed this entrepreneurial spell in my career, unfortunately the downturn in the Irish economy at the time meant that most businesses had their marketing budgets cut, so opportunity for growth was limited for a marketing agency in the North West.

I moved into Professional Services 9 years ago and it’s gone from strength to strength really.  I’ve worked at KPMG since July 2017 and the role really brings together my commercial experience across marketing consulting, business development, event management and sponsorship activation.   The role of data in marketing has evolved hugely in that time and I get a kick out of seeing tangible results on key campaigns.

In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge marketers are facing today and how would you tackle it?

I believe the biggest challenge for marketers remains to be the task of designing a tailored solution every time when almost every industry and issue is different. Your client base will typically be very broad, each with a different need, a different personality and different buying power. In some industries, marketers are expected to ‘magic up’ a solution, often with limited time and even less information on what it is they’re trying to achieve.  In order to tackle this, you need to have the very best of resources and expertise in your team or through external agencies.

I also think that some businesses fail to fully recognise the value of effective branding both as an external platform for positioning and an internal platform to hold the culture of the organisation together and motivate employees. Here, it’s critical to have a marketing voice in the boardroom.  This ensures that your marketing agenda aligns with the overall strategy and also helps to manage expectations of the board.

What advice would you give to someone starting a career in marketing?

Typically, marketers possess a ‘can do’ attitude, coupled with a commercial mindset. If they don’t, they generally don’t succeed. My top tips for starting out are:

1. Try to get as much varied experience as possible early on in your career and ask a lot of questions so you’re clear in your role about what you’re trying to achieve and why.

2. Where possible, work with or for the best people i.e. those who are already successful in their field.

3. Stay close to the marketplace to remain current and creative. Be curious. Look into brands that impress you and think about why. Also, consider different campaigns and ask yourself what exactly attracts you to them and why they’re so effective.

What makes a great marketer?

In recent years, I feel there’s been too much emphasis on having hard skills as a marketer. The real challenge is in possessing softer skills, such as thinking outside the box, being creative, and being good with people. It’s essential that you have that balance. 

Good marketers have an ability to continuously adapt, as the buyer typically changes. As a result, they must find new ways to engage effectively and bring the client on the journey with them. 

Lastly, be careful how you communicate. Marketing is quite straightforward so it’s important to communicate in a straightforward manner too.

What is your favourite marketing campaign of all time? Why?

I’ve always been impressed by Red Bull’s entry to the market and how they quickly managed to compete with Coca Cola and Pepsi. They targeted pubs in the first instance, enabling them to compete at a higher price than competitors and their packaging was hassle-free for distributors and customers.  They hired students as reps for on-campus penetration and what’s more, the brand positioned itself in a way that suggested it could increase performance, thereby flipping a negative sugar connotation to achieve a performance-enhancing mindset. This was very clever! 

They commissioned a substantial advertising campaign early on and later switched to experiential marketing through sponsorship of extreme sports. I think that’s proven to be very effective for them.

Closer to home, I love being involved in the 20x20 campaign, which aims to encourage greater participation, attendance and media coverage of girls and women in sport.  KPMG is a primary sponsor and we’re very proud to support a campaign that drives a real cultural shift in society, counteracting the inherent unconscious bias towards women in sport.  This campaign is smashing targets and genuinely encouraging women and particularly, young girls to become more involved in sport which is fantastic.  It’s great for Ireland to lead the charge in this space and the interest in the campaign from other countries across the globe is phenomenal so watch this space. 


Where do you look for professional inspiration?

There are lots of good books and TED talks on marketing-related topics, which generally provide inspiration. The last marketing book I read was CX by Brian Solis. But typically, I keep an eye on what’s happening in the industry through the likes of Forbes.

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11 Must-Have Marketing Competencies (part 2)

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 13 November 2019
Updated: Monday 11 November 2019

The Marketer Pathways framework was developed by the Marketing Institute following consultation with over 50 senior marketing practitioners from across a range of sectors. It dives into the business, marketing and people competencies that are required at various marketing career stages so marketers can identify where they are on their career journey, assess what they need to do next, develop a plan of action.

This section focuses on Marketing specific competencies and indicative behaviours. At each level we describe the core areas of marketing specialisation from brand, channel, digital marketing and new product development.

At the early career stages, you can use this to explore areas of specialisation, at the later career stages it will aid you in facilitating the development of your marketing team. 

This week we are looking at the remaining 5 out of the 11 marketing competencies.


7. Marketing Campaigns

Ability to develop successful marketing campaigns and lead and guide implementation. Uses strong market and customer insights to inform strategy and to deliver high impact campaigns. Works well with external agencies to develop highly creative campaigns. Strong expertise in the key campaign elements, including: analytics, research, brand development, advertising, digital marketing, sponsorship, promotional activities, direct marketing and consumer PR. A strong marketing communications capability and an ability to develop the best approach to effectively communicate to customers and other key audiences. 

Assess your level


8. New Product Development

Ability to develop an effective new product development (NPD) strategy for the business. Capacity to create an effective NPD process to generate a range of products, services and value propositions, consistent with overall business and marketing strategies. Ensures that the organisation’s overall product and service offerings, delivers on the brand promise and an excellent customer experience. The capacity to make the organisation’s product and service range, a key point differentiation and competitive advantage. 

Assess your level


9.Marketing Strategy

Has a clear understanding of the organisation’s vision, strategy and the key strategic drivers of growth. Can use these insights to realise organization objectives and to achieve business results. Takes a broad view of the organisation and its business and has a deep understanding of its internal and external operating environments. Brings clear strategic thinking to such issues such as; industry trends, the competitive environment, market and customer opportunities, emerging technology and effective stakeholder management. Can link the organisation strategy to day to day outputs and key operational deliverables. 

Assess your level


10. Research

Ability to use high quality customer, market information and analytics, to develop key customer and market insights. The use of such insights, to inform and guide overall business and marketing strategies. Capability to use relevant customer metrics such as, satisfaction, engagement and consumer behaviors, to evaluate the overall success of the marketing strategy and to guide new product development efforts. 

Assess your level


11. Customer Centricity

Has a clear focus on meeting the evolving needs of customers. Develops a customer experience which is consistent with the brand positioning, promise and values. Drives customer loyalty and satisfaction. Seeks to develop long-term and sustainable (profitable) customer relationships, using customer data and insights to better understand customer priorities and needs and deliver the best possible customer experience. 

Assess your level

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