Radio Telefís Éireann (RTÉ), as the host broadcaster for this edition of the contest, decided that the show's production style needed to be revamped in order to attract and sustain a younger audience. They employed Declan Lowney (who was notable for being a director of music videos and youth programming) as director for this edition, and he would also direct the interval act which included the popular Irish rock group Hothouse Flowers which was filmed in 11 countries around Europe and was the most expensive music video ever produced in Ireland at that time. The traditional scoreboard was replaced with 2 giant Vidiwalls located on either side of the stage, which also projected live images of the performers from the green room, and a new computer-generated scoreboard was used. The stage itself, conceived by Paula Farrell under chief production designer Michael Grogan, was also the largest and most elaborate ever constructed for a Eurovision. To compensate for the fact that the vast stage took up most of the room in what is really an average size exhibition hall, the Director deliberately darkened the hall where the audience was located and refused to use wide angled shots of the audience, in order to create the illusion of the venue being bigger than it actually was.
Cyprus was drawn second to compete in Dublin and had selected the song 'Thimame' sung by Yiannis Dimitrou as their entry. However, at a late stage CyBC decided that the song was ineligible to represent them as it had been entered into the 1984 Cypriot selection, where it had finished in 3rd place. This was classed as a breach of the Cypriot rules of selecting their entry at this time (and an infringement of the Eurovision rules) and so Cyprus withdrew from the 1988 contest. It was quite a last-minute decision as the song was advertised in the Radio Times information about the preview programme of the contest. The song also appears on the Norwegian record release of the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest entries.