Monday, September 13, 2010

Smirnoff 'Be There' - Nightlife Exchange Project

With everything from a Wedding Night to a Masquerade Ball to a trip to Rio Carnival, the last year has seen Smirnoff doing some of the most original and exciting events that I think Dublin has ever seen. The question is, where do you go from there? Topping these and bringing something similarly new, unique and exciting to Irish nightlife isn't going to be an easy task. Perhaps unsurprisingly though, it looks like Smirnoff have done just that.

Smirnoff's latest 'Be There' endeavour, the Nightlife Exchange Project, is a serious international undertaking that looks to continue those previous glories but also taking the whole 'Be there' concept to a new level, and introducing us to an international night out while giving another country all that is brilliant about a night out in Ireland. The Smirnoff 'Nightlife Exchange Project’ sees the public of 14 countries given the opportunity to nominate what they think are the best bits of their country's nightlife. These ideas will then be captured by a suitable person who lives and works at the heart of their country's nightlife. Finally, all the best bits of each country's nightlife will be packed-up in a crate and transformed into exciting event experiences. Each country will be sistered with another and on the 27th November, the world will swap nights. The 14 countries, coming from 6 continents, who will take part in the project are: USA, UK, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Lebanon, Poland, South Africa, Thailand and Venezuela.

Smirnoff Ireland Brand Manager Carol McHugh said, “Smirnoff Ireland is delighted to be part of this exciting initiative, showcasing the best of Irish nightlife to a global audience. The Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project is the most exciting example of creating a 'Be There' moment yet”.

From an Irish perspective the project is being driven via Facebook. To do this the existing Smirnoff Ireland Facebook page has been upgraded to host a specially created hub through which consumers are invited to add their suggestions for what represents the best of Irish nightlife. This might be a specific type of music, a locally-conceived cocktail or a fashion trend unique to a particular part of the world. Once the suggestions are in, it will be up to a local expert Curator in each country to decide what will represent the very best of each country’s nightlife in the exchange. However, you can also follow the project through the project twitter profile using #SmirnoffXChangeirl for your updates.

Siobhan O’Dowd and I at the launch of the Smirnoff 'Nightlife Exchange Project’

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the project and got to meet Ireland's Nightlife Exchange Project curator, Siobhan O’Dowd. Siobhan is Director of Marketing at POD and a former Entertainment Officer at Trinity College Dublin. Siobhan is also one of the driving forces behind Electric Picnic. There's no doubt that Siobhan is perfectly suited to help shape and direct what Ireland crate will eventually look like. I was lucky enough to be able to grab 15min with Siobhan and ask her a couple of questions about what all of this meant to her.

What attracted you to the project?
I love the idea of working on a global project. I love the idea of showcasing the best of Irish nightlife internationally, as currently Dublin is way behind other European cities like Barcelona, Paris, London in terms of perception and that needs to change. I love the concept of tapping into what constitutes an amazing night out for people, from both an event promoter perspective, and from a more personal loving-finding-out-what-makes-people-tick one. I love the idea of getting as much interaction as possible from people on this via the Smirnoff Ireland Facebook page, as this crate is not about me, it’s about all of us...

When you were told the concept, what immediately sprung into your own mind as things that would go into the crate?
I think I did a mental flick through of my Facebook photographs to catalogue the best moments I've had in the past few months, and came up with some of my hit-list that way – that would be the Irish BBQ (where you end up cooking it in the oven), fancy-dress parties, brunch – it’s amazing how much of mine would revolve around food actually... The Ulster fry, Guinness Stew, jelly & ice-cream, they’d definitely have to feature! For music it would be my Saturday Pod residents – David DeValera for house & techno, Rob Linnane, Eoin Long and Matt Quigley for their smooth & soulful Chocolate Bar sounds, Cue Cuts as the newest electro trio to emerge on the local resident scene of late, and bands such as Miracle Bell for some serious music or Attention Bebe for some fun. It would be a mix of fun, and good contemporary cutting edge talent basically – a three dimensional package that would give another country a true insight into what a good night out in Ireland actually involves shattering any preconceptions about leprechuns and colleens. In fact, my problem would be like all my holiday packing endeavours and knowing what I can’t fit in the suitcase...

Electric Picnic is certainly a unique concept within the Irish market, do you think that the Smirnoff 'Be There' events have the same originality to them?
It’s difficult to parallel the two – I'm all on for originality in all of it’s guises and think creativity is to be encouraged as much as possible!

And do you think it's the success of Electric Picnic that has made you the perfect person to curate Ireland's crate?
I think being a part of Electric Picnic is probably the most high profile of the events that I have worked on, but having a love of lots of different aspects of music, arts and culture probably broadens the scope of what I’ll be looking for, and that will hopefully lead to a truer reflection of Irish culture. My Undergraduate degree in Drama & Theatre Studies, my year as Entertainments Officer in Trinity, and nine years working with Pod on every music genre under the sun from techno to country will all hopefully lend themselves to helping curate various aspects of the feedback and ideas that are generated through the Facebook integration.
What are you looking forward to most about the whole project?
It’s hard to say – on one hand it’s getting involved with people this end and finding out as much as possible about what constitutes their best night out, on another it’s going to be receiving the crate from our sister country to work out what bits translate and what bits don’t, so that we have an amazing event that Irish people “get”, while still reflecting the culture of our sister city.

If the country we are paired with was up to you, who would be top of your list?
I’d have to say Australia, Argentina or Brazil as I’ve never been to any of those places and I’d love to get to know them better. I’d like least to be paired with a country with a similar culture, as it would be much more difficult to make the event really different, stand-out & essentially, special.

Finally, what's a perfect Irish night out for you?
It would start with a get-ready with some of the girls & guys over for food (token effort healthy bits that always get left at the end, lashings of evil carbs and greasy party stuff), cocktails, and leaving the house looking like a clothes & make-up-bomb has gone off. It would continue to somewhere like the No-Name bar or anywhere on Camden St, and mood dependently continue to a spot for tunes such as Pygmalion or Pod, or maybe to Odessa for more chats than dancing, or if it was one of *those* nights to anywhere that permits throwing shapes around a handbag. Then to Ricks Burgers on the corner of Georges Street, then all back to ours for one more tune... The night out would also have to include the brunch the next day for a full on fry-up! It would be interesting to see what the other Curators might make of that one I guess...

Being completely truthful, I'm totally looking forward to seeing what we decide is Ireland's best bits of a night out and I have no doubt that Siobhan will do a bang up job - this is definitely a really great idea. For now though it's all about submitting ideas, before the results are revealed to the public on October 22nd. Stay tuned anyway and as soon as I hear anything new I'll post an update.


Philip Boyle said...

I've been to some of Smirnoff's events before and they certainly know how to throw a party. It'll be interesting to see how closely our own ideas for a night out match the international stereotypes about us though - i.e. all about the drink. With a drinks company as a sponsor it'll be hard to avoid!

le craic said...

I'm waiting for the Smirnoff sponsored "Reality rehab" - each week an alcohol addict goes through tasks in order to win the ultimate prize of a treatment programme for their addiction.

So photographs from A&E departments should go in the box along with vomit paved streets, snippets from local newspapers of the various alcohol related crimes and domestic violence in the court reports.

too much marketing for alcohol in this country...

Christian Hughes said...

I'd disagree, I think that there is a very healthy system of alcohol advertising in Ireland and the nature in which it is done surpasses the freedom allowed to alcoholic brands in many western countries. If you look at what Smirnoff are actually doing here, you'd see that it's about the night, about what makes a good time, it's about venues, activities and friends. It's not about the booze and it's not about getting drunk.