We Are What We Do

How to change the world and influence people




The Vaults, IFSC

At ICAD’s first event of 2006, Eugenie Harvey spoke about one of the world’s fastest-growing new brands – and made hardened cynics feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Mercifully we are no longer what we eat, which must come as a relief to what was fast becoming a nation of paninis. In 2006, according to Eugenie Harvey, We Are What We Do.

That’s the name of the movement Harvey started with David Robinson in London just 18 months ago – and judging by sales of the associated book, “Change the World for a Fiver”, it’s a message that huge numbers of people are buying into.

The book contains 50 simple actions that each of us can perform in our daily lives, which put together will make the world a better place. Happy clappy, hippy dippy, wishy washy? Maybe… but in its first 100 days the book sold 100,000 copies. Since then it has been adapted for publication across Europe and in Canada, Australia and most recently in China. The movement has been blessed (cursed?) by such luminaries as Gordon Brown and the Swiss entrants in this year’s Eurovision, its inventiveness celebrated by the D&AD awards and the Financial Times Creative Business 50.

ICAD had a number of good excuses for inviting Eugenie to address members in Dublin.

As a design object, the book “Change the World for a Fiver” is remarkably inventive and engaging, transforming what could have been a dull and worthy list into a treasury of lively surprises. The book was created with the pro bono help of hundreds of people from the creative, entertainment and publishing industries in the UK.

As a marketing case-study the project is just as instructive, providing a fascinating guide to the many ways in which curiosity and word-of-mouth can be fostered and harnessed locally, nationally and globally. It’s interesting, for example, to see how unselfish Harvey and Robinson are with their ‘brand properties’ – preferring to see the list of 50 actions borrowed, adapted and disseminated further, than stubbornly keeping control. You can’t help thinking that if more conventional brand-owners were a little less litigious and trademark-bound, their brands might do all the better.

But on the night, it wasn’t really the design, advertising or marketing lessons of the We Are What We Do movement that struck the most resonant chord. More so it was the air of inspiration that surrounds the whole thing and fuels its growth. In these industries more than any, it’s always encouraging to see a simple idea, intelligently nurtured, doing so amazingly well.

More details can be found at www.wearewhatwedo.org. For information about forthcoming ICAD events, call 01 6609768.

Dylan Cotter is a writer at IIBBDO, and Vice President of ICAD.

Event curated by Elaine McDevitt.

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