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Meet Ava, Ireland's First Facebook Messenger Chat Bot

Posted By Connector, Thursday 27 April 2017

Connector Chat Bot Ava
Have you met Connector’s newest team member and very own marketing innovation expert, Ava?

Have you met Ava? Dublin-based innovation studio, Connector just introduced their newest team member and very own marketing innovation expert, Ava. The Facebook Messenger chat bot launched on 23rd April and is the very first innovation of its kind to be developed and rolled out from Ireland.
How people are connecting with businesses through technology is constantly evolving. SMS, messaging, chat, and email, are once again prevalent consumer experiences. With 1.9 million Facebook Messenger users and 1.7 million WhatsApp users in Ireland, these two platforms have a higher percentage of users than any other messenger network in the country.
Launching their latest innovation, CEO of Connector, Connor Lynch today said: “I am delighted to introduce our fellow innovators and marketers to Ava - a fast and personal way to connect people to the resources and expertise that they need, whenever and wherever they need it.
“People love to communicate with one another using Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Despite the development of more sophisticated tools, we seem to be satisfied with the logic, scale and immediacy of instant messaging.” said Connor Lynch. “We have passed through an era of apps and playful user interfaces, and have come right back around to the simpler and more direct user experience of chat.
“By employing a chat-first strategy, any organisation can drive sales, provide efficient customer service, enhance their brand experience and encourage loyalty from their customers.” continued Connor Lynch “With a mix of AI and human service, a smart organisation can enrich interactions with their audiences, so that they feel both familiar and welcome, while also delivering a great deal of value.”
Messaging statistics:

  • Ireland has 1.9 million Facebook Messenger users and 1.7 million WhatsApp users
  • 52 per cent of people prefer texting customer support over any other method of communication;
  • 100 per cent of smartphone users aged 18-29 use a text messaging function on their phones at least once a week;
  • The rate of opened and read SMS text messages is high at 98 per cent;
  • On average, it only takes 90 seconds for people to reply to a text message compared to 90 minutes for an email;
  • 97 per cent of smartphone owners report using their mobile device for text messaging.

To meet Ava, simply message her on the Connector Facebook page:


Connector is an award winning open innovation studio. They leverage a fearless approach to creativity, a culture of learning and a fast moving tech startup environment to design strategy, build digital products, engage influencers, and produce ‘real world’ experiences.
Some of Connector’s ideas build brand, grow market share and increase revenue, while others become business drivers within their own eco-system.
Connector clients include: Huawei, Sony, Just Eat, Benecol, Bord Bia, Allianz, RTÉ, amongst others.
For more information about Connector visit

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A Day in the Life of... Colin Culliton, CEO at TPI Group

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 26 April 2017
Updated: Friday 21 April 2017

Colin Culliton

The Marketing Institute: What does a CEO at TPI do?

Colin Culliton: A good CEO should be focused on the overall strategy and direction of the business. The day-to-day running of TPI is handled by senior executives within each business function. I oversee and support these efforts, push hard to hit targets and work to ensure a collaborative culture is developed and maintained by the team. A CEO must have a laser sharp vision of the future direction of the company and be able to communicate the roadmap that will help the entire team navigate towards their goals and achieve company objectives.


MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

C.C: I started at the very bottom. I worked in a gaudy van selling Branded Tax Disk Holders to Motor Dealers around the country. In the 80’s, in the middle of a deep recession, car sales were low, so this was a hard sell! But I happened to do pretty well. I had studied Marketing in college and I really wanted to do something better that combined that interest with my commercial strengths. Two sales jobs later, in better businesses and with a bit of experience under my belt, I found myself at the tender age of 25, as the Owner Manager of a small printing start-up. My first job, while pretty crap, gave me ambition to do better, and to be better. With TPI, I had the opportunity to sell marketing solutions to a vast range of clients, it was perfect for me. I wouldn’t change anything of my humble beginnings. Hunger is the best sauce.


MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

C.C: We operate in a very fast moving environment. Customer requirements and needs are evolving all the time and we have to keep up with that, to keep relevant. The lines are blurring and we have to constantly change to offer a deeper, more dynamic marketing solutions menu. This business has seen dramatic change over the last 10 years. My biggest challenge has been to guide the team in these new directions, to change behaviours, to evolve the culture and maintain some of the values that have made The TPI Group a great company to do business with, and to work in. Change is hard, it’s unsettling, some days I think the only people who like change are babies with dirty nappies!


MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

C.C: At the risk of using a cliché, communication is vital. We have 136 people over 6 companies in our Group. Under pressure, they look to me for leadership and guidance. Energy and passion flow from the top down. I want everyone in this business to feel passionate about what we do and to live that through all customer interactions. Teams work hard when they are fighting for a cause they believe in. The key skills I’ve had to develop are leadership, communication and delegation. This last one has been most difficult, but if you want a business to thrive, there are times when you have to simply let go.


MII: Describe a typical working day.

C.C: I wake at 6.30am. I row. I shower. I shave. My working day starts off at about 7.30am when I check my emails as I eat Breakfast. Anything urgent is handled there and then, but mostly the stuff outstanding can wait until I’m in the office. The six MD’s are well able to handle most challenges. I have a 45-minute drive in from Enniskerry to Fonthill, which is a good time for Thinking. I normally get to the office by 8.30am and try to avoid any meetings until 10.00am. The first hour and a half is mainly reading and writing emails. Then a series of review meetings would normally kick-off with my managers. I try to have at least one outside or off-site meeting a day, sometimes a catch-up with a vital client, sometimes a NBD pitch, sometimes a visit to our off-site company Pluto, our experiential Business in Clonskeagh. At about 1pm I like to have my lunch break alone, at my desk or in a nearby pub, as it is a good time for me to shut up and re-group for the PM.  On a good day, I get to walk the offices and factory floor of Font House early PM. More often than not walk-ins and unplanned stuff has me running a little tight for time. I always try to finish the last couple of hours at my desk normally reading and writing emails. I head for home at around 6.30pm and get home in time for dinner with my wife and kids just after 7pm – this is my favourite time of day. I used to do a little work after dinner, but I decided I was unproductive when working too much, so I try to keep my mobile and laptop off in the evening time. I recommend everyone try this.


MII: What do you love most about your role?

C.C: I get a kick out of variety. I love being involved in so many different aspects of Marketing. We do consumer experiential campaigns, large scale event management, customer experience design, graphic design, print and even branded merchandise. Having different companies deliver solutions in different areas means you are involved in some of the most creative campaigns for some inspirational brands. When you have passionate customers and passionate, driven teams, you can’t help but get the buzz from it. 


MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

C.C: All things going well, I will do another 5 years at the helm here. Then I will step aside and let a younger person drive The TPI Group. I will never retire, it seems to be deadly for many busy people. I have a lot left to give and I’d love to share what I’ve learned with other up and coming businesses. I like people and I like business, so I could see myself trying my hand at executive coaching, speaking, teaching or maybe even starting another business, just to test myself! I’m not destined for, nor do I desire a quiet life. But that said, they say if you want to make God laugh make a plan.


MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

C.C: I love sport and I like passionate leaders. So, the likes of Brian Cody, Joe Schmidt and Jurgan Klopp are guys I see as authentic leaders that I admire. In business, Willie Walsh, of International Airlines Group, is an Irish guy who has faced adversity and still excelled over many years, in a very tough industry with some fierce competition. Whenever I feel sorry for myself I thank God I am not a Paddy working in Britain who runs three Airlines, all whom have to compete with Michael O’Leary and Ryanair!


You can read all the A Day in the Life features here.

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Vizeum Connection Points: April Industry Updates

Posted By Vizeum, Tuesday 25 April 2017

Vizeum Industry Updates


Sky is expanding the inventory and platforms available for programmatic buying as it launches its second testing phase in the UK.



Advertisers start to pull spend from Google due to ads appearing beside inappropriate content.



Apple has launched their new “Apple Clips” feature which allows users to customize photos and videos before uploading them to social media accounts.



YouTube has blocked advertising on all video content with under 10,000 views in a bid to increase brand safety.



The 2016 Census figures have been released and can be found here.



JCDecaux launches two new Metropole sites- Donnybrook and Charlemont.



Twitter will begin running pre-roll ads on its video streaming service Periscope in a bid to boost ad revenue.



Facebook has introduced a new product focused ad format to allow retailers to showcase their products and increase online sales.


