Susie Innes explains her soft spot for the 50-year-old Kinsale Shark Awards, Europe’s most easy-going advertising festival.
Who would have thought that D&AD and the Sharks started at the same time, 50 years ago?
And as D&AD goes from strength the strength, being serious and worthy and aspirational, a holy grail for advertising folk, what do we have to say about the Irish awards?
Kinsale is good craic.
It is my personal favourite industry get together of the year, and possibly, my darling family notwithstanding, the weekend I most look forward to.
Like all things marvellous, nothing will quite beat my first time. 1998 or thereabouts. Sharing a room in a very silly and charming B&B.
Turning the corner and being greeted by the most spectacular view of sea, harbour and history, which served as a backdrop to all my mates in the sunshine outside the Spinnaker. In those days VTR did a Friday afternoon party and on Saturday the Mill hosted a jolly at Summer Cove.
Like drones, years after the hospitality has stopped, we London folk herded to the same pubs on the same days. The Spinnaker is now shut, but that doesn’t stop us sniffing around as the sun goes down.
Over the years there have been some fabulous stories. Framestore’s tour bus parked in the car park, darts shenanigans, accidents, disco dancing, hardy editors braving the chill and having swimming races, crabbing, and of course, some jolly decent talks and presentations. Last year it was Hegarty; this year Tony Kaye.
Boats. Bloody Marys. Baccus.
Kinsale is full of different textures. Not just the smoothness of a Murphy’s versus the sharpness of cheap wine, but the joy of the vistas on a walk, the challenge of a proper chat, the food, the weather and the diversity.
And the friends! Somehow the genial atmosphere and generosity of spirit of the locals bleeds through, and it means you will always meet someone new, and actually stay in touch with them, or at least hold them dear. When meeting someone smiley and familiar now, my default is always to assume I must have met them in Kinsale.
Sometimes I have been a delegate, sometimes just a good time ligger. I have sat through the most tedious award ceremonies and ones that have flown in a flash, I have smugly giggled over dinner waiting for people to escape from the main event, and also felt slightly shoddy when I wasn’t participating.
And even when it rains and rains, there is warmth and a joy and a general good-naturedness to get you through. Along with a diddly diddly band.
Sadly though, it has little kudos. It is mostly populated by the old guard, and by that I don’t even mean the seniors, but by the more, dare I say it, responsible personnel.
There are hardly any creatives, only a smattering of luminaries, and a lot of production.
And part of me wants to keep it that way. It works. It’s fun. There is room for us all at the Spaniards.
But it deserves more recognition from London. As an event, as an award, as a festival.
It should be taken not exactly seriously, because that could be tragic, but as something worth joining in.
To be a delegate, spend two nights at any one of the gamut of hostelries, eat a couple of dinners and imbibe number of pints can still work out cheaper than one round at the Carlton Terrace. And this way, you will always remember whom you bought the drinks for.