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A Day in the Life of... Darren O'Reilly, Chief Marketing Officer at Member First

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 14 November 2018
Updated: Monday 12 November 2018

Darren O'Reilly Friends First

What does a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Member First do?

As CMO, I lead the strategic marketing and communication functions in Member First, which is one of the largest community banks in Ireland. Member First was formed by several large mergers and acquisitions facilitated by the Central Bank of Ireland to create a modern-day, digital first Credit Union. My remit is further extended to drive our digital transformation and lead our customer experience teams which involves overseeing our customer contact centre and our credit departments. As you can see the CMO role in the Credit Union industry has vastly changed. It is an exciting and challenging role that extends far beyond just brand and eyeballs. The CMO's role is to drive both business performance and lead cultural change. I could be cheeky and reframe the question to read what does the CMO not do?


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

A lifetime in financial services, clocking in 10 years now (even though I might not look old enough!). I originally started out as an accountant before realising I had a personality (That’s a running joke I tell my ex-accountant colleagues). I believe this foundation in business and accounting has made me the strategic marketeer that I am today. I was fortunate to work with ambitious organisations that gave me the autonomy to try new and innovative marketing campaigns. Having this free reign at such a young age provided me with a profile that opened many doors for me. I was named Young Professional of the Year in 2013 which started my international speaking career. Since then I have delivered talks around the globe on the topics of marketing and digital strategy. In 2016 I was voted top 10 speaker at WCUC, an international conference, alongside some world class speakers. And more recently, in 2018 I was named Early Career - Marketing & Communications Professional of the Year. I’ve been very lucky.


What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Customer retention is a challenge as the competition in the financial services sector has increased significantly in recent years and not just from the traditional main street banks. Consumers can now avail of credit at point of purchase such as car finance and retailers who offer credit solutions. Further several technology companies have now entered the lending industry and are shaking things up. Luckily brand loyalty and retention amongst our customers is high and we have ranked number one for customer experience for the fourth year in a row in the CXi Ireland Customer Experience Report. We continue to see year on year growth in loan sales and new account opening. However, we can’t get complacent and we continue to work on our loyalty and retention programmes to ensure we always deliver and remain relevant to our customers. From a personal perspective, the biggest challenge I face daily is time, there is never, ever as much of it as I would like!


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

What I have come to realise as I have moved into increasingly senior roles is that soft skills go a long way to putting your hard skills to good use. You obviously must have the technical ability to do the job but if you cannot lead and inspire a team you will never get the best results. The ability to empathise, communicate, have difficult conversations, challenge the status quo and inspire and lead a team are often given less attention than hard skills, yet learning to hone my soft skills and apply myself in this area is when my career really took off.


Describe a typical working day.

My day begins the night before where I plan out my key priorities for the next day and review my schedule, that way I am prepared for the following morning. My brain is most productive in the morning, so my day starts early where I do some of my strategising or more ‘heavy’ work before the teams start arriving to the office. Communication is key in the role and my mornings are spent touching base with my teams in various meetings and ensuring we are on track with all projects. Afternoons are generally spent on more strategic level work with our senior management team. I also consultant with the World Council of Credit Unions so I often find myself punching in some extra hours in the evening on international marketing projects with my colleagues in the United States. 


What do you love most about your role?

I love connecting with people through marketing. I am curious and passionate about understanding people. Not just the textbook stuff but really understanding ‘real people’ and applying this to Brand and Marketing strategies to make an impact. I have a huge interest in well-being & most recently completed my studies in Neuroscience which has allowed me to bring this personal interest in human behavior into a corporate setting and drive my marketing strategies.


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

I am always open to embracing new challenges. I am passionate about marketing and keen to further develop as a marketeer and eventually apply my skillset outside the financial services industry. As the ultimate goal is to be a well-rounded marketing leader with diverse experience – not just a one trick pony! For me it is all about learning and growth, if I am not learning it’s time to move on and challenge myself.


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

I look to marketing leaders in all industries for inspiration. I love leaders who bring their whole-self to the office – authentic and transparent. For example, Bozoma Saint John the Chief Marketing Officer at Endeavor and previously the Chief Brand Officer at Uber is someone I admire for being unapologetically herself and owning it. You do you, everyone else is already taken! I’m a big believer in ongoing coaching and personal development so I regularly work with a mentor to keep me on track with my personal and professional goals.