Vizeum's promise is to drive business value through media for our clients. Established in 2004, Vizeum is structured to take full advantage of the opportunities brought about by the digitization of media. The company manages its client business via a partner structure. This ensures that every client has senior advisors managing their business. These senior points of contact develop integrated strategies across the entire bought, owned and earned media ecosystem. We then have the specialist skills in house to deliver that strategy in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

Vizeum sponsors The Marketing Institute's Marketing Breakfast series.

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A Day in the Life of... Cathy O'Rourke, Brand Manager at Grant Thornton Ireland

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 19 April 2017
Updated: Tuesday 18 April 2017

Cathy O'Rourke Grant Thorntorn

The Marketing Institute: What does a Brand Manager do?

Cathy O’Rourke: My role as a brand manager for Grant Thornton Ireland is extremely varied. It mainly involves developing, implementing and executing marketing initiatives and activities for the firm such as coordinating the development and design of communication materials, advertising, photography and sponsorships. I mainly work with all areas of the marketing team in digital, events and business development (BD) to ensure consistency and strategy alignment.


MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

Cathy: I studied Commerce at NUIG and growing up in a family run business played a huge part in my interest in marketing and passion to work with people. After studying I worked with the Institute of Directors in Ireland. This gave me a good exposure to the different aspects of marketing, especially digital and a knowledge of the vast amount of industries in Ireland. The biggest career move for me was joining Grant Thornton as marketing administrator, finding my flair in design and brand and working my way to manager. I’ve gained a lot of experience in the different areas of marketing and always try to go further than asked of my role, which I feel is vital to succeed in marketing.


MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Cathy: Every challenge is a learning curve in the professional services industry, especially in marketing. My challenges range from guidelines, measuring campaign results offline and also trying to be different or ‘stand out from the norm’ in this very competitive, small industry of global accounting firms in Ireland.


MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

Cathy: An outgoing, open and creative personality is essential. You need to be able to adapt quickly to changes and deadlines while being a good multitasker. In my role you cannot say ‘no’ and must always have ideas to compensate for that – it’s challenging but exciting! I think something that is hugely taken for granted in any role is common sense – if you have that you can do anything you put your mind to and it’s not a skill you can learn.


MII: Describe a typical working day.

Cathy: If I had a typical working day I probably wouldn’t be in marketing as I’m not the type of person who likes to do the same thing every day! You could find me in meetings all day with different business units/industry groups, on global calls, editing design, content, articles, videos or imagery, creating advertising, doing a photoshoot, checking budgets, travelling to member firm offices (in Ireland or abroad), advising on office signage, dealing with suppliers, editing templates, working at an event, giving brand training, working with digital, BD or events and you’ll always find our team brainstorming ideas.


MII: What do you love most about your role?

Cathy: I love that each day is different and there is always an opportunity to ‘think outside the box’ but honestly, it’s the marketing team I work with.
I’m very lucky to work with such an amazing group of talented people who, no matter what, will drive your creativity and always push you to do something different. Marketing is so fast paced, challenging and forever changing but when you work with fantastic people driving the ideas it just adds to the excitement of it all. To me it’s important to work with a firm that invests in its people and I’m fortunate enough to have found that.


MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

Cathy: For the next two years my mind is focused on some really exciting projects and getting through them successfully. If I’m ever not learning or trying something new then I’ll take a step back to look forward. I think with marketing being so fast paced it’s impossible to know in what area you might end up.


MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

Cathy: I’m lucky to say all my mentors have been leading women in the professional services industry and for the past few years they have been a wonderful inspiration and guidance to me. I also look to my parents for inspiration, no matter how hard I think I’m working, they are always working harder and continue to drive me forward.


You can read all the A Day in the Life features here.

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AIM Awards: Meet the Judges

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 12 April 2017

The adjudication process for our All Ireland Marketing Awards took place over the past two weeks in the Marketing Institute, with all finalists presenting their entries to our panel of judges.

We would like to thank our adjudicators, all of whom are members of the Marketing Institute, for their time and expertise. With the Awards night one month away, we'd like to introduce them to you.


