Monday, 1 September 2008


“Jan has an idea for some kind of viral marketing campaign” Simon said. He threw this comment in about ten days ago as I was in the trenches, desperately fighting to get through to corporate sponsors.


“Interesting.” I said. I wasn’t having much success with the sponsorship search and perhaps the only interesting part of it at that time was that I didn’t know what it was – as it turns out neither did Simon’s flatmate Jan who came across the idea!


Whatever viral marketing meant, at least it sounded different. I didn’t know enough about it to judge if it was good or bad but it did sound different to the direct corporate sponsorship approach that we have been taking so far.


The three of us met last Wednesday night. “What’s the story Jan?” I said. The answer was pretty simple. “If you can’t get one big sponsor then why not get lots of people who are excited about what you are doing to get involved” Jan said. “So, if you need €100,000 then if you could get 100,000 people to pay €1 each or 10,000 people to pay €10 or whatever”.


I got the concept instantly. Create something that lots and lots of people will pay for and then get out there and sell it.


“What about a flag” Simon said. A flag is afterall what you would expect to plant at the South Pole and that started us on a roll of ideas which rapidly wound up with: “The South Pole Flag- Come to the South Pole for a tenner!”


We tried to avoid thinking too much about the website name and just stuck with The meeting only lasted about an hour. By the end we had the idea, the website name and the price sorted. All we have to do now is sell the spaces but I hope that is in our control.  


For weeks now it has felt that securing the finances are out of my control and I hate that feeling. The same feeling happens everyday when I am trying to do the simple things in life – browsing a menu, taking a stroll in a new city or catching the eye of a random girl – the blindness has stolen these things from me. That’s life when you can’t see but it is the reason why I am so excited about our new approach.


It started with an idea that Jan didn’t know much about and I do not yet know if it will work but I think we have a chance of making it work. It gives us a chance of taking control of the finances despite the recession, tightening sponsorship budgets and the dreaded misalignment with “company policy”.


I think there are 10,000 people out there with €10 to spend…it is up to us to find them. Maybe we’ll have to make 10,000 sales, maybe 10 companies will buy 1,000 slots on the flag and give them away to staff and clients, maybe we’ll get the elusive big sponsor…time will tell.