Moving Ideas

The best ad I’ve seen for ‘brand Northern Ireland’

The Shore won an Oscar last night for best live action short film. Produced by Oorlagh and Terry George, it’s an intimate post-troubles story of reconciliation, set against the stunning backdrop of rural Northern Ireland.

At times funny and reflective, The Shore draws you in. It struck me on seeing it for the first time, that it’s perhaps the best depiction of the Northern Ireland attitude, I’ve ever seen on the big screen. Displaying equal parts of warmth, wit and stubbornness, the film’s characters leave out the usual clichéd quips and thankfully, cringeworthy accents.

We were asked by our friends at Lough Shore — the film’s executive producers — to build a website to assist The Shore’s promotional effort. The simple single-page site went live at the end of 2011 with a trailer, information on cast and crew and short bios of the producers. As the film set off on tour, it’s successful run on the international festival circuit was reflected on the site with tweets, news updates and new content building momentum, culminating in its Academy nomination and Oscar for best short film. Regarding the online campaign, more to follow on that front with development and updates planned for the coming days and weeks.

The thing about The Shore is that it’s not just a great story, it’s a triumph for Northern Ireland. In our world, ‘place branding’ is a big subject debated in agencies and tourism offices the world over. There’s lots of noise in Northern Ireland this year, with the centenary of that ship, a minor sporting event in London spinning out the ‘Cultural Olympiad’ and news that it’s ‘our time, our place’. But much more than logos and marketing speak; in my view, place brands are better defined by character, unique environments, compelling stories.

The Shore has it all in bagfuls. With its virtuoso character acting, stunning cinematography and on-the-money soundtrack, I don’t think I’ve seen a better advertisement for brand Northern Ireland.

And if you’ve ever experienced confusion about your Northern Irish friend’s talk of ‘the craic’ – The Shore’s final scene breaks it down beautifully: a lazy summer evening of singsong, seafood, beer and banter.  So I’ve just added the HD version of The Store to my iTunes movie account. If you’re living away from home or if you’d like a piece of homegrown film you can be proud of, get on over and bag yourself a copy of brand Northern Ireland’s first big success of 2012.

Congratulations to The Shore.

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Founder and Managing Director of Frank, Damian is an experienced brand consultant, dividing his time between strategic direction, planning and business development. You can follow Damian on Twitter @deecast