Posted on April 27, 2017 by Susan O'Leary on News

Press Release: Leading Advertising Agency Chemistry Turns 18

Chemistry mark 18 years at the forefront of Irish creativity

Robbie Williams rocked Slane, Westlife and Eminem topped the charts, Tony Soprano and President Josiah Bartlet appeared on our TVs for the first time, while the release of Star Wars Episode 1 marked the return of the Yoda to the silver screen. The island of Ireland took to the polls and voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Good Friday Agreement while Bill Clinton faced impeachment and Minister Vladimir Putin became acting President of Russia. That’s what the world looked like in 1999 – and Ireland’s leading creative agency, Chemistry, has stayed the course ever since.

Founded in April 1999, the company this month marks their landmark 18th year providing innovative advertising campaigns, many of which have formed a core part of the tapestry of Irish culture, ignited conversations and provoked heated discussions over the past two decades.

Ray Sheerin, Managing Director, Chemistry:

“For 18 years, Chemistry has never wavered from our commitment to developing the most outstanding creative work in the market, informed by brilliant strategy. In a media environment that has never been more crowded, this is now more important than ever.”

Chemistry is Ireland’s most unique, disruptive and creative agency with an unmatched record of winning Irish and international industry awards. From the very start, Chemistry has not been afraid to push the boundaries, to start difficult conversations, and to ruffle feathers along the way. Chemistry creates work that ranges from engaging on a deep emotional level to campaigns that simply make us laugh.

Talking about their approach to campaigns, Ray Sheerin, MD of Chemistry said: “What we do best is to create entire campaigns which engage audiences so much that they themselves become part of the campaigns. This means making the entire communications ecosystem come to life – what I describe as knowing when and where to light the fuse.”

Never afraid to challenge audiences and take risks, Chemistry was the agency behind the outrageous ‘Ladyball’ campaign. Working with Lidl, Chemistry challenged the negative, dismissive and unsupportive culture around ladies’ football head on. The ‘Ladyball’ epitomised the negative and stereotypical attitude towards ladies’ sport. Ladyball would act as a lightning conductor for all the negativity surrounding women’s sport and challenge a status quo which has long existed in sporting life. Ladyball did exactly what it was designed to do. It ignited the conversation around women in sport, it agitated, provoked and incited discussions and arguments in all corners of the internet, over office lunches and Friday night drinks. Ultimately, it highlighted the very real barriers female sports persons have faced down in getting the same recognition as their male counterparts. The campaign helped turn the Lidl Ladies Gaelic Football Final into Europe’s biggest attended female sports event of the year.

While creativity forms a central part of all Chemistry’s work, their primary focus is always on results and impact. This year, their provocative ‘Get Cancer’ campaign with the Irish Cancer Society – which, despite a tiny budget, made cancer a key topic of conversation. It has ultimately resulted in a change of behaviour, with an increase of over 100% in calls to Irish Cancer Society’s advice line and which, within one week of airing had “already saved lives” according to Dr. Robert O’Connor, Irish Cancer Society’s head of medical research.

From the provocative ‘Ladyball’ campaign with Lidl and the recent ‘Get Cancer’ campaign with the Irish Cancer Society, to their internationally recognised work marking the passing of Jonah Lomu, Chemistry has consistently over their 18 years in business created some of the most engaging, challenging and disruptive campaigns in Irish advertising.

“Dave Trott, in his book Predatory Thinking, showed that of the UK’s communications industry’s annual spend of £20.3bn, just 4% is remembered positively, 7% is remembered negatively and 89% or over £18bn a year, is neither noticed nor remembered”, Sheerin continued. “For all of our 18 years, we’ve worked tirelessly to do work that’s in the 4%. On occasion, we’ve done work in the 7% – which can also be a successful outcome if, for example, people don’t like the message but still act upon it. Quoting Elie Wiesel: ‘The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference’”.

To mark their 18th year they will host a ‘Debs’ themed birthday party at Old Wesley, Donnybrook, Dublin 4. Attendees at the Chemistry ‘Debs’ will dance the night away with live music provided by the band Pop Gods and will be treated to a champagne and cocktail reception on arrival. Attending the Chemistry ‘Debs’ will be a range of advertising industry luminaries, past and present members of the Chemistry team, former and current clients, and a host of creative and business professionals who have shaped Chemistry over the last 18 years and helped them become the agency they are today.

Reeling in the Chemistry years: 1999 – 2017

When we were 1…
We offered people a guaranteed ride…with Dublin Bus’ Nitelink Service. This was later the subject of a question to the Minister for Transport in the Dáil, generating even more coverage. The follow-up campaign still gets shared and discussed online

When we were 3…
We were voted Marketing magazine’s Agency of the Year

When we were 6…
We helped protect the futures of tens of thousands of Irish women with a campaign for Irish Life encouraging women to take out personal pensions. Prior to the campaign, just 1 in 5 women had any personal pensions provision; after the campaign, it was 1 in 3

When we were 7…
We won Ireland’s only Gold at Cannes for the National Newspapers of Ireland Power of the Press campaign.

When we were 8…
We picked on someone our own size with the famous / infamous Sarkozy Letters to promote our own digital and social media skills. They which achieved a million online views – without a cent of media spend.

When we were 10 and 11…
We produced ads for Eircom that people still talk about, like Great Dane and MusicHub.

When we were 14…
We called out the entire diet foods category for its patronising and offensive treatment of women for LowLow with a parody called Adland Gal which was described by the mighty Huffington Post as “Kerry LowLow Diet Ad Is Basically Perfect”. It got 2.5m views on YouTube alone.

When we were 16…
We created an ad for the Irish Examiner to mark the untimely passing of Jonah Lomu which instantly went global and was discussed on national TV by New Zealand’s Prime Minister. With the Irish Examiner, we gave away the image rights to the trust which was set up to raise funds for Lomu’s two sons.

When we were 17…
We created the Ladyball campaign to announce Lidl’s sponsorship of the LGFA. From a tiny minority sport, whose players didn’t even know that Tesco had been its sponsor for the previous 3 years, it was Ireland’s top recalled sponsorship last year, and last year’s Lidl Ladies Gaelic Football Final was Europe’s biggest attended female sports event.

And at the start of our 18th year…
We created the Get Cancer campaign which, despite a tiny budget, made cancer a topic of conversation and has changed the behaviour of Irish people, with an increase of over 100% in calls to Irish Cancer Society’s advice line and which, within one week of airing had “already saved lives” according to Dr. Robert O’Connor, Irish Cancer Society’s head of medical research.