Making it Work

Making It Work: Dublin marketing agency Thinkhouse eyes European expansion

Founded in 2001 by Jane McDaid, the agency hopes Ireland can grow into a go-to destination for global brands seeking marketing and advertising services

David Coyle, head of commercial operations, and Jane McDaid,, founder, Thinkhouse. Picture: Maura Hickey

Thinkhouse, a Dublin-based marketing agency, expects to expand its operations across international markets throughout Europe over the next 18 months after recording strong growth in Ireland and Britain over recent years.

Founded by Jane McDaid in 2001, Thinkhouse is a marketing agency with 43 staff that is focused on youth marketing. Some of its key clients include Heineken, Tourism Ireland, Barry’s Tea and EY, among others.

“We prepare companies for the next generation of citizens, using insights and examination of attitudinal behaviours,” David Coyle, head of commercial operations at Thinkhouse, told the Business Post.

“This includes PR, digital marketing and content creation. We work across FMCG, financial services, semi-state and public bodies and not for profit bodies as well.”

Fact File

Founded: 2001, by Jane McDaid

Staff: 43

Key clients: Heineken, Tourism Ireland, Barry’s Tea and EY

McDaid started the business after working in other agencies at the start of her career and felt there wasn’t enough of a focus on youth marketing in the sector.

“She went out into the market herself with the feeling that brands weren’t connecting culturally with that youth demographic. We began as a PR firm and very early, digital agency. I joined in 2004 and we were really lucky to pick up brands like Ben & Jerry’s back then,” Coyle said.

“That gave us the investment to work on emerging social platforms like Bebo. That early adoption of digital powered us in the first years of the business,” he added.

Working with well known brands in its early days, including Unilever and Coca-Cola, helped Thinkhouse establish its presence in the marketplace. It built on this early success by investing in an in-house video production team, which enabled the company to provide an even braoder range of services to large consumer facing clients.

“We were one of the first agencies in Ireland to provide that one stop shop. We were agile and could turn around content quickly,” Coyle said.

The business has grown strongly over the past 10 years in its core markets in Ireland and Britain, helping it to win more international accounts. The firm recently won eight awards at the prestigious Cannes Lions marketing awards for its work with Heineken, while it was also named a sustainable development goal champion by the government for 2024.

Alongside this, Thinkhouse has also worked with Enterprise Ireland since 2011 to help drive its international growth.

“We were looking for ways to attract international companies and we knew Enterprise Ireland had resources to help SMEs like ourselves. They were really helpful in providing market intelligence and in training to go global,” Coyle said.

“That has helped us attract business into Ireland from abroad. They have also provided a wide range of grant support that we have availed of.”

Coyle said he is currently working with the state’s business development agency to try and attract more companies in the Irish marketing industry to work alongside Thinkhouse. He said greater collaboration between agencies would help grow Ireland as a destination for international business to come to Ireland for marketing and advertising services, and help the overall sector to grow.

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“We are great at storytelling so why shouldn’t we attract the same level of business as London or Amsterdam?”, Coyle said.

He added that Thinkhouse is also at the early stages of investigating how to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into its business model to support growth, but said the firm will take a cautious approach to how it deploys the technology.

“A big area for the next two years is to incorporate AI into our business to help us drive efficiency and provide more value to our clients,” he added.

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland