Kinsale Sharks: It’s All About the People
“It’s all about the people.” Susan Hoffman taking to the mic at the Kinsale Sharks Awards on Saturday night before hitting the dancefloor. After three days of fantastic talks and making new friends in the colourful town on the coast of Ireland, I’d have to agree. As ad festivals go, it may not be the biggest in the world but I’m starting to see the value in these intimate and authentic industry get-togethers. Give me genuine human connections over corporate sheen and huge crowds any day.
As a Kinsale virgin, I thought I knew what to expect: lots of Guinness. And while there were indubitably ridiculous quantities of the black stuff consumed throughout the three days, my preconceptions were, at best, incomplete. There was, as far as I know, only one alcohol-induced injury (#DrinkForTidy). For one thing no one had told me just how pretty the town was – colourful streets straight out of the British kid’s show Balamory peppered with old style pubs, quirky shops and top notch restaurants. The quiet folksiness of our surroundings felt like the perfect spot, particularly given the fact that the industry just can’t stop banging on about authenticity.
This year the festival – which has been around for 54 years – switched things up a bit by bringing Creative Social aboard to curate the speaker schedule. A collection of exciting thinkers enchanted the audience packed into the stone-built hall of the Lord Kingsale pub. They spoke against a backdrop of well-worn pub paraphernalia, beneath a large candelabra made out of an old cartwheel – the whole thing felt like the hippest Harvest assembly you’ve ever been to. Mr President’s Laura Jordan Bambach was inspiring. Illustrator/professional troll Mr Bingo was a riot. Nick Farnhill wrangled the award judges to pass on their nuggets of inspiration (who knew that James Bradley of 750mph was with Steve Jobs at the launch of the Mac??). Ed Sayers took us through the history of Straight 8 – and recruited some new participants for the Straight 8 contest (including, it would seem, Mr Bingo). Irish illustrator Fuchsia MacAree took us on a jaunty and colourful journey through Dublin.
And then later, the line between audience and speaker, judge and entrant blurred away into nothing as we got together and chatted into the wee small hours. There was no rushing around. No frantic FOMO (unless you count missing out on Mcasso Music’s darts competition at The Spaniard pub because I had to… well… work). No faceless big brands. Small, spontaneous and genuinely creative – it turns out the Kinsale Sharks really does have bite.
Genre: People , Strategy/Insight