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Media Terminology Guide: Do you know your SSP from your DMP?

Posted By Pt78, Wednesday 14 November 2018
Updated: Monday 12 November 2018


media terminology

Effective communication usually starts with everyone speaking, or at the very least understanding, the same language.  We find this to be particularly true in successful agency-client relationships.  Our fast-evolving media landscape has resulted in a host of new acronyms and media terminology and quite simply, it can be hard to keep up. 

In an attempt to remove the brain ache of wondering what an SSP, AdX or CPM is, Pt78 has created a Media Terminology Guide which we hope will be an easy ‘go to’ for all client-side marketers and advertisers.  It may not answer all of your queries but they hope it will address most of them……..and if you come across a new acronym in your media planning that they haven’t included here, they have told us that they are open to suggestions for inclusion in version 2!


Click here to read the guide.


About Pt78:

Pt78 offers a range of services designed to maximise the return on your marketing and media investment.  We provide expert consultants who drive increased performance in Marketing Procurement, Marketing Strategy, Marketing Operations and Marketing Capabilities.  

We are passionate about marketing effectiveness and we believe in a no nonsense, jargon-free approach to the evaluation of all marketing investment.  To find out more, please contact us.



twitter: @pt78global


The media terminology guide was first published on

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Meet the Speaker: Q&A with Fiacre O'Donnell of Encirc

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 7 November 2018
Updated: Tuesday 6 November 2018

Fiacre O'Donnell encirc

Fiacre O'Donnell will speak at our upcoming Marketing Breakfast in partnership with MCCP, where he will talk us through Encirc's journey of transformation and growth.

Fiacre joined Encirc in 1998. Having held a number of different roles, he was appointed strategic development director earlier this year. This role, which includes marketing and communications, also focuses on innovation and sustainability. An MBA graduate from the Ulster business school, he won the Drinks Business ‘Green personality of the year’ in 2016 for the work undertaken to improve sustainability throughout the business and was also listed in the top 100 of 2016 by the Manufacturer for his work supporting sustainability and innovation. He is a board member of British glass, the representative body for the glass industry and a member of the BITC NI environmental leadership team.

What would you consider are some of your career highlights?

Winning the green personality award was quite nice recognition, but seeing a business grow from infancy right through to where it is now and all the highs and lows that you go through with that, has been amazing

What are the main challenges facing your industry at the moment?

Availability of labour, adoption of technology, continued focus on solutions to our goal of glass as the packaging of the future 

What’s one piece of advice would you give your 25-year old self?

Talk more to people both inside and outside the organisation. It is amazing what solutions you can find when you share information.


Looking towards the next 12 months, what do you hope to achieve?

We have recently launched an internal programme called engage. My hope is to have the various aspects of this that relate to our CSR project embedded within our business.

Your favourite recent marketing campaign and why (from any brand/ company)?

Budweiser Drone delivery ad – embracing technology along with an industry we work very closely with.

One reason we should attend The Marketing Breakfast Series in partnership with MCCP with you?

We will take you through our process for developing our new strategy and open share the pain and joy of this process.


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The 10 Must Be’s: How to put the Customer at the heart of your business whilst driving career success

Posted By Sandra Lawler, Founder Director, Alternatives, Wednesday 7 November 2018
Updated: Tuesday 6 November 2018

 10 must be's for marketers


How do you remain a relevant and valued strategic partner that helps your organisation put the customer at the centre of its business, whilst ensuring your own personal career success? Here are 10 must be’s…


1. Be the Trends Agent.

Be constantly curious about your Market- the global one. The massively evolving market place, with new industries completely disrupting old. Be the eyes and ears from the outside in. Know where it’s happening and be the conduit of change into your organisation. Beg, borrow and steal interesting business models from other sectors. Understand the impact of online and help imagine long term opportunities. 

2. Be the tech champion.

Get trained in IT. Be IOT curious. Don’t wait to get impacted but explore the positive impact of how this evolving digital world can help your business improve margins, distribution, communications and engagement. Be AI aware. It’s here already.

3. Be the customer consulting department.

Have a passion for the consumer, always wanting to understand more. Know every segment like you know your family and friends. Ensure your organisation understands, innovates for and engages with all generations and segments of consumers.

4. Be the interpreter and story-teller.

Own Data, yes, but not for the joy of running models and analysing stats. Rather for the joy of knowing what’s important to know, interpreting data concisely, providing insight, and communicating it all through simple stories across the organisation. 

