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Raising a Glass to Irish Media & Innovation

In many of my startup talks, Tullamore D.E.W.’s, “The Parting Glass,” remains a pinnacle example of exceptional marketing and the use of media to promote a brand. The advertisement from 2013 received rave reviews from Huffington Post, Fast Company, Creative Online, and Ad Age citing, “awesome surprise,” the “envy of other booze ads,” and “a beautiful story, expertly told.”

Directed by Laurence Dunmore of RSA Films, with Opperman Weiss, there is a passion found in the ad, that reflects the Irish spirit, culture, and talent; it’s a touch of magic with stories and music, that establishes through Ireland, one of the world’s most influential epicenters of media and innovation. A commercial so eloquently embodies the art of storytelling on behalf of a company, that the advertisement spun off collaborative production celebrating the town and County Sligo, on the northwest coast of Ireland, and a continued focus on the part of the exceptional marketers at Tullamore D.E.W. to keep raising the bar.

“A new campaign from Tullamore D.E.W., has been launched. This work extols the virtues of blending, of breaking down barriers, of embracing and celebrating the beauty of ‘us’.”

The Drum; Digital Transformation Festival, 2010

Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey Sligo’s Parting Glass

Produced in response, this film “showcases Sligo’s eclectic music scene alongside landscapes.”

Directed and Produced by Colin Gillen with Cinematography by Peter Martin, four of Sligo’s leading music pubs, renowned in their own right for sessions and live music, came together along with Sligo’s leading young film makers and creatives, patrons and supporters, to produce this short film.

Irish Media Innovation

John Zozzaro and I had the honor and privilege of meeting with some of the esteemed of the city of Limerick, seemingly ages ago, before the quarantine. Senior Executive Officer of Economic Development, Pat Fitzgerald, Dr. Mihai Bilauca, then Head of Digital Strategy, Chief Executive of Limerick City & County Council Dr. Pat Daly, and then Mayor Cllr James Collins, spent some time with us in Austin, TX.

What captured our attention so meaningfully was two recent developments:

  1. Troy Studios was completing its fourth sound stage, making it the largest production studio facility in Ireland. Work was in the early stages on a production for Apple TV+
  2. WordPress hosting and management platform WP Engine, one of Austin’s most successful ventures, chose Limerick to establish their second office.

It was in those talks and early developments that MediaTech Ventures’ started connecting dots that establish the immeasurable role Ireland plays in media, innovation, entrepreneurship, and venture capital, and solidified our appreciation for how and why those four things are so interdependent on one another.

From music, stories, and advertising, to film, television, and web development

According to a 2019 study from IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for the attraction and retention of inward foreign direct investment into Ireland, the digital part of Ireland’s economy has been growing at 16% per year, more than 10 times the rate of growth of the economy as a whole.

“Media & Entertainment companies have grown and developed significantly in Ireland over the past decade. Ireland has built exceptional talent and capability in supporting internet, digital media, social networking, and gaming companies, enabling them a wide range of functions for European, EMEA, and international markets”

Sean McWilliams; VP Emerging Business, Southern USA at IDA Ireland

Slack, Wrike, HubSpot, LinkedIn, Qualtrics XM, Looker, Thousand Eyes, NewsWhip, storyful, pressreader, and Olytico, just a few of the media related innovations involved in Ireland and catching the eye of IDA Ireland in a manner that Sean can give you some insight to their impact. A recurring thread therein? Data, social media, people, and communications… these past months, under challenging circumstances in the world, Irish companies and entrepreneurs have stepped up and embraced the fact that adversity creates opportunity – opportunity for us all to find better ways to connect and serve one another.

Affirming that, last week Sara Hill and Enterprise Ireland hosted a wonderful panel of innovators [which you can access here] from Google, DFW Airport, and Toyota, with Ambassador of Ireland to the United States, Dan Mulhall. The trade and innovation agency and VC arm of the Irish Government, Enterprise Ireland, has invested over €1.5bn in innovation; putting capital to work in at least 80 new startups every year. As well as investing directly in VC Funds, Enterprise Ireland is the world’s largest seed investor by deal count and some of the stories of Ireland help explain why.

“In the 19th century, it was one way traffic, people who came across and made a new life for themselves, and that’s why there are 35 million, maybe more, Americans, who trace their heritage back to Ireland,” shared Ambassador Mulhall. “And in the 20th century, it sort of things flipped and we started to see America having an influence on Ireland. In the middle of the last century we started to see American investment having a big impact on our country, transforming our country from an agricultural country, which it was, to the country it is today, a country of cutting edge technology, and one of the most dynamic and resilient economies on the planet.”

As that story of the history of Ireland progresses in time, it touches on Ireland’s investment in education (much like our own vision), developing a creative and technical country not only as dynamic and resilient as the Ambassador noted, but a source of capital (human, knowledge, and financial capital) changing media.

We all have to adapt, our mindset, our means, our imagination

Ready for a New World

It is the week of St. Patrick’s Day, so of course much of this is top of mind for someone with a family such as mine. Our Head of Production, Dallas Burgess, and I have been trading messages throughout today, since I find myself a bit jealous that he calls Savannah, Georgia home; home to Savannah College of Art and Design, a wonderful and vibrant culture and community, and one of America’s greatest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Irish Innovation is Changing Everything

It’s also the week of SXSW and while virtual, and not as in person as we’d like, we can still raise a glass to great things and great people helping lead the way. One such person to whom I hope to raise a glass this week (since we call Austin home), is Blue Sky PartnersMatt Glazer. Friday, March 19th, Matt will join Draper AssociatesSiri Srinivas, Brian Schuman from PepsiCo, along with six of Ireland’s most innovative startups, including media startups usheru, tribetactics, and musiq.ai, for “How Irish Innovation is Changing the Game.”

Get involved, join us, and raise a glass to Irish media and innovation.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and sláinte

Oh by the way! It would not be SXSW were it not for the music festival. Tune into Culture Ireland and First Music Contact’s, Music From Ireland

Paul O'Brien

Silicon Valley technology and startup veteran, Paul O'Brien is affectionately known as SEO'Brien for an extensive past in the search industry. Today as CEO and Founder of MediaTech Ventures, O'Brien works in Venture Capital Economic Development, serving the investment and venture capital economies directly, through thought leadership, consulting, and startup development. More, a regional Director of the Founder Institute incubator and mentor in DivInc, Galvanize, and various startup Accelerators.

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  1. Hi Paul – that’s an awesome article – thank you! Looking forward to the event and having you join us – and being able to showcase more and more Irish innovation. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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