Placement or No Placement?

For months I was debating whether to do a placement year or continue to final year and with many pros and cons for both, many interviews and 2 placement offers, I decided, why not? It’s always good to have experience!

I had heard so much about Ardmore Advertising and this was the place I knew I wanted to spend my placement year, so when I got offered the job I was more than excited to start!

After wondering what it was like to work in a busy advertising agency, I was quick to find out for myself!

The rumours are true, the world of advertising is busy, very busy, and interning is definitely not just photocopying and fetching coffee! People start to filter into the office just before 9am with their tea or coffee in hand (or hot chocolate if you’re like me), soon the office is buzzing as emails are opened and answered. I was given a training schedule but each day is like a game of whack-a-mole, jobs just keep popping up, time management is clearly a skill that is essential in advertising!

My role within the agency was as an Account Executive were my basic role was acting as a link between clients and the agency. In the client services team, I worked alongside account managers and directors to ensure all client requests were being handled and to the best of our ability as an agency.

Apart from the usual account management work a particular highlight from my time at Ardmore was an overnight trip to Liverpool with Stena Line.

Stena Line asked us to create a video for their social media page to share the benefits of travelling onboard. A few of us at Ardmore took over Stena Line UKIE’s Instagram story for the day where we documented our journey on the Stena Line day crossing from Belfast to Liverpool! Our Instagram story got a fantastic level of engagement and a short boomerang video we posted to Facebook got over 55,000 views.

We arrived at the docks at about 8.30am for check-in. The staff were so friendly and we checked-in in less than 5 minutes! Plenty of time for a coffee before hopping on the bus that drove us to the ferry.  We checked out our cabins, did some onboard shopping, had a walk on deck, we even got taken up to the captain’s quarter! We got to the Stena Plus lounge which felt like a mini VIP area with complimentary tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, crisps, fruit, sweet treats and magazines. We ordered breakfast; pancakes, a fry, eggs benedict and granola with fruit – all really delicious! We felt so settled that we didn’t want to leave but before we knew we had arrived in Liverpool and within 10 minutes we arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Liverpool. We went to San Carlo for dinner, the food was delicious!

Bright and early on Wednesday morning we got some breakfast, went to the pool and sauna and got ready to hit the town for some shopping – this beat any day in the office! After a few hours of shopping and walking around the centre of Liverpool, we headed towards the Albert Dock where we got some lunch and had a few cocktails. After an hour of relaxing in the sun, we got ready for the Beatles experience which inspired us to recreate The Beatles Abbey Road album cover which did take multiple attempts – who knew fake walking could be so difficult?

After taking pictures at every iconic landmark in Liverpool and exploring the city, we went for dinner at the Salt House Tapas which was amazing! With all of us absolutely stuffed we went back to the hotel to collect our bags and headed back to the Port where we got the Stena Line overnight crossing back to Belfast.

After our trip we worked with Street Monkey to create a video for Stena Line’s social channels which documented our trip.

Check out the video!

 

I accomplished a very successful year at Ardmore and the experience gained will be invaluable in my future career path. I gained a better understanding of the advertising industry; agency life and how one campaign could have a widespread effect on consumers and their buying habits. The year at Ardmore helped me develop my own personal skillset which 100% will benefit me in any career path I may undertake in my future.

Because of my placement year I now have a greater understanding of what goes behind all those ads we drive past daily and realize that it is not just a straightforward process of designing something and getting it printed or dispatched. One simple strapline, colour, or design could have weeks and weeks of work behind it.

I worked with private and public sector clients, and can say that it opened my eyes a lot in terms of budgets and even just the general handling of clients.  The key activities I undertook each day enabled me to attain a greater understanding on the foundations of advertising that are essential for any career in the industry.

As a result of spending one year in a top advertising agency in Northern Ireland, I have valued my experience and believe that I will benefit when applying for jobs when I graduate because of the experience I have had.  The Ardmore team are amazing and were so welcoming to me on my year in Ardmore – there’s no two days the same in Ardmore and that’s the beauty of it.