Nicola Weldon

Nicola Weldon, IOI Meats Marketing Director, Kerry Foods

Nicola Weldon holds the position of Marketing Director for the Meats Portfolio within Kerry Foods.   The meats portfolio consists of some of Ireland’s most loved brands, Denny, Galtee, Shaw, Ballyfree, Fire & Smoke, and the most recently launched Henry Denny’s Meat Masters brand.   Nicola is in her eighth year with Kerry foods. During her time,  Nicola has led out on significant growth strategies across the branded portfolio, including first to market innovation of Ireland’s Only All Natural Ingredients ham,  the re-launch of Ireland’s Best Tasting Sausage – Denny Gold Medal, and the launch of  Fire & Smoke in 2015. Nicola has also led out the hugely exciting launch of the new brand to the family in 2017, Henry Denny’s Meat Masters.
Nicola has over 14 years marketing experience within the FMCG sector. She holds a MSC in Marketing, and diplomas in PR & Event Management, and Digital Marketing.


Tim Bicknell

Tim Bicknell, General Manager, RaboDirect

Tim Bicknell is General Manager of RaboDirect in Ireland. He has a background in Marketing, Digital Transformation and Management Consulting across the Financial Services and Energy sectors. He is also a Mentor with Enterprise Ireland supporting a number of High Potential Start-Ups to develop & launch their businesses commercially.



Peter McPartlin

Peter McPartlin, CEO, MediaCom

Peter has over 30 years’ experience in the Irish marketing and communications business, working with some of the country’s largest agencies, including Aegis Media (Carat & Vizeum), Irish International and OMD Ireland.
Peter has also worked in a business consultancy capacity to a number of media companies, including INM, UTV, The Irish Times, JC Decaux and the Newsbrands Ireland.
He was CEO of Today FM, Ireland’s largest independent radio station, for four years to December 2015. In his tenure there, Peter helped to overhaul the station’s presenter line-up, rebuild its revenue base, grow its digital footprint and led the station to become National Station of the Year in 2014. He was also the driving force behind the launch of the Dublin alternative rock station, TXFM.
He returned agency-side in 2016 and has taken the position of Chief Executive of content and connections agency, MediaCom Ireland, working with clients such as Coca Cola, Mars, Sky and Ryanair.
He has been actively involved at industry level with the Marketing Society, the Irish Direct Marketing Association, the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland, as well as industry research bodies for the TV, radio and OOH sectors and a board member of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland. 


aedamar howlettAedamar Howlett, Marketing Director GB&I Coca-Cola

Aedamar began her career in stockbroking before taking a sales role in Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH) in 1996, where she held a number of sales, category management, channel management and CCH brand management roles. She moved to The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) in 2001 as brand manager for Sprite. Since then, she has held a number of marketing, innovation & commercial leadership roles and was appointed Country Manager for Ireland in 2010. Aedamar left TCCC at end 2011 to set up a commercial consultancy business with clients including Kelloggs Europe, Heineken and Telefonica. Aedamar returned to TCCC as Country Manager, Ireland in June 2015 and was appointed Marketing Director for GB&I in October 2016.  She holds a degree in Economics & Business Studies from Trinity College Dublin. 


Bairbre Drury Byrne

Bairbre Drury Byrne, Sales & Marketing Director, Clear Channel Ireland

With over 10 years experience in the Outdoor Industry, Bairbre is a member of the Joint National Outdoor Research (JNOR) Technical Committee and Outdoor Media Association (OMA) Marketing Committee. Prior to joining Clear Channel Bairbre held senior marketing roles in both Jurys Doyle Hotel Group and British Midland Airways. She studied BESS in Trinity College Dublin and holds a Masters in Strategic International Marketing from Dublin City University.


deirdre waferDeirdre Wafer, EMEA Insights Manager, LinkedIn

Deirdre leads the Insights team for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions in EMEA and works to deliver value to big brand and media agency clients from Linkedin’s unique first party data. Through leadership and a passion for insight led thinking Deirdre inspires fresh, effective marketing and customer led communications to drive positive change.  

Prior to joining Linkedin, Deirdre had an established career in marketing working in a diverse range of industries for companies including Virgin Media, Liberty Insurance, Meteor Mobile, AXA and Bank of Ireland.

Deirdre is an advocate of client side marketers, agencies and other stakeholders working collaboratively as change agents to deliver world class results.



Geraldine O'LearyGeraldine O'Leary, Commercial Director, RTÉ Television


Geraldine O’Leary, a Psychology graduate from University College Cork, has worked in the advertising industry since graduation.  Agencies she has worked with include Brian Cronin and Associates, DDFH&B, Saatchi & Saatchi and Zenith Media.  

