Kinsale Again Beckons

Kinsale again beckons

At this stage the fact that the Shark awards are returning to Kinsale this September is old news, as the rumour machine had the chattering classes nodding sagely over their beers and saying “I told you so” months ago.

What may not have come across yet is the new approach to the venerable awards show which we hope will be manifest as the year progresses. A re-vitalised committee has been beavering away and lots of good things are lined up, some of them soon. Over two days at the end of May , ex- creative director of Ogilvy, London – and former Kinsale judge – Patrick Collister, will conduct half-day workshops for both copywriters and account management in Dublin under the Sharks banner.

Hosting these two workshops has been a long-held ambition and the signs are that the advertising business will see them as an important step forward. The writing workshop will feature a major initiative in the creation of radio advertising.

This will continue through the use of interactive media throughout the summer, culminating in a further event in Kinsale in September. That's the hors d'oeuvre.

In September, the Sharks jury in Kinsale will be, as usual, pretty much 'all star', led by perhaps the most recognised advertising person, this side of the Atlantic anyway, John Hegarty.

Hegarty's credentials will be known to anybody with the slightest awareness of creative excellence over the last three decades. It includes great work for Levi's, Audi and Lynx deodorant.

His work includes Probably less well-known here is Mike Hughes, long-standing creative director of The Martin Agency of Richmond, Virginia. Martin is consistently in the top ten creative agencies in the US and by virtue of its location has always had to fight the 'Madison Avenue' attitude. Both of them will be participating in the Friday morning workshop in a session that will be standing-room only. Hughes's presentation is entitled 'Everything that I have learned about advertising is wrong!', so it should fit well with another speaker , Matt Smith of The Viral Factory in London, a man who believes that most things conventional advertising does today are wrong.

The other jury members are Gerry Farrell, who has been creative director of one of the most successful out-of-London agencies for some years, The Leith Agency of Edinburgh. Farrell is seen as one of the best writers in the UK and is also no stranger to Kinsale.

Then there is Dubliner Nick Kelly, freelance creative wonder-boy (and former rock star), known to nearly everybody in adland here for his outstanding body of work and mantelpiece full of awards.

Burkhard von Scherer, creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, Berlin will also be on the panel. Finally, on the television jury, is John Moore, well-known as a commercials director in Ireland, and now an in-demand features director as well, who is about to release his remake of The Omen – on 06/06/06!

Heading up a dedicated radio jury is the highly-regarded writer of some of the best Irish radio spots, Alan Kelly of Cawley Nea\TBWA. Kelly won several gongs at the recent radio awards.

In my view, this may be the most distinguished jury ever, which is saying something given the amazing standards set by the Sharks juries in Kinsale and elsewhere continuously since 1961.

The now famous Saturday sessions, at which entertainment and education are mixed into an exciting morning cocktail (think The Simpsons, Viz…), followed by a relaxing lunch reviewing the work of the best of the crop of young directors, remains in place.

We are hoping for a record level of entries this year, as more and more international agencies are really waking up to the fact that awards at Kinsale – apart from being very hard to get – are a good way of raising their worldwide rankings in the Gunn Report.

Oh, yes, the other thing to mention is why are the Sharks going back to Kinsale? The flip answer is that it was always intended that they should, but the truth is that Kinsale has got its act rather more together than was the case three years ago.

The main hotels in the town have done substantial renovation and development and Kinsale looks less tired than it did when we left. There is little doubt that overseas delegates get a big charge from the venue itself, and here in Ireland we probably do not place sufficient value on the legendary status of it.

Overseas delegates regard it as the festival for those in the know, for those who see through the tinsel-town image of Cannes with all its razzmatazz (not to mention the cost!).

It is made for those who seek out a more satisfying experience with like-minded people, who want a little self-improvement through rubbing shoulders and debating with the best in adland.

And a bit of partying too. An awards show is fundamentally about recognising and celebrating great work and taking back to your own desk some of the lessons that come from that.

Donald Helme is chairman of Sharks 2006 and chairs Grey Helme

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