Avid readers of our blog will know that W+K London is a huge champion of The International Exchange, better known as TIE.
The programme has been running for 8 years and we're pleased to have have had several TIE volunteers take part from W+K- even in its very first year we sent the wonderful Penny Brough on an adventure to Recife put her knowledge of comms to good use.
Ryan Fisher then closely followed with a trip to Inata; Hanne went to Uganda; Ben to Malawi and Kelly is all set to head off to Brazil in early 2016.
And now TIE has launched its own campaign to talk about its work. It focuses on the power of the TIE program: to develop the future leaders of a company so that they can be exceptional, to demonstrate the power of the communications industry as a force for good, to provide people and companies with an opportunity to feel proud of their profession and the skills they have worked so hard to develop.
Our friends at BBH created the work. It heroes Terry. What you need to ask yourself is, "are you the next Terry?" Click here to view the spot and print work (which follows on from the launch of TIE's new site).
We at W+K encourage as many of you to get behind the campaign, talk up the value of TIE and make sure we keep getting the right people out there to help communications make an impact to as many lives as possible around the globe.
Check back in early 2016 for an update on our very own Kelly in Brazil.
Every year Wieden and Kennedy send someone to work for a charity in a developing country. The month-long placement is part of The International Exchange scheme and the idea is that we are able to help out small, non-profit organizations by bringing some of what we know into their world. This year, I was lucky enough to be picked and I’ve spent my time in Malawi at a charity called Kusamala, working to improve agricultural practices amongst rural farmers.
In my short stay, I’ve looked at the way the charity approaches funding, education and communications. I think that being able to view their work from a creative and more business orientated perspective has helped open up new ways of thinking, resulting in new course offerings, a new visual identity and templates for promotional material moving forward.
I’ve learnt a whole lot about Africa, Farming and the way that aid organizations work. It’ been a pretty eye opening experience. Have I single handedly saved Africa? Nope. But I’ve got a much better sense of Malawi as a whole and the way that aid organizations currently work.
I’ve come to realize that help from the West is useful, but we shouldn’t assume that we’ve got all the answers.
Developed nations coming to ‘fix things’ is not necessarily the way forward and often we’re just confusing people with so many different opinions and initiatives. For most people that live here, there’s always been people coming and going with some new ‘life changing’ initiative. Lots of broken promises have left people skeptical, and I don’t blame them. More often than not, when an initiative ends and the organization leaves everybody goes back to their old ways. They only changed because there was an incentive at the time, not because they fully believed in the cause.
With an average life expectancy now at around 50 years (it’s on the up), the concept of making the world a better place for our children is not top of the list. A bad crop, Aids, Malaria, flooding or disease are real threats that are more of a concern than thinking 20 years ahead. It’s hard for people coming in from developed countries to see this way of thinking (myself included) and it’s hard to get villagers to see the bigger picture. This unfortunately leads to a lot of instances where people are out for short-term rewards, shooting themselves in the foot in the long run.
Having met a lot of interesting people over here working for different organizations, you hear a lot of horror stories about initiatives going wrong. (Everyone seems to have a few tales to tell so I can’t vouch for the complete accuracy of them!)
I’ve heard stories of NGO’s offering monetary incentives for afforestation, only to find out the village chief ordered a forest to be chopped down so that they could make more money from planting trees! In the recent floods aid was given to 1000 villagers in a camp for those displaced by the water. That evening the charity realized that only 60 people actually stayed there at night, the rest had come from the surrounding area for the free hand outs. Mosquito nets were provided to new mothers to reduce the rate of infant mortality due to Malaria. These were used to make fishing nets. The list goes on and I’m sure for every horror story there are a dozen successes. However, this is what has puzzled me the most. Are we just getting it completely wrong? Is what the West perceives as pressing issues given the same weight over here?
As part of our ongoing relationship with leadership development programme The International Exchange, W+K Creative Ben is spending a month working with the Kusamala Institute in Malawi.
