Read our new manifesto

Try the Nettle sting cure!

…is about ideas. Ideas that make people think, make people smile, make people laugh, make people change the way they behave. It’s about creativity. Creativity in advertising and design. Creativity in the field of poetry, literature and screenplays. It’s about art. Sharing it, discovering it. Trying to understand it. It’s about getting things done. Not waiting for someone else to do it, or relying on someone else to get it done for you. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I have over 25 years experience in the ad industry working for agency brands such as: DDB; TBWA; BBDO; O&M and McCann’s as a CD / AD / CW. I have won over 100 awards, including Cannes; D&AD; One Show; Campaign and Epica. For brands such as: VW; Audi; Carlsberg; Black & White Whisky, Smirnoff, Coors, Cadbury’s; Coca-Cola; Heinz; Peugeot; Nissan and Meteor to name a few.

I’m also a published writer, I was short listed for the Independent on Sunday Short Story Competition in 1997. My short story, “Woman’s Best Friend”, also appears in the IOS New Stories published by Bloomsbury.

My poetry has been widely published in Ireland, Britain and the US in anthologies and periodicals such as: The U.S. Literary Review, Envoi, Cyphers, Electric Acorn, W.P. Monthly, Lifelines 3, The Haiku Quarterly and The Amnesty International Anthology: Human Rights Have No Borders.

I am the author of six feature length screenplays, six short films, a collection of short stories, a poetry collection and my first novel which contains 85,000 words, some of which are in the correct order.

I have always found it strange, and amazing, that the antidote for the sting of a common nettle usually sits right next to the culprit in the form of a dock leaf. I recall many an afternoon spent rubbing the curative properties of the dock leaf onto the red bobbled skin of my calf. It was a right of passage. You couldn’t call yourself a ‘real’ lad if you hadn’t tramped through a nettle bush to retrieve a football then administered your own medicine in a not too dissimilar fashion to Rambo sewing up his own arm in First Blood.

So, what is the point of this rather vague and tenuous analogy? Well, this problem/solution that occurs naturally in nature is the same way I approach advertising. What is the problem you are trying to address? Look closely at your problem. Even closer. Too far, back up a bit. You will find the solution to your problem very close to its source. Whether it’s in a product benefit/attribute. Perhaps it’s hiding in a physical or emotional benefit for the target audience. Or maybe, it’s skulking somewhere in the market conditions.

Client: I need to shift some metal.

Agency: What’s so good about this model?

Client: Well, it looks nice. It’s practical.

Agency: Go on.

Client: It’s incredibly safe. It’s won awards for safety.

Agency: I’m listening.

Client: It’s pretty cheap too, for what you get.

Agency: Interesting. If it’s so good why aren’t they flying off the forecourts?

Client: It’s this bleeding recession!


Always look for the biggest adversary to the success of your objective and tackle it head on. See how this ‘problem’ can be easily resolved by your product benefits. You’re not going to convince someone who doesn’t have any disposable income to rush out and beg the bank for a loan to buy your product, but you might just give a ‘hand-raiser’ that extra bit of ammunition they need to tip them over the edge toward choosing your product.

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