Working as a directors rep for one of the most prestigious film production companies in the world has meant that I’ve been lucky enough to attend heaps of award shows. I’ve been sent to network in sunny Cannes, invited to attend the super fancy APA show in the oh-so-glamorous Guildhall, I’ve mingled at D&AD and partied with press at the Shots Awards. It’s safe to say, I’ve probably been to most of these gigs by now and I know what to expect… You have to dress up, have an awkward picture with your colleagues holding your award and then spend the rest of the evening watching everyone in the industry slowing drunkenly lose control and sometimes their shoes - true story.
When my bosses explained the concept of Kinsale, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty confused. Why the hell were they about to send me to a small village in Ireland? Was this some mad ploy to get rid of me? What could possibly be there that’s worthwhile enough to fly creatives, producers and executives out to a cold, tiny fishing village in the middle of nowhere? Little did I know, my mind was about to be blown - by the opportunities, people and creative talent at one of the most humble awards I’ve ever attended. I mean, what other events shows have you been to that you can be watching an insightful talk one minute and partaking in an egg and spoon race the next?
Before I set off for Kinsale, I knew very little about the festival and what to expect. I packed my bag full of last minute Asos orders consisting of warm jumpers and fur-lined coats. So off I set, ready for my Irish advertising adventure. Whenever I head to these industry events, especially still being fairly new to them, I get major anxiety… What if I’m staying miles away? What wristbands do I need? I hope I know where everyone’s going to be?! As soon as we touched down, I knew it was 100% not something to get anxious about. This was quite possibly the most inclusive event I’ve ever been to.
From the moment I arrived, the atmosphere was calm and welcoming. All reps worked together to make sure everyone felt included. There were no competitive vibes in sight (apart from the world-famous Mcasso darts competition) and we all formed one big advertising family immediately. Everyone understood we were there to learn, network and be a part of something exciting. No pushy, fake or egotistical chats - just brilliant talks and inspiring conversations.
One thing I did notice this year was the huge influence and emerging theme of music in the awards. Creatively our directors love being able to work with some of the best global artists on their music videos as it allows them to create without the restrictions that the ad world sometimes places on them. It was an even better feeling getting awarded for the hard work our directors have put into music videos this year with SEVEN GOLD SHARKS overall (WOO HOOO!). Warner Music also created a strong presence with an awesome wrap party showcasing some of their best new talent and smashed it. Nice one music world.
A key moment overall for me was at the very end of the festival. A few of us sat down for breakfast and discussed our Kinsale experience and turns out we all enjoyed it so much more than others we’ve visited. We chatted about how it felt like we were all on one big school trip, the sun was out and the vibes were great. The talks were relatable, honest and authentic - you actually learnt stuff! There were no wristbands and therefore no manic searching for wristband collection points or wanky invites to parties up in the hills.
This was the first event we had all attended that felt truly equal across age, job roles and different countries. The event was the first I’d been to where you could talk to someone for half an hour before you talk about each other’s roles. I met and had valuable conversations with more people in my first hour in Kinsale than I did during an entire week in Cannes.
If I had to take one thing away from my trip here, it’s that we need to keep it this way! We have to make sure brands don’t come in and steal the show because at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be about anything else other than the work and the people that make that work. We need to make sure the whole festival remains inviting and everyone can be involved. We need to make sure we keep Kinsale just like this - down to earth. IT’S WHAT MAKES IT SO FUCKING REFRESHING.