Category List Icon All Articles

You don’t make the work, you are the work. And other Kinsale Shark tales.

Wow, that was intense.

The rebooted Kinsale Sharks 2018 was as raucous and inspirational as ever.

Gone was the infamous sit down Gala Awards Ceremony (Bloody right that’s Trevor Beattie at the next table), and instead the festival organisers served up a cracking lineup of speakers, including the legendary Mark Denton and Nils Leonard – to name just two.

It wasn’t Mark Denton’s iconic outdoor work for Nike and Wrangler that stuck in the mind (that was already firmly fixed – Michael Jordan versus Isaac Newton anyone?), it was that when a great idea takes shape in his
imagination he doesn’t rest until it finds form in the world. Here’s a man who believes that a great idea shouldn’t die before it’s had the chance to live. To hell with the whim of a client lacking faith in a thought, Mark Denton makes up for it in abundance. And when his belief in an idea’s potential is harnessed with unwavering self-belief he creates work that transcends its initial iteration.

That same creative drive, one that’s reluctant to bend to a higher authority other than the work itself, was also a theme of Nils Leonard’s talk. Uncommon is founded on the principal of only working with brands that share a common belief to ‘make a difference’ in the world, and if those brands are in short supply then the team at Uncommon will create them, such as Halo, the world’s first compostable coffee capsule.

He passionately expressed the need for agencies to be stronger about backing their own ideas instead of waiting for approval. It reminded me of a Seth Godin quote that what makes someone a professional is that they can
be unsupervised, but instead we are all too guilty of waiting for approval before acting on our better instincts.

And when you follow your better instincts you will uncover great work. What are the things that stir you? What makes you angry? What do you care about more than anything else. What pisses you off? These are the questions Nils Leonard asks of himself and it’s reflected in his work. Like Mark Denton, it demonstrates a level of personal investment in the work that elevates it beyond the ordinary.

Like any creative work, its merits, or lack of, can be debated a million different ways from an infinite number of perspectives, but one thing that is irrefutable is an aura of passion radiating from work that’s born of a deep personal investment. That care does shine through.

It also shone through in terms of the work that was recognised by the judges this year. Of course, like at any advertising awards show, that recognition was as predictable as it was unpredictable, with Golds for already iconic work including Wieden+Kennedy’s Nike Nothing beats a Londoner film, Energy BBDO’s Prescribed to Death campaign, as well as the beautifully crafted film work by Nexus for Wimbledon and the Winter Olympics.

Irish advertising more than held its own on the International stage, and at Boys + Girls we were delighted to take home 7 Sharks for a myriad of different clients, including Energia, Irish Heart Foundation, ŠKODA and Three.

But as I absorbed all the wonderful work I was reminded of the fact that while the briefs come and go, as we move quickly from one campaign to the next, and while this months work is on air and we’re already thinking about next year, there’s one constant – you.

As the great copywriter, Paul Fishlock, once said: “If you don’t enjoy writing it, you can sure as fuck bet nobody will enjoy reading it.” So don’t just do your job, throw yourself into it. Invest every ounce of your being, and leave nothing behind knowing you will resurface in the work, and find new form in unexpected and brilliant ways.

This article first appeared in Little Black Book