Geraldine joined RTÉ in 1997 as Manager Television Sales and was promoted to Director Sales and Marketing in 1999.   In 2003, she was appointed to her current role, Commercial Director RTÉ Television, and is a member of the RTÉ TV Board.  Her area of responsibility includes all advertising and sponsorship revenue on RTÉ TV, the latter which now encompasses Advertiser Supported Programming and Product Placement.  Increasingly, there is a requirement for solution selling for clients and she is actively driving 360 degree initiatives across RTÉ.  She is a huge believer in the power of relationships and believes RTÉ have a unique role in the market in this area.

Geraldine is a Fellow of The Marketing Institute of Ireland and Director of TAM Ireland and is a regular Chairperson/Speaker at Industry Conferences and Seminars.  She is a Board Member of egta(European Group of Television Advertising) which has over 100 members across Europe and meets regularly to focus on common challenges and opportunities across markets. She was the President of the egta Board from 2009 – 2011. 

Geraldine recently completed a Diploma in Executive Coaching with the Irish Management Institute.



John O'Callaghan

John O'Callaghan, Trade Marketing Manager – On-trade, Heineken

John has worked for Heineken since 2009, initially within the Brand Marketing team responsible for a number of brands including Coors Light, Foster’s Murphy’s and Beamish Stout. At the beginning of 2016 he moved to his current role leading Trade Marketing for the On-trade. John had worked with Beamish & Crawford for 19 years in a number of brand roles, including seven years as Marketing Director.
Prior to this John worked for a number of years for the RNLI with responsibility for fund-raising and Public Relations in Ireland –thus water and beer have been a constant presence for him!


John trainorJohn Trainor, founder and CEO, Onside

John is founder and CEO of ONSIDE, one of Europe's leading Sponsorship Consultancy firms. He has more than 15 years’ experience of working with sponsors and rights holders across multiple sectors and platforms, influencing over €50m of sponsorship spend annually through his work in Ireland and Europe with many of the world's biggest and best brands. John is a recipient of a Fellowship from the Marketing Institute of Ireland for his contribution to the industry in Ireland and is the elected Irish Board Member of the European Sponsorship Association.


Teresa BrophyTeresa Brophy, Consumer and Trade Marketing Manager, Bord Bia 

Teresa Brophy is the Consumer and Trade Marketing Manager with Bord Bia and has responsibility for the strategic development of sales of Irish food in the domestic market. Her main focus is on devising business strategies and annual consumer marketing programmes for food with the Bord Bia Quality Mark. Teresa works in close consultation with key industry stakeholders to devise these strategies and liaises with the retail and foodservice trade in terms of maximising the impact of marketing programmes at trade level.


Yvonne KielyYvonne Kiely, Director, Customer Practice and Digital Lead, EY

Yvonne is a Director in EY’s Performance Improvement practice, specialising in Customer and Digital. Leading
programs across utilities, retail, technology and fs, Yvonne has worked at home here in Ireland, in the US,
Canada, UK and Australia focusing on design and implementation of customer centric organisations,
leveraging the digital value chain, and optimising marketing effectiveness to drive differential customer
experience and sustainable lifetime value. 
Before this, Yvonne worked in industry across technology, telecommunications, and financial services in a
range of roles. She holds a B Comm from NUI Galway and a MSc (Marketing) from DCU.


Joanne GrantJoanne Grant, Managing Director, JCDecaux ireland

Joanne has been with JCDecaux since 1997 and was appointed Managing Director of the company in October 2009.  

In February 2007 Joanne took on the role of Project Director to lead the team in the implementation of the Dublin City Council public realm contract including most notably the development and implementation of the very successful dublinbikes scheme.  

Before joining JCDecaux Joanne spent 12 years in the drinks industry in a number of sales and marketing roles.

Joanne is a Chartered Director and is a member of the Developing Committee of the Institute of Directors Northern Ireland.  She is a director of the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) and a director of the Joint National Outdoor Research Association (JNOR).  

She is currently President of the France Ireland Chamber of Commerce (FICC).

Joanne has also sat on the Corporate Fundraising Committee of the Simon Community in Northern Ireland for 15 years and joined the board of the organisation in May 2012.


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