Our friend Jonathan Irwin

We first met Jonathan Irwin of the Jack and Jill Foundation when he joined us to launch his “€1 tip” to be added to your restaurant bill campaign in Cork before Christmas many moons ago, in the very early days of Fuzion.

Our client at the time, Hayfield Manor were happy to come on board and as the savvy marketer that he was, Jonathan was delighted to make the trip for the photocall and press release.

That started our relationship with him, and having heard about the work of the foundation we offered our services to him pro bono which he gratefully accepted. After his own tragic experience with his own children he literally gave up his successful career to devote himself to both awareness and fund raising for the most “damaged children” in Ireland, as he referred to them. This was the least that we could do.

Jonathan was always ten steps ahead and he led the way with how he ran the foundation as well as bringing his creativity to his fundraising – for example, he was the first one to turn unused mobile phones into valuable cash. Do you remember those drop off boxes everywhere?

One day Jonathan rang us and he spoke about formalising the relationship with us – he wanted to call on us professionally when he needed to, not just when we had some spare capacity. He acknowledged that like the rest of us we had our bills to pay, and he wanted to make sure that we weren’t out of pocket and at the same time he saw the monetary value in generating awareness for the work the Foundation was doing as well as the specific initiatives. Of course if we were to bill the foundation we would have given him a special rate.

He wanted us to meet him and to make a formal proposal.

When we did meet him he brought another PR professional with him, which surprised us. He explained that this lady would look after the “national/Dublin” press and that we could do all of the regional work.

I’ll be honest, this took us by surprise and we just sat there quietly and listened.

On the drive home I chatted with Dee. It made no sense for Jonathan and the Jack and Jill Foundation to pay two different PR agencies. One was more than sufficient and while we wanted that to be us we decided to bow out of the process and leave the work to the other woman.

I rang Jonathan the following day to let him know what we had decided and explained that what he was suggesting made no sense. I did tell him that I was very surprised to see another PR person at the meeting as this hadn’t been mentioned beforehand.

He explained that while Fuzion had done a fantastic pro bono job, earning the foundation lots of regional and national media coverage he had a nagging feeling that because we were based in Cork that he would miss out. He admitted there was no basis for this BUT it was a nagging feeling.

I thanked him for his honesty and we left it at that. He thanked us for all of the pro bono work we had done and we parted as good friends.

What Jonathan probably didn’t realise is that his moment of honesty with us was very profound and it changed the direction of Fuzion.

I chatted with Dee and we decided that if we were to be a bona fide national agency then we had to open a Dublin office. Soon after we opened an office, employed one person and then two and then three and the rest is history (it wasn’t an easy process establishing yourself in the capital but we dug in there, spend loads of time there and never gave up).

Today we are that national agency, proudly boasting to clients that we have offices in Dublin and Cork (the only brand communications agency to do so) and while we would have got there anyway Jonathan did certainly spur us on.

Jonathan, we are so sad to hear about your passing. You were great fun, a treasure of a man and while you have left a colossal legacy you will be sadly missed by us and by Ireland,

Thank you and Rest in Peace


Greg is a partner at Fuzion Brand Communications agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

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