Year that was


Breandan O Broin

Coolbrands are arbiters of which brands are cool or uncool in the UK. Coolbrands comprises a collective of stylistas, fashionistas, designers, media gurus and self-styled zeitgesters. Ego deficiency is not their biggest problem. It's fair to wonder at whether being rated cool by Coolbrands is the marketing equivalent of the curse of Hello magazine.

Cool is like style, once you proclaim it, you're probably past your cool-by-date. The coolest brands in the UK are the entirely predictable Apple, Aston Martin, iPhone and iPods of the big brand universe. As cutting edges go, this seems fairly blunt.

Delve deeper into the findings and you unearth regional variances. If your desire is to be uber-cool in the West Midlands, your acceptance into the Birmingham bling brigade is to drive a Porsche and have an accessory blonde who brazenly sports Agent Provocateur under her shortest skirt and see-through blouse. It is clearly a contradiction in terms; the very negation of cool except in the literal sense of a cold breeze blowing up your knickers.

Brummies are not and never will be overly-concerned with cool. Saturday shopping at the Bullring, Visa at the ready, followed by a night on the tiles on Broad Street is as cutting edge as it gets. Anyway, here's O Broin's Brand Valuations, an arbitrary process and highly unscientific, but not alien to the way an average punter might or might not think.

Brand A – Aer Lingus: There's a yawning disparity emerging between Aer Lingus the brand and Aer Lingus the airline as management seeks to shed staff and cut costs. It's hard for a customer to ‘Enjoy your flight' as the advertising exhorts when it is crystal clear that the people looking after you are not enjoying their work. Aer Lingus is slowly and surely on the runway to becoming Aer Ryanair. Is this what management, staff and consumers want?

Brand B – Black: Cool advertising dudes always wore black, so did Johnny Cash and you can't get cooler than JC. Now we have a black F1 champion, black West Indian millionaire cricket superstars and a black US president, not to mention the unbeatable All Blacks. Black is back with a bang, not that its appeal has ever really faded.

Brand C – Credit Crunchies: A new brand concept for a market-boosting cereal aimed at the financial services sector and ad agency credit controllers. Credit crunchies contain extra vitamins and minerals to regularise cash-flow, recapitalise your ying, improve your yang deficiencies and eliminate toxic wastes. Special mention to Cully & Sully, winners in the ST Comforting & Contemporary Category and the great packs designed by Brand Union.

Brand D – Dermot: Dermot Cafferky, who died last year. US economist Warren Bennis said “leaders are people who do the right things, managers are people who do things right – there's a profound difference”. Dermot was a leader; who through his work at Arrow Advertising gave life to the industry that lives on today (DDFH&B et al). Ar dheis De go raibh se.

Brand E – Eflow: We may grow to accept it, but will we ever grow to love it? A classic marketing challenge lies ahead to convince motorists of the value a road tolling system has to offer. We foresee big-budget TV commercials, not unlike another e-brand, ESB.

Brand F – Funderland: While FAS made a late (but first-class) run on the rails in the Cocoa Beach Awareness Stakes, it's now time for the Deep Winter Handicap. You're feeling low, so get down to the RDS and give yourself a cheap thrill, a queasy tummy and a taste of the tough ride that awaits everyone in marketing land. Seriously, if ever you need to discover and cherish your inner child, this will be the year. Take care out there, particularly of each other. No opportune redundancy programmes permitted. Agency bosses, take note.

Brand G – GAA : As other sporting bodies (who whispered FAI?) struggle to hold lucrative sponsorship deals, the GAA will sail serenely on, eagerly supported by national, international, multinational and extra-terrestrial companies all trying to coat-tail the most successful fan-based organisation in the entire world. Ask the GAA to organise the London Olympics and they'd manage it not a bother and still have time for Sunday Mass.

Brand H – Hughes & Hughes: Books by the shelf-load, assistants who haven't read everything ever written so you don't feel too intimidated to ask for advice and Costa Coffee with a free view of Dun Laoghaire Harbour… Irish too, just perfect brand harmony.



Cork footballer Graham Canty, Nicky Doran head of marketing, Bord G

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