5. Be the translator.

Of data led insight into Segmented Strategy because business success is achieved at segment level. Help develop differentiated value propositions that do just that- provide real value to each target segment. 

6. Be the CEX Orchestrator.

Step out of your silo and form a true, holistic and single view of the customer. Plan in the detail, then activate and motivate the business to deliver a seamless and superior journey that delights. 

7. Be the creator of purpose.

Create powerful and trusted brands that are beacons. That express their clear purpose and values, both those working to create it and those who choose to be its customers and consumers. 

8. Be the engager.

Challenge, discover, delight, inspire, engage. In real time, on a personal level, online and offline. Deliver through deep understanding, powerful, creative, bold ideas that engage and create results across all platforms. 

9. Be the speaker of languages.

See every function, every stakeholder as a segment. Know their needs, their perspectives as you would your customers. As you would with your customers, talk to them in their language. Maybe “brand” means “brand” to some. Maybe it means “reputation” to others. Maybe talk results, rather than the stuff you’ve created. Use language to connect people to the market and the customer, across functions. 

10. Be obsessed.

With results and return. With effectiveness. Make advanced tools your friends to target and measure. Know every “return on” there is. Use it to reinforce your stories of success.


About Sandra Lawler

Sandra Lawler is Founder Director of Alternatives, a flexible talent solutions business, specialising in marketing, digital, data and customer focused talent. Alternatives helps businesses and great people achieve their growth ambitions.

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GAA Sponsors Shine Through In Bright Summer For Irish Sport

Posted By ONSIDE, Wednesday 24 October 2018

summer of sponsorship

L-R: Rory Best, Gemma Bell (Bank of Ireland), John Trainor (ONSIDE)

In what was a busy sporting summer of FIFA soccer, hockey world cups and an historic haul of Irish athletes achieving podium success, 6 of the Top 10 stand-out sponsors of Summer 2018 revealed by sponsorship consultants ONSIDE and the MII at a major business of sponsorship conference this week were GAA sponsors. 


The end of summer ONSIDE survey of the Marketing Institute of Ireland’s professional marketing community has revealed that GAA sponsors AIB, has topped the list in terms of best overall sports sponsorship for the third summer in a row, while Ladies Gaelic Football sponsors Lidl took second spot. Hurling sponsors Littlewoods and Bord Gáis Energy showed best year on year improvement in how effectively they activated their GAA campaigns.


According to John Trainor, Founder and CEO of ONSIDE: “The big winner in terms of scoring above expectations was the Irish Women’s Hockey team sponsor Softco, who were ranked third best sport sponsor overall this summer by marketing professionals surveyed”.


Vodafone topped the list of brands that were top performers in the non-sports sponsorship space thanks to their Vodafone Comedy Festival sponsorship campaign, followed by Electric Ireland’s tie-up with Electric Picnic. Coca-Cola and Hyundai received strongest recognition for the effectiveness of their work on the FIFA World Cup Russia platform.


Trainor notes: “Interestingly, the research found that 1 in 4 Irish marketing professionals believe the effectiveness of sponsorship campaigns in Ireland progressed this summer, with 63% feeling the standard of sponsorship in the marketplace was similar to last summer.  With macro trends such as a rapidly changing sports media landscape and a sea of content competing for cut-through coupled with a Rugby World Cup on the horizon in 2019, marketing teams will be challenged to up the level of effectiveness of their campaigns to stand-out more effectively in 2019”.


Pointing to one route to achieve stronger gains next year, Trainor noted: “One of the stand-out success stories of 2018 shared at the ONSIDE / MII event by Bank of Ireland’s Sponsorship Manager Gemma Bell and Kevin Quinn from Leinster Rugby highlighted a proven path to breaking through any sponsorship fatigue by putting purpose at the heart of their remarkable double trophy win in May.”


Marketing professionals voted The O’Donovan brothers as the No 1 most marketable Irish sports stars for 2019 following their medal success on the water this summer, followed closely by the Irish Women’s Hockey Team, Thomas Barr and Rugby World Cup 2019 hopeful Johnny Sexton.  Looking beyond traditional media, Pippa O’Connor, The 2 Johnnies, Vogue Williams and James Kavanagh were seen as the most marketable digital influencers by the marketing budget holders of 2019.

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