AIB team wins in­dus­try back­ing

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK -

WHEN AIB be­gan to sweep up the de­bris from Ire­land’s eco­nomic crash in 2008, the im­pact on the bank was “cat­a­strophic”. Af­ter suf­fer­ing the slings and ar­rows of out­ra­geous fis­cal for­tune, con­sumers felt noth­ing had changed. The AIB brand was toxic. The bank ended up at the very bot­tom of the Edel­man Trust study. Cus­tomers were an­gry and the mar­ket­ing team was in dis­ar­ray.

Ad­dress­ing the All Ire­land Mar­ket­ing awards – aka the AIMs – show­case break­fast, AIB group brands di­rec­tor Mark Doyle said the mar­ket­ing team at the time was made up of ca­reer bankers. Bank­cen­tre staff were so em­bar­rassed that when ar­riv­ing to work by taxi it was not un­usual for them to ask the driver to drop them off at a nearby cof­fee shop.

Doyle said morale was “on the f loor” and only 3pc of the mar­ket­ing team was ‘up for it’. A ma­jor over­haul was re­quired. The am­bi­tion? To be the best mar­ket­ing team in Ire­land, bar none. As the say­ing goes, the fear isn’t that you aim too high and miss, it’s that you aim too low and suc­ceed. Re­search showed that what AIB cus­tomers wanted was a bank they could be­lieve in, which also be­lieved in them.

In a bid to “amaze” cus­tomers, they looked at the top sport­ing teams – the likes of Brian Cody’s Kilkenny hurlers, Lionel Messi’s Barcelona and the All Blacks in rugby. They rewrote ev­ery brand pro­file. They ap­pointed sto­ry­tellers and pub­lish­ers and pin­pointed tal­ent across dig­i­tal, re­search and con­sumer in­sights.

Out­side sup­port came in the shape of Bos­ton agency Mar­ket­ing Xcel­lence and Bren­dan Fo­ley’s Seachange Now agency in Dun Laoghaire. Staff needed a new work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. So they moved from a drab, lack­lus­tre open plan up to a more mod­ern set up with desks giv­ing way to work­ing in gangs and pods. ‘Back­ing Brave’ kick-started the ‘Back­ing’ ad se­ries rolled out by Rothco and Star­com.

It re­de­fined AIB as a busi­ness bank for SMEs ‘Back­ing Do­ing’ sparked a re­ac­tion in cus­tomers to act again, with home and car loans ris­ing from €5m to €15m. ‘Back­ing Be­lief’ saw the mort­gage ads with Mick & Kate and, more re­cently, Máire. Back­ing Club & County saw the GAA se­ries fronted by, among oth­ers, Kerry foot­baller Colm ‘ The Gooch’ Cooper. Doyle is now part of AIB’s team of 120 mar­keters. Af­ter “a dif­fi­cult jour­ney”, they made it. Win­ning the mar­ket­ing team award at the AIMs was a huge vote of con­fi­dence from the in­dus­try. The fact things were so bad and they had to work up from the low­est base was “a gift”. Since the re­vamp, the coun­try has re­couped €10bn from the €21bn bank bailout. Q With un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing Brexit now im­pact­ing ad­versely on vis­i­tor num­bers from Bri­tain, Tourism Ire­land is tar­get­ing commuters in Toronto as part of its lat­est over­seas ac­tiv­ity. The all-Ire­land body is run­ning ads on the city’s Go com­muter trains. The cur­rent mar­ket­ing drive high­light­ing Ire­land as a tourist des­ti­na­tion to Cana­dian world trav­ellers is in part­ner­ship with Air Transat.

It runs un­til mid-Au­gust and is ex­pected to be seen by an es­ti­mated 4.6m Cana­di­ans or po­ten­tial hol­i­day­mak­ers for the is­land of Ire­land. The public trans­port ads are sup­ported by a pro­mo­tion on Toronto’s Boom ra­dio, of­fer­ing lis­ten­ers a chance to win a trip to Dublin, so­cial me­dia ac­tiv­ity on Face­book and ads on the Air Transat web­site.

Canada is now one of Ire­land’s top 10 mar­kets. Like Aus­tralians, Cana­di­ans tend to make longer vis­its and ex­plore more widely than the av­er­age over­seas tourist com­ing to Ire­land. Last year saw 203,000 Cana­dian vis­i­tors, an in­crease of 11pc on 2015. Vis­i­tor num­bers from Canada are up by 28pc since 2014, co­in­cid­ing with di­rect f lights. Tourism Ire­land is work­ing closely with air­lines and air­ports to fur­ther build de­mand for f lights. Q John Con­can­non will take on the job as head of Taoiseach Leo Var­dakar’s new com­mu­ni­ca­tions de­part­ment in Septem­ber.

The Gal­way man was di­rec­tor of the 1916 Cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions work­ing to Her­itage Min­is­ter Heather Humphries. He helped steer The Gath­er­ing cam­paign tar­get­ing Ire­land’s di­as­pora. More re­cently, he was di­rec­tor of Cre­ative Ire­land.

Con­can­non’s FMCG mar­ket­ing cre­den­tials in­clude the na­tional roll out of HB Mag­num ice cream for Unilever. His stew­ard­ship of Fáilte Ire­land’s Dis­cover Ire­land stay­ca­tion cam­paign earned him the Mar­keter of the Year in­dus­try award in 2010. Q Else­where on the movers front, David Cullen has set up his own strate­gic con­sul­tancy called Bayes & Becker. He joined Red C 10 years ago af­ter a merger with his OI Re­search agency. A spe­cial­ist in ad­vanced an­a­lyt­i­cal mod­el­ling and tech­niques, Cullen was also a di­rec­tor of Lans­downe Mar­ket Re­search, now known as Kan­tar Mill­ward Brown. Asta Lund, has joined Ac­cen­ture In­ter­ac­tive as a se­nior man­ager. She worked in dig­i­tal roles and pre­vi­ously spent sev­eral years with In the Com­pany of Huskies and Di­a­geo. Michael Cullen is ed­i­tor of Mar­ket­; cullen@ mar­ket­

AIB group’s brands di­rec­tor, Mark Doyle. Be­low, Ac­cen­ture’s Asta Lund

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