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The Creative Luck of the Irish

The Creative Luck of the Irish

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

November 6, 2018

The talent at Havas Dublin is like a four-leaf clover—a rare industry find.

Peter O’Dwyer, Executive Creative Director at Havas Dublin, talks about his favorite project ever. Spoiler alert: It has to do with some fun Irish pubs. Plus, what it’s like to work in the heart of Ireland.

 

So, how’d you get your start?

I have an uncle who was a creative director in an ad agency who always encouraged my creative side. Despite the fact that I studied everything apart from advertising, I still gravitated toward the industry. Starting out as a designer, then making my way up.

If you were telling an 8-year-old about your job, how would you explain it?

Listen, they pay me to sit around and make up silly ideas and then give me money. Yeah, really.  

How does your city inspire you at work?

Dublin is a compact little city, but it’s full of lots of crazy people, and everyone has a story to tell. It’s grown up a lot in the last few years after we had our Celtic tiger years. I think everyone got that out of their system, and people are trying to be creative and caring. The city still has a lot of old culture, museums, and creative spaces, but you always feel that you’ll be inspired most by the person beside you on the bus or the old man in the pub telling you his life story.

What’s the most interesting thing about working in Dublin?

I love cities in general, and love the chaos and energy of them. It’s great being in a place that small, but still has a spirit of rebellion. We’re also a more caring place in a world that seems to be getting more partisan. We’re the first country where citizens voted for same-sex marriage, and that vote made us a more caring and considerate place. Havas worked on the strategy behind the campaign, and it’s one of the highlights of my career to know that we had some small part in that.

"We like to make things here, and I always encourage our team to get their hands dirty."

How do you spark creativity among your team?

We like to make things here, and I always encourage our team to get their hands dirty. Whether that’s an art director doing an oil painting of a cooked ham or two of our creative team driving into the mountains at the weekend to set a giant H on fire over a lake. The latter didn’t work, but it’s great to see our team enjoying these things. We also try to bring other creatives into the office to inspire the whole company; whether they’re scientists or graffiti artists, they all bring a new perspective on how to look at the world.

What’s the work that you are most proud of in your career so far?

We created bar taps for Heineken that were custom made for three bars. Each tap was a scale model of the bar and were handcrafted by Dutch ceramicists. Working with a company with 400 years of experience over two years, we made their stunning installations that highlighted the heritage of the Dublin pub and the Heineken brand.

What do you hope to do that you’ve never done?

Frankly, I have no idea, but that’s the fun. I never know what the day is going to bring in this job, and that’s the fun thing. I know that I’ll probably be doing something new tomorrow.

What’s the best idea that you’ve ever had?

Probably the above Heineken idea, but I’ll let others judge me on what’s good or bad.

 

The worst?

Too many to mention. But isn’t that the whole idea of our industry? The borders between terrible and great can be a fine line. I did once present an idea to a beer brand about a monster made out of speakers left over from the summer festival, like Godzilla. The client acted really strange when I presented it, and the next day I found out that it was the exact same idea as they used the year before, crazily similar. I’d never seen the previous campaign, but I looked like a pillock.

Tell us about the biggest epiphany that you’ve had in your career.

That there’s no such thing as a bad brief. Some may not be perfect, but there’s always a way to get good work out of any situation.

What do you wish that everyone knew about you?

That I have another life as a street artist.

What do you hope no one ever finds out?

That I have another life as a street artist.

Peter O’Dwyer, Executive Creative Director at Havas Dublin, talks about his favorite project ever. Spoiler alert: It has to do with some fun Irish pubs. Plus, what it’s like to work in the heart of Ireland.

 

So, how’d you get your start?

I have an uncle who was a creative director in an ad agency who always encouraged my creative side. Despite the fact that I studied everything apart from advertising, I still gravitated toward the industry. Starting out as a designer, then making my way up.

If you were telling an 8-year-old about your job, how would you explain it?

Listen, they pay me to sit around and make up silly ideas and then give me money. Yeah, really.  

How does your city inspire you at work?

Dublin is a compact little city, but it’s full of lots of crazy people, and everyone has a story to tell. It’s grown up a lot in the last few years after we had our Celtic tiger years. I think everyone got that out of their system, and people are trying to be creative and caring. The city still has a lot of old culture, museums, and creative spaces, but you always feel that you’ll be inspired most by the person beside you on the bus or the old man in the pub telling you his life story.

What’s the most interesting thing about working in Dublin?

I love cities in general, and love the chaos and energy of them. It’s great being in a place that small, but still has a spirit of rebellion. We’re also a more caring place in a world that seems to be getting more partisan. We’re the first country where citizens voted for same-sex marriage, and that vote made us a more caring and considerate place. Havas worked on the strategy behind the campaign, and it’s one of the highlights of my career to know that we had some small part in that.

"We like to make things here, and I always encourage our team to get their hands dirty."

How do you spark creativity among your team?

We like to make things here, and I always encourage our team to get their hands dirty. Whether that’s an art director doing an oil painting of a cooked ham or two of our creative team driving into the mountains at the weekend to set a giant H on fire over a lake. The latter didn’t work, but it’s great to see our team enjoying these things. We also try to bring other creatives into the office to inspire the whole company; whether they’re scientists or graffiti artists, they all bring a new perspective on how to look at the world.

What’s the work that you are most proud of in your career so far?

We created bar taps for Heineken that were custom made for three bars. Each tap was a scale model of the bar and were handcrafted by Dutch ceramicists. Working with a company with 400 years of experience over two years, we made their stunning installations that highlighted the heritage of the Dublin pub and the Heineken brand.

What do you hope to do that you’ve never done?

Frankly, I have no idea, but that’s the fun. I never know what the day is going to bring in this job, and that’s the fun thing. I know that I’ll probably be doing something new tomorrow.

What’s the best idea that you’ve ever had?

Probably the above Heineken idea, but I’ll let others judge me on what’s good or bad.

 

The worst?

Too many to mention. But isn’t that the whole idea of our industry? The borders between terrible and great can be a fine line. I did once present an idea to a beer brand about a monster made out of speakers left over from the summer festival, like Godzilla. The client acted really strange when I presented it, and the next day I found out that it was the exact same idea as they used the year before, crazily similar. I’d never seen the previous campaign, but I looked like a pillock.

Tell us about the biggest epiphany that you’ve had in your career.

That there’s no such thing as a bad brief. Some may not be perfect, but there’s always a way to get good work out of any situation.

What do you wish that everyone knew about you?

That I have another life as a street artist.

What do you hope no one ever finds out?

That I have another life as a street artist.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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