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TBWA\Dublin: “There’s Never Been Less Room For Ego”

Advertising Agency
Dublin, Ireland
Creative directors Dillon Elliott and Clayton Homer explain how the agency has rapidly pivoted to the new normal whilst putting out work that’s taken on a new relevance

L-R: Clayton Homer, Creative Director; Dillon Elliott, Creative Director

According to the European Journal of Social Psychology, it can take as few as 18 days to form a new habit. With that in mind, many of the new ways in which we’re all working, which initially seemed like a near-revolutionary upheaval, will by now be forming in our brains as regular features of everyday life. 

As a result, it seems likely that the industry which re-emerges after the Coronavirus pandemic has passed will be very different from the one that went into it. 

“The changes are happening so quickly that it’s hard to even notice them”, says Dillion Elliott, creative director at TBWA\Dublin. “Take, for example, a campaign we did a week or so ago for our client SuperValu, which is a supermarket chain in Ireland. Now, of course, they’re quite rightly seen as heroes in the community. And that totally changes how they communicate”. 

Above: SuperValu’s ad reassures customers that its shelves will remain stocked in its ‘#thereforyou’ ad from TBWA/Dublin.

"A great idea on Monday might not be relevant by Tuesday"

“The HSE campaign was such a fast-moving campaign to work on”, recalls Clayton Homer. “I suppose they all are, now, but that one especially so. We initially had a different spot lined up but the message quickly became outdated, so we had to adapt and replace it. It’s all about that ability to react quickly and adapt to the way things are on that day. A great idea on Monday might not be relevant anymore on Tuesday”.

For TBWA\Dublin, whose clients include Ireland’s Health Service Executive and the Department of the Taoiseach, as well as Samaritans, there’s no question that the pandemic has brought about a faster way of working. 

“It’s lightning-fast, absolutely’, explains Dillon. “Usually you might have time to sit down, have a coffee, and bounce ideas off each other. But the way things have been working you may not even have a couple of hours. However, the client of course totally understands and is on the same page with that.”

Above: Ireland’s Health Service Executive’s animated ad keeps the public informed regarding COVID-19 symptoms, and the right steps to take.

Far from being detrimental to client/agency communications, the dramatic shift to remote working seems to be forging stronger relationships. “To be honest,” says Clayton, “it feels really wonderful to be working in an environment where everyone’s coming together and working above and beyond, especially when the work you’re doing has a clear public benefit”. 

“It’s awfully cliche”, agrees Dillon, “but it really does feel like we’re better connected to our clients than ever before. There’s absolutely a mutual respect and understanding, and that can only be good for the work that comes out of it. There’s a campaign, for example, that we did with Samaritans very recently that was really lovely. They’ve been identified as a frontline service which maybe people wouldn’t immediately recognise, so it’s really an honour to draw attention to that, and I’m proud of the way we did it.” 

Above: A series of print ads for Samaritans, which was created in collaboration with volunteers in the charity’s Dublin branch.

"It feels like the world needs to change for the better"

For Clayton and Dillon, there’s a clear sense of public duty attached to the work the agency is doing, which has been heightened during the pandemic. “It suddenly feels like the world needs to change for the better, and we’re all part of that”, explains Dillon. 

“There’s never been less room for ego in the workplace than there is right now”, says Clayton. “We’ve all got to pull together to make stuff happen, everybody in the chain of communications. Sometimes that involves thinking outside the box, and coming up with a solution we wouldn’t have thought possible”.

That outside-the-box thinking is present in the agency’s most recent campaign, for StillHere, a domestic abuse campaign set up in association with Ireland’s Department for Justice & Equality. For the first time since lockdown began, the agency used live action to shoot the ad.

Above: The agency’s ad for the StillHere domestic abuse awareness campaign was shot on FaceTime, and directed using Zoom.

"There's an all-pervading sense of duty about the work we're doing right now"

“I do feel there’s an all-pervading sense of duty about the work that we’re doing right now for these clients. And I don’t mean that in a high-and-mighty way at all, it’s if anything quite a humbling thing that we, like everyone else, need to be doing our bit. For sure that will involve doing some things that we’re not used to, but it’s so important that these messages get out there”, says Clayton.

For Dillon and Clayton, it’s clear that the pandemic is already a defining experience, the effects of which will continue in day-to-day life long after the crisis has passed. “I really strongly, genuinely believe that we’re going to come out of this stronger than when we went into it”, says Dillon. “I think it will teach us a lot about how we can deal with each other, and how we can work together to get through adversity. It can only be something we take forward into the future, I think”.

Work from TBWA\Dublin