Introductory Comments to The Marketing Society Spring Conference
“The Mind and Mood of Ireland Beyond the Celtic Tiger”
26th May, 2005
By Roger Jupp, Managing Director, Lansdowne Market Research
I am delighted to open and chair this conference today in one of the most prestigious buildings in Dublin. The Marketing Society has shown great initiative in coming up with the idea of this half day conference. I hope that we will all benefit from the various aspects of insight which will be supplied by our four key speakers today. I have been given the invidious task of making some introductory remarks and setting the scene for today's deliberations. I think I should at the first instance identify my own perceptions and nail my colours to the mast.
In this guise, I am following the very recent example of Michelle Déon, an eminent French writer, whose writings became grudgingly known to me in my university days. A 30-year immigré in the true French sense, he has just completed a book on Ireland entitled “Cavalier – Passe ton Chemin!” (Horseman Pass By, echoing the Yeatsian refrain). The Irish Times review (21 st May) of his most recent book, he was quoted as saying:-
When I read this, I was struck by how immediately applicable yet complex such a double strike has been. It implies that both the clergy and Ireland were in a “pure” state before the arrival of these twin blights. That in itself was a sufficiently arresting thought to make me pause before any further thoughts.
Then it occurred to me that the quote also implies that affluence has been the ruination of the country, that we have collectively forgotten our previous state of grace and lurched suddenly into a wealthy modern re-location (Eddie Irvine's Dalkey folly?). And that did not strike me as altogether true either.
In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I found it hard to understand how affluence could be all bad – as if the mythical view of Ireland that pre-existed affluence in certain minds was preferable. I thought I would ask myself some very tough questions about the state of employment/unemployment, emigration/immigration, debt/savings ratios, national debt, the pensions deficit, bungalow blitz or bliss, the flight from the land, crime, health services and so forth. You can see how the troubled mind of a market researcher truly works!
Yet, more seriously, it seemed to be the perfect set-up for today's conference since it allows us to raise many of the themes that are often hidden in our everyday discourses or thought processes as marketers and business people. They go straight to the core of some of our major concerns.
Next, as I was preparing for today, I remembered that Lansdowne had conducted a seminar called ‘Crisis or Confidence' in 2002. This clearly led us to believe that Ireland was suffering from too much change too fast and that, in a time of reassessment, the economic boom had reinforced a desire for more checks on the drive to material gain. Ireland as a divided society, resting on its recently acquired economic laurels, was worried about the way the economy and society were going. Was the party over for now or would the good times roll again? I will leave you to decide on the precise alchemy you prefer for the good times.
What I hope that today's speakers will give us are some clear answers and that they will prod (sensitively or insensitively) at the state of the national psyche, after the Dundrum shopping centre. The four speakers promise to take very different angles on the theme of “The Mind and Mood of Ireland Beyond the Celtic Tiger”.
Gerard O'Neill of Amarach Consulting will talk of the schizophrenic nature of Irish happiness, always looking for a degree of misery on the other side (perhaps the Irish invented Schadenfreude?). Laza Kekic of The Economist, Intelligence Unit will trace the way in which he developed the ‘Happiness Index' and its suitability as a current description of the Irish. Chris Sanderson of Future Labs (UK) will talk about “Masstige” - mass influence and the impact that it has on our brands. Dr. Anthony Bates, a Senior Clinical Psychologist at St. James & St. Patricks Hospitals, will look very specifically into our psychological make-up and the considerable anxieties and need for belonging present in the society in which we live.
I am sure that all of these speakers will give you some invaluable insights in the course of the day - and I look forward to keeping them on the straight and narrow as regards timing and topics!