I arrived in Malawi on Sunday afternoon to begin my month long project helping out at The Kusamala Institute of Agriculture & Ecology, a permaculture NGO based in Lilongwe. They are a young charity with lots of big ideas about tackling issues related to nutrition, agriculture and biodiversity. They want to start being less dependent on external funding by offering money-generating services based around permaculture. This is where I’ve been asked to help them out, working on branding Kusamala and packaging their projects in a way that allows them to tell more people about the work they do and the services they offer.
I’ve spent this week getting to know all the different things this charity does, asking a lot of questions along the way.
I started by tagging along on one of Kusamala’s permaculture courses, aimed at teaching people how to implement sustainable agricultural systems. The basic principle mirrors the way a forest’s ecosystem works to create a range of harvestable crops that don’t need fertilizer, pesticides or soil maintenance. (It’s a lot more interesting/complicated than that, you can read more about it here).
I then spent a lot of time meeting some really interesting people doing amazing things both inside this organization and in partner companies. In particular, I’ve been interested in the work that ‘Agro-Tech’ is doing over here, looking at mapping systems to monitor aid distribution and land productivity using a combination of bar codes and GPS mapping.
Finally on Friday of this week I went out into the Dowa district to visit some of the 15000 farms that Kusamala supports through the permaculture farming initiative. It was incredible to see rural Malawi and also realize the dependency on government subsidized Maize and Tobacco crops. This was the first time that I could see the benefits of the work that Kusamala does, with noticeably better crop yields and a wider diversity of produce. (More about this on my blog).
What originally seemed like a fairly straight forward task just keeps getting bigger and more complicated when you start factoring in donor partners, other NGO’s working in the same space, different needs for aid and also the way that funding is structured. There are a lot of things that don’t make sense and it’s clear to see that my confusion this week has been shared by most people in tis sector for years, if not decades.
So that’s where I’ve go to. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve asked a lot of questions, but I think I have a few more to go before I can start to actually make a useful contribution to this charity.
Today we celebrate the victors. W+K Creative Director Carlos and his rotation of multiple teammates are basking in the glory of last night’s agency ping pong tournament win. It’s finally beginning to sink in that they hold the crown as W+K's top table tennis doubles team. Competition was tough, stakes were high, tears of joy and heartbreak were shed. Mostly all by Tony D.
The championship served not only as a month of nail-biting agency drama with its own internal promotion campaign (natch) but it also acted as a fundraiser for fellow creative Ben Shaffery’s upcoming trip to Malawi for TIE. We’re sending him there to work as a creative in a charity which helps improve farming practices in Lilongwe.
At last night's much awaited finals, W+Ker Danni Mohammed made us some fancy, tea-based cocktails from her Loose Lips Tea company and there were hot dogs on sale too - all in the name of 'charidee'. A good time was had by all.
As we stow away the ping pongs and nets for a while, Carlos and co await their bespoke printed table tennis bat trophies. For the rest of us it's business as usual, until the rematch...
One week in, and I’m
beginning to find my feet on the red Ugandan soil. As would be expected it’s
a very different reality than the one I’m normally faced with. The environment
and culture is probably as far as you can get away from London adland, but
some of the challenges I’m hoping to tackle through my project are not a
million miles away from what we work with our clients to tackle at W+K - how
can we most effectively package and talk about products and services to develop
the business? In this case the goal is to generate profit to support the
education initiatives run by The Kasiisi Project, so that in the long term the
project can become self-sustainable and less reliant on donations from abroad.
There is no lack of
understanding of the importance of communications here, and everyone I’ve talked
to so far has been incredibly supportive of what I’m doing and sees the value
in it. The problem is that as a small organization, they don’t have the
capacity to develop communications strategies and activities. Which is why TIE
provides such an important service. A volunteer with background from
corporate communications, can help create building blocks that feed into a project's future
processes and become an integral part of their mission.
I’m only a week in –
four more to go, and so much more to learn and new information to digest – but
I’m starting to see the bigger picture. It might not always be a smooth
ride – rural Ugandan roads are notoriously bumpy – but I hope that my month
here will be as beneficial to the project as it has already been to me as a
from W+K and Nic from BBH are throwing a party. Not just any party - a joint party in the name of fundraising.