Hopefully if you are thinking about doing a placement year or not, this blog piece will help you to make the decision that is right for you!

Christine Murtagh is a final year Bsc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University. Find her on Twitter @Cmurtagh95, and Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christine-murtagh-413409b9/

 

Malaysia, Bali and Itchy Travel Feet!

Malaysia, Bali and Itchy Travel Feet!

Have you ever just felt stuck in a bubble of reality? Caught up on the little things: someone eating too loud, the bad weather…whatever it is.

We spend so much of our energy focusing on things we have very little control over, instead of focusing and what we want and working for it.

Not to get into the boring detail of it, but I was having a bad day, it felt like things just weren’t going my way and my mind was focused on everything negative going on around me BUT I am not complaining. This made me make the best decision of my life!

That night I was sitting on the edge of my bed, scrolling through Facebook (as you do) feeling sorry for myself, when an ad for an 18 day trip to Bali popped up at the side, I do normally ignore these but I was intrigued. I clicked in and straight away I knew this was it. Call me impulsive, but I didn’t think twice, I got my bank card out and put the deposit down (lucky it was just after pay day!) All jokes aside, I didn’t look back.

Call it fate or call it good advertising, I don’t care!

I had been debating for months whether to go travelling in the summer when uni finished or to save up and go when I graduated. Considering I couldn’t convince ONE friend to come with me, I was a bit apprehensive of booking alone but I did just that. A few months later, after talking about it so much I had managed to convince one of my friends to book on with me and that’s where our adventure began!

The trip included 18 days travelling around Bali everything planned to a T! We didn’t have to worry about doing research as The Bali Adventure had done all the dirty work for us. All we had to do was show up on the 2nd of August. With the itchy travel feet I had, I also managed to persuade my friend to book a week in Malaysia before Bali as well. Bonus!

After months of saving and excitement, we packed our bags and went.

After an extremely long and tiring flight we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. With Indonesia having the largest Muslim population in the world, this was a huge culture shock. We clearly stood out from the crowd!

We spent our time in Malaysia exploring the beautiful Kuala Lumpur (KL) visiting the famous Petronas Twin Tours, Suria KLCC Shopping Complex and my favourite of all and the best area for bargain hunters…China Town. TIP: If you want to buy something in China Town, get ready to haggle – It is offensive if you don’t! Hate to admit it but…we decided to eat in an Irish Restaurant almost every day we were there, not so cultured…

A week on, exploring of KL done, now time to catch the flight to Bali. I cannot even describe how excited I was! The flight was only 2 hours but felt like FOREVER!

This is where the real adventure began!
We started off in South Kuta, where we stayed in The Hidden Valley hotel, our first destination. We got checked in and Day 1 was spent exploring the area, chilling by the pool and meeting our new friends that we were spending the next 18 days with! The next day we started with a welcome breakfast and we got the choice of a group yoga session or chilling by the pool…with a few too many drinks the night before I choose chilling by the pool! In the afternoon we had a group surf lesson in one of the most famous surf destinations of Bali, I think I managed to stand up on the board a total of 2 or 3 times…I’m not going to be a pro any time soon! That afternoon we headed to the Uluwatu Temple to watch the sunset alongside a traditional Balinese Kecak Fire Dance, I have never seen anything like it in my life, if you ever go, you have to see!

The next few days we spent visiting the spiritural Batuan temple, followed by an afternoon at the absolutely stunning Tegenungan Waterfall and an evening tour of Bali Zoo…WOW! We caught a rare glimpse of the animal kingdom and how they live when darkness falls (I even caught an Orangutang trying to pick pocket me!)

