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Cannes Lions

Cannes 2017: AIB’s Tom Kinsella on How Ripping Up the Rule Book Can Revive Your Brand

AIB’s CMO reveals how letting go of creative control allowed the brand to flourish, and discusses his predictions and top tips for Cannes

Cannes 2017: AIB’s Tom Kinsella on How Ripping Up the Rule Book Can Revive Your Brand

In the run-up to AIB’s Creative Inspiration Seminar at Cannes, which it will be hosting with its agency, Rothco, Tom Kinsella reveals the insights behind the brand’s meteoric revival. In 2011, with nothing to lose, the bank embarked on a completely different approach – one that marked a stark departure from its previously highly-structured process. Now, with numerous award-winning campaigns under its belt, Allied Irish Bank’s Chief Marketing Officer spills the beans on this winning approach, and discusses his predictions and top tips for Cannes.


Q> What motivated you to bring the process behind ‘The Toughest’ to the Croisette?

Tom Kinsella, Chief Marketing Officer, AIB> All my marketing life, I’ve worked in big organisations where creativity has come with a high degree of structure and process. The AIB brand collapsed when the bank had to be bailed out by the Irish taxpayer, and as a result we had nothing to lose - we had to rip up the rule book and go for it. 

This gave us the freedom to experiment and be more organic in our creative endeavours. And as it turned out, happily with some tangible success. I thought it would be interesting and hopefully useful to share our experience with a wider audience of people at Cannes.


Q> Can you give us any teasers as to what you’re going to be talking about?

TK> I will be touching on that old adage that sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission!


Q> You’re speaking about handing over creative control to your agency in your talk at Cannes. Why do you think it’s the right time to be talking about this? 

TK> It’s not so much about handing over control to the agency but rather both of us not being overly attached to the outcome and being willing to see what the public can do with what you give them.

There’s much evidence to suggest that people respond better when you give them a say in the outcome, rather than simply delivering a one-way script.


Q> As a brand, how hard is it to let go of creative control?

TK> When your core idea is rock solid it is so much easier to throw it out there with confidence – and to be honest, it does get easier once you see it working.


Q> Are you attending Cannes Lions for the whole week? 

TK> I’d dearly love to but unfortunately, I am required back at the ranch so I am on a short two-day pass. I will be gorging on all talks I can get to for the 48 hours I’ll be in town. And of course, I’m excited and looking forward to telling our own story at the Creative Inspiration Seminar on The Debussy Stage, on Saturday 17th June at 1pm.


Q> What topics of conversation are of big interest to brands like AIB right now? What will you be looking to talk to people about at Cannes?

TK> I think we’ve all come a long way in recent years in becoming more collaborative, finding new partnerships, and sharing our experiences.

And the brilliant thing about Cannes is you never know who you’re going to meet next.


Q> What ads would you like to see win awards this year or what ads do you predict will win awards this year?

TK> I wouldn’t be surprised if State Street’s ‘The Fearless Girl’ wins the PR Grand Prix. I think that statue of the little girl standing tall in front of the bull on Wall Street was covered by every single news show and newspaper in the world. Also, I hope Channel 4's The Superhumans wins the Film Grand Prix. The idea is awesome, the production is stunning and its message is powerful.

And of course, with a touch of bias, we’d love to see our own new ‘Last Day of their Mortgage’ campaign idea do well.

Q> Irish brands and agencies have been steadily building a bigger presence at global festivals like Cannes. Is this good news for AIB?

TK> I think it’s fair to say that both our agency Rothco and ourselves have a shared ambition to do great work and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that you’ll tend to find us gravitating towards places of creative inspiration.

Q> Last question - What are your top tips for the festival?

TK> Don’t iron your jeans!




The Creative Inspiration Seminar will be held at The Debussy Stage on Saturday 17th June at 1pm.

To find out more about the seminar, please click here.