Trends and Insight in association withSynapse Virtual Production

Boys + Girls Unveils 'Entertain or Die!' - its Radical Approach to Advertising

Advertising Agency
Dublin, Ireland
Patrick Meade, managing partner of Boys + Girls explains the agency's new brand philosophy
“Ten years since first opening the doors and now, as Ireland’s biggest, independently owned agency with 55 staff, a €10 million turnover and a blue-chip client list of major national and international brands, we set ourselves a challenge, What’s Next? As an agency, where will our next ten years of growth and expansion come from and how can we help clients build real and sustainable brand value that’s also engaging and commercially rewarding for them?" said Patrick Meade, managing partner of Boys + Girls, as the agency unveils its new multi-platform entertainment approach to advertising which will help brands to push boundaries and create ground-breaking work that gets noticed.  

Put simply Boys + Girls have embraced a new advertising and brand-building philosophy that’s embodied in the mantra of ‘Entertain or Die!’ It’s the only valid answer, they believe, to the compelling industry question of the moment. Namely, ‘In this attention economy how does Advertising Stop being an Interruption and instead be so good that people will seek it out rather than avoid it?’ And this new approach makes even more sense in the context of some sobering insights: 
  • According to Hubspot, 91 % say advertising is intrusive. 
  • 64% of people think advertising is annoying (source: HubSpot). 
  • Andrew Essex in his book ‘The End of Advertising: Why it had to Die and the Creative Resurrection to Come’, talks about ‘The Plague of Infobesity’, referencing the levels of information overload received via the internet, smartphones and social media, noting the impact on how we receive, process and engage with that content.  
  • And finally, that even work that can appear to be successful is often not – with digital ad-fraud (ad’s that are paid for but never seen by an actual human) estimated to be a €21billion industry in the US alone.
As a first of its type in Ireland, this new Entertainment-centred advertising philosophy embraces a much broader vision for the possibilities of advertising. One that’s flexible and future-proofed, allowing brands to move past barriers such as Ad blockers, the frustrations of Programmatic, disengagement and constant changes in how consumers receive and experience brand communications. 
Brand Relevance - 
Being relevant is a priority for most brands. But to do that as we approach a new decade and beyond, they need to re-imagine their approach. That’s the essence of what Boys + Girls is offering - the capacity and capability to create work that might not even be recognisable as advertising in its regular form but which is eye-catching, engaging, experiential and brand-building. Put simply they believe in creating attention demanding work for ambitious businesses through the lens of entertainment.
How the new approach works - 
The agency cites recent work with long-term client Three as an example of this new form. Three Mobile have been venturing further from marketing’s beaten track than ever before. In the past 18 months Three have gone from producing ads that talk about their music sponsorship to getting involved in making music.
By taking a step away from brand promises and moving into brand demonstration, Three have managed to produce even more interesting and more effective work. In order to demonstrate their brand purpose of a ‘Better Connected Life’, Boys+Girls has been working with Three to turn Arranmore, an island off the coast of Donegal into the ‘Most Connected Island in the World’. The campaign is working with islanders to use connectivity to improve issues like healthcare and environmental conservation while helping local industries like fishing and tourism to survive and thrive.
Last year’s ‘Made By Music’ campaign saw them produce music videos for up and coming artists that went on to become the best performing advertising campaign YouTube had ever run globally. This year Three have gone further to produce collaborative music tracks, using music to connect the brand to a valuable audience. Creating culture not claptrap.
Rory Hamilton, Boys + Girls partner and executive creative director said: “The shift in how brands are thinking beyond the traditional parameters of advertising has already begun. Smart businesses recognise the power of creativity to have a measurable effect on their results.  Who see that the more entertaining the work the more it is remembered, the less money you have to spend forcing it down people’s throats.  They understand The Smuggle. My information in exchange for your attention. It sounds simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.’

In terms of an exemplar of a brand that has moved into an Entertainment approach, Skittles, when faced with a brief last year for a Superbowl ad, produced a Broadway musical starring Michael C. Hall of TV’s Dexter fame. By producing a campaign that was nothing like an ad, Skittles wound up producing the most-talked-about Super Bowl ad of the year and winning every major advertising award along the way. This wasn’t a TV ad dressed up as a musical, it was the real thing. People went to a theatre and paid good money to go and see a musical about their brand.
And as for brands working in more conservative segments? Well, last year Johnson and Johnson stepped away from the usual to produce an incredibly moving documentary called ‘5B’ heroing the nurses and doctors on the front line of the Aids Epidemic in the early 1980’s. They told an important story that spoke to their brand values, turning the notion of paid media on its head. Their brand wound up appearing in film festivals and advertising awards around the world, something their advertising could never do.

In conclusion, Patrick Meade added: “As humans, we’re a combination of the rational (left brain) and emotional (right brain). In between lies a space where a creative spark captures our imagination and engages us. Our job is to find that most pertinent rational benefit and smuggle it within entertaining work that consumers actively want to engage with. This is a serious business. It’s not for the faint hearted and only the entertaining work will succeed.’