We explored the monkey forest sanctuary (the monkeys are cute but very scary!) the Tegalalang Rice Terrace and took in the beautiful sites around us. We started travelling across to the West of the Island to Bratan Lake, stopping of at the picturesque Ulundanu Bratan Temple and the Gitgit waterfall for a dip on our way to Lovina where we spent the next few days. A 5am start and we got to see the dolphins at sunrise on a traditional outrigger boat and for all you coffee lovers, we got to taste the world’s most expensive coffee produced from the Luwak animal. Another early start and we began to trek an active volcano, Mount Batur…a once in a lifetime experience!

Lastly, we spent a few days on my favourite island…Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T…all I can say is look at it for yourself.

If you haven’t been to Bali…you are missing out! With The Bali Adventure we were able to travel in luxury, with a backpacker’s budget and made some amazing friends for life, some even planning to come over to Ireland for St Patricks day!

If Bali isn’t on your bucket list, stick it on!

To see a full itinerary, click here

Christine Murtagh is a final year BSc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University. Find her on Twitter @Cmurtagh95, and Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christine-murtagh-413409b9/

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas, Christmas and more Christmas

It’s not a day past Halloween, we see more and more of the red, the gold, the Santa’s, the Mrs Claus’. Its creeps into November and we begin to hear Fairy Tale of New York on the radio, in store and on TV, it’s everywhere.

By the beginning of November, every shop we go into has Christmas music blasting, decorations in their window and Christmas trees at the entrance and advent calendars in before the pumpkins sell out – commercialization at its finest. It is, the “Modern day Christmas.”

People line up for hours on end to get the most popular toys, shoes, clothes, new releases and to meet the “Real” Santa Claus. Everywhere we go we hear a strained mother or father whispering to their children “Santa’s watching” to get them to behave.

Today, Christmas has become writing the longest wish list, sharing videos on YouTube watching young children telling their friends “What I got for Christmas” stating they’re “trying not to brag” and let’s face it, everyone has access to YouTube now.

What happened to the days when we sat by the fire, watching Christmas movies in our pj’s with the family, everyone got one or two gifts and all were happy?

Christmas has become more than this, its parents posting to Facebook on Christmas Eve pictures of their children’s toys on the sofa for other parents to see. It’s a competition of who got what and who’s is better. Whether we like it or not, it is reality.  It’s no one’s fault that this commercialization has happened, but it has and now many parents are feeling the pressure – after all, no one wants to let their kids down on Christmas day, especially not due to dry funds.

It’s supposed to be a time when families come together, not to talk about the presents our partners, our kids or our parents got us, but to talk about all the fun times had in the previous year and to plan the fun times in the year ahead, it’s spreading the festive cheer and making each other smile.

The thought of Christmas for some fills them with fear and anxiety, but for others, it is a joyous, fun and exciting time of year.

Being someone who has worked in retail at Christmas for over 3 years now, I have heard and seen it ALL. From rude and abrupt customers complaining about 5p for a bag to those requesting something “more expensive” or something “a lot cheaper” it is evident to say that, for the fortunate ones, Christmas can be a fun time for giving our loved ones what they want and deserve but for others, it’s not just so simple, its saving up all year to pay off last year’s Christmas debts, it’s the worrisome sleepless nights, the lack of funds for even the essentials.

Just remember that those serving you at Christmas have been working long shifts with neither barely a toilet break nor a bite to eat – it can get warm, repetitive and exhausting and sometimes we don’t want to smile when you complain or ask stupid questions. We are human, but again, that’s all part of it…

Not only is it ques upon ques, with wild eyed customers glaring waiting for your attention, it is long shifts, crowds, repetitive playlists of Christmas music, stockrooms brimming to the full, its 12 hours of fake smiling and conversation.

I may sound like a scrooge, but please, do not be fooled! I love Christmas, the cold nights around the fire and the Christmas songs on the radio, it’s cheery, full of bargains and after all, it’s time dedicated to spend with family and friends!

Christine Murtagh is a final year Bsc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University. Find her on Twitter @Cmurtagh95, and Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christine-murtagh-413409b9/