Joanne Olivia sits down to chat with Brian MacRory, of Thinkhouse, about Dublin, internships, and socks.
Thinkhouse is a youth marketing company, with offices in Dublin and London, that connects brands with 16-35 year olds and has been listed as one of ‘The World’s Leading Independent Agencies’ two years in a row.
The company has a lot of in-house creatives including a full design studio, a film and content team, photographers, and copywriters. I met one of their designers, Brian MacRory, in Thinkhouse’s open plan studio (which allegedly has Dublin’s largest disco ball). MacRory has been with the agency since 2016 and has worked on design projects for brands such as Heineken, Deloitte, Bank of Ireland, and Lifestyle Sports.
“At Thinkhouse, we live and breathe youth culture which definitely has an impact on our work.”
We started out with a chat about Dublin as a desired destination for creatives, and the company’s culture. As a creative destination, Dublin is often overshadowed by places such as London, New York, or Berlin and MacRory tells me about Dublin from the perspective of a local, “I think people should see Dublin as a creative destination, it’s full of young people hungry to push the boundaries of creative work. You only need to see some of the amazing work coming out of art colleges or even the underground parties creative collectives are throwing around the city. At Thinkhouse, we live and breathe youth culture that definitely has an impact on our work. It’s class and there are amazing vibes in the office every day. I would move to Dublin if I was from abroad.”
When he tells me about how he got the job in Thinkhouse, he mentions that the agency does not hire any interns but only paid Junior Designers. “One of the things I love about Thinkhouse is how it values young people. I’ve got mates who started out with some of the biggest agencies in Ireland and they didn’t get paid for months, sometimes 6/12 months went by with nothing but lunch and travel money. It’s outrageous. I feel privileged to work in an environment that not only rejects that but fights hard to fix this exploitation problem at an industry level.” He explains internships set up a bad system for the creative industry. “If everyone comes from the same background, they are not going to think differently, like someone would who comes from a different place or social class. It results in a lack of diversity in the creative fields, which is worrying.”
Last December, MacRory was part of the team who launched ‘Trainer Central’ for Lifestyle Sports, which featured Irish up-and-coming Hip-Hop artists Hare Squead. Over a series of weeks, Brian and the design team worked on the look and feel for the campaign, which was rolled out across Ireland and manifested itself in train wraps, online ads, social videos, and on-street and in-store print ads.
“Sneaker and socks seem to offer a safe place for men to express themselves without being judged.”
Within the scope of the project, their team identified that teens, especially young males, find footwear as a great opportunity to express themselves and we detoured into a discussion on what Thinkhouse calls “the hyper-religiosity of urban shoe culture” on their website. It sounds a bit extreme but is not far off. There are Netflix documentaries dedicated to sneaker designers and Brian tells me about a colleague of his, who is an avid collector of trainers. Sneaker and socks seem to offer a safe place for men to express themselves without being judged. When asked about it, Brian says, “I wouldn’t be as into it as others. I’d buy nice runners, but I’m way more into socks.” He was wearing a pair with pretzels on them (I checked).
“The Thinkhouse content team also directed, shot, and edited two brand videos for the campaign and were given a loose brief, which allowed them to experiment with innovative layouts, film editing, lighting, and photography.”
The Thinkhouse content team also directed, shot, and edited two brand videos for the campaign and were given a loose brief, which allowed them to experiment with innovative layouts, film editing, lighting, and photography. Some of the moving content was shot with a Nishika camera about which he speaks in excited tones. “The cameras have four lenses and can take multiple pictures from slightly different angles at once and create 3D-like images.”
They also collaborated with the art collective Subset, who created a mural of runners near Capel Street, to which Brian adds, “we are massive fans of their work. Dublin is such a small community, everyone who is doing cool stuff usually ends up doing cool things together.”
Finally, he explains, “My absolute favourite part was to show my dad a piece of the print work. I got to take him into the store and could say ‘this is what I do.’ He never really understood my job, but I think he kind of gets it now.”
To find out more about Thinkhouses’ global campaigns or current job roles you can follow them on their Instagram @thinkhouse or visit thinkhouse.ie.