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“We’re Putting the Emphasis Back on Craft”: Inside TBWA\Dublin’s New Studio
Advertising Agency
Dublin, Ireland
Creative director Niall Staines on how advantageous in-house capabilities help the agency ensure craft remains at the forefront of their work

TBWA\Dublin thrives on an unconventional school of thought. In line with this company-wide ethos, The Disruption Company has recently taken production matters into their own hands, by launching new state-of-the-art studios in Dublin. As a result, the creative team is able to cut out the middleman and execute the brief in-house when working on smaller projects that require a faster turnaround.  

Bolt by TBWA\Dublin is a diverse and collaborative studio space with a range of services which cover everything from film, photography, digital content and post-production. The venture, overseen by business director Yvonne Caplice and new head of studio Matthieu Chardon, is seen as an innovative and efficient solution to the creative challenges posed by certain projects. The studio has been specially designed as a space for TBWA\Dublin’s talent to produce cutting-edge solutions for global clients, no matter what the brief. 

In this interview, LBB’s April Summers chats to creative director Niall Staines to find out how the new studio presents exciting opportunities for TBWA\Dublin to fine-tune their craft and ensure high-quality execution across all projects.

LBB> Hello, Niall! Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Let’s start with the basics - what does ‘craft’ mean to you? 

Niall Staines> Craft is the thing that makes a piece of creative stand out. It’s the difference between good and great. If I was a romantic I would say it’s about giving something love, care and attention in order to make it beautiful, entertaining and memorable. In fact, I think that’s exactly what it is!

LBB> Why has craft become so integral to the work you guys do at TBWA\Dublin? 

Niall> Craft is at the heart of every creative department - it’s the reason most of us got into advertising in the first place - but over the past few years, with tighter budgets, faster turnaround, and more emphasis on platform than execution, it’s been the first thing to go. We want to put the emphasis back on craft.


LBB> Excitingly, you guys are launching a new studio - TBWA\Bolt. Can you tell us a bit about the strategy behind that? 

Niall> Content, clients want content, and we found we couldn’t get the quality we wanted for the budgets we were given. So, we decided to take control in order to focus on craft. We’ve hired an amazing photographer and director in Matthieu Chardon to head up the studio alongside Yvonne Caplice, who’s dealing with the business side of things. We’ve been building - and are continuing to build - our team of editors, photographers, motion designers and craftsmen and women to bring this vision to life.
We were given an amazing opportunity with our space. We occupy the 1st floor of a beautiful old art deco building on the outskirts of the city centre. The tenants on the first floor have moved on so we converted the entire ground floor into a studio. It’s a magnificent space, far bigger than any in-house studio I’ve seen before, with tons of natural light. It used to be the old Kodak factory too, so there’s something nice about creating there once again.

LBB> What does TBWA\Bolt mean for your approach to the craft in a practical sense? What capabilities will it give you? 

Niall> There’s that old adage: fast, cheap or good – choose two. The idea that you can make something quickly, cheaply or well, but it’s impossible to do all three. What we are doing is taking more control over the steps and bringing production in-house for some jobs, but not all. That’s the key here; we’re not bringing everything in-house. Bigger budget work that requires specialists will still be outsourced, and beautifully crafted too. However, for the smaller jobs, bringing production in-house allows us to cut out the middle man, allowing us to do the work faster and cheaper. Having the production literally downstairs means we can sit on each other’s shoulders and craft the ever-loving shit out of a piece.

LBB> There’s never been so much widely-accessible, high-quality entertainment out there. People can now watch Oscar-winning films on their smartphone screens. Do you think that has driven up expectations of quality, and made craft more essential? 

Niall> For sure. That same smartphone has a HD video and stills camera which is better quality than most five year old professional cameras. Not only are people consuming more high quality entertainment, they are able to craft it themselves and do so on a daily basis. 

LBB> Finally, some might argue that the opposite is also true. We’re living in a time where a TikTok produced in a couple of hours can get more reach and visibility than a flagship TV ad. In that context, why is now the right time to renew your focus on craft?

Niall> The best TikToks are carefully crafted. The finished product may look off-the-cuff but the comic timing, editing, and use of music is planned, rehearsed and executed to perfection. Craft isn’t just about big budgets, fancy equipment, and superstar directors. That’s exactly what we’re trying to prove at TBWA/Dublin.