Through TIE, they
will both be working on projects for NGOs in Uganda and Brazil respectively.
is important part of TIE and for the NGOs they partner with. It means that
initiatives you work on can become a reality, and plans can be put into action.
It’s also a brilliant way of involving everyone in the agency in what you’re
and I thought a night of music and entertainment was an excellent way of
uniting our causes, double our awareness-and fundraising efforts and also to
say a big thanks to everyone who has supported and helped us so far.
The party is ON this Friday at Corbet Place
- conveniently, directly opposite 16 Hanbury Street. A little bit further from
Soho, so kudos to everyone from BBH making the journey across town.
Not only will W+K and BBH’s finest DJs
flex their musical muscle, there will be a special DJ set by MØ (the ‘new
Grimes’ according to The Guardian).
As part of our ongoing relationship with leadership development programme The International Exchange, W+K Account Director Hanne Haugen is about to embark on a project in Uganda. Here's an introduction to the project from Hanne and a little bit about what she has planned during her time there:
In less than three
weeks, I’m off to Uganda for a month to work with an education project in rural
Uganda called The Kasiisi Project. This is very exciting (naturally), but what’s
it got to do with my day job?
The link is The International Exchange. The brainchild of Philippa White, TIE pairs
the expertise of communications professionals with the needs of non-profit/non-governmental
organisations to create positive change.
For the NGO, this
programme provides valuable communication expertise, which is often something
that they are desperately in need of. Making sure the their message is clearly understood, heard and spread,
can make a huge impact for the development of a project and shore up its
For an agency person
like myself, it gives me an opportunity to learn and grow by sharing my
knowledge with organisations, communities and people who face a very different
reality than I'm used to.
16 Hanbury Street is
full to the brim (quite literally) with a lot of very talented, passionate and
dedicated people. What TIE does – and why it’s so important – is give us the
chance to use our skills in a new context and see that they can affect real,
tangible change. It allows us to see the value in what we do. Because what we do is valuable. That’s why
we do it.
This is my first post on
W2O about the month in Uganda I’m about to embark on. It’s not going to be
the last. In the meantime – you can read more about my project and keep up to date with my
experiences in Uganda on my blog.
We hear from Phillippa at The International Exchange that we’re being featured on the IPA
website. The IPA have decided to showcase TIE and a handful of the agencies who work with them on their
Here's what it looks like:
Not only is W+K's very own Ryan Fisher (in the fetching orange T-shirt above) featured on the IPA site, he's also right up front on the TIE homepage:
Account manager Ryan Fisher is off for a bit to Recife in Brazil to work with the charity GTP+. GTP+ was created in December 2000 to be organization run by people living with AIDS and HIV who could develop prevention work in order to contribute to the confrontation of the epidemic.
Ryan's stint out there is part of Wieden + Kennedy's involvement with TIE (The International Exchange), which also saw account director Penny Brough spending a month working with a community group in Brazil last year. The idea behind TUE is to find and select communications professionals who currently work in communications companies from developed
countries and pair them up with suitable NGOs in developing countries.
Our involvement with TIE was originated by our former planning director Stuart Smith, who is quoted on the TIE website:
At Wieden + Kennedy, we're not do-gooders, but we want to do more good.
People in our industry are experts at helping bring about behavioural
change. So why can't we use this special power for good, sometimes,
rather than evil? This is why TIE is such a timely, wonderful and
important creation, and why Wieden + Kennedy got involved at the
outset. It affords our individuals the opportunity to contribute
something meaningful to communities that genuinely need what our people
can offer. The NGO* Plan (in Recife, Brazil) were thrilled with the
positive contribution made by Penny Brough (the first of many
'exchangees' we will be sending from Wieden + Kennedy). Furthermore,
Penny gathered an array of rewarding, rich and broad experiences that
will be of enormous benefit to herself, and to Wieden + Kennedy, for
many years to come.
Stuart's still a big supporter of TIE, as you can see from this pic of him taken at Ryan's fund-raising party:
Ryan will be writing a blog whilst he is out there to share some of the things that he will be doing. You can read it here: pescadorembrasil.