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ThinkIrish.ie – an overdue follow up (part 1)

Back in March, I wrote about the then new buy Irish campaign, ThinkIrish.ie. At that time, I reserved opinion on the campaign because it was lacking in the information provided on the website surrounding who was behind the campaign, where the finances for the campaign were coming from, and what direction the campaign was going to take.

Following my post, I received some clarifications and extra information from Alan Graham, campaign director for ThinkIrish.ie. In the coming days, I’m going to publish those communications.

From my own perspective, as I said originally about the campaign, while one can’t but support the key motivation behind the campaign – buying Irish with a view to creating jobs in Ireland – I’m not fully convinced.

Commenters on my original blog post had the following to say about my questioning of the campaign:

Good god but you’re a miserable fecker these days. Can you give a break on the whole if not an idea you came up with it’s c**p routine….

We’re all entitled to our opinions. My questioning comes entirely from the fact that I won’t unquestioningly regurgitate a press release to fill up space here on the website – unlike many others elsewhere, I’m going to do a little digging to find out what’s actually going on. I was one of the first to question the motives of both the IdeasCampaign and YourCountryYourCall – quite rightly and legitimately as it’s turned out on both occasions.

For now, here’s the first e-mail I received from Alan giving further details on the ThinkIrish.ie campaign:

Spotted your piece on ValueIreland and really just wanted to fill in some of the gaps for you on the background to ThinkIrish.ie

First and foremost we’re a not-for-profit. Moreover we’re in the final stages of registration as a charity and hope to conclude that early next week.

Jonathan Stanley is the man who was first to put his hand in his pocket to fund the campaign (and cajole some friends and colleagues to join the board) – he’s a serial retail entrepreneur who set up Let’s Talk Phones, Cards ‘n’ Things and more recently Homestore and More.

His motivation is entirely altruistic, a desire to do something about the state of the economy – and in particular the unemployed. More recently, he’s been joined in the “donor” camp by worky.com who have kindly given us some fresh funds BUT again they’re not a benefiting party to the campaign and nor are they part of any interest group within the manufacturing and producer groups we’re looking to promote.

We’re out there on a daily basis seeking additional funding and it’s not easy in this environment. Any comparison with Your Country Your Call is far too flattering to our budgets – we’re hugely boot-strapped and are running the campaign on a shoe-string.

Professional services (such as PR, website design etc.) are all being provided entirely PRO-BONO (Financial Dynamics and Bonfire Design have been hugely supportive). We couldn’t afford them if it wasn’t and we’re hugely thankful for that. IrishJobs.ie have offered us some free advertising (which is why you might see our banner ad on their site) as have teamer.net. Car stickers and retailer window decals we have produced were printed free by Horizon Graphics and we have the promise of some free radio ads with Communicorp – we’re fast becoming professional beggars!

This really, really is a grass-roots, consumer campaign Diarmuid and to gain traction we need the consumer on-board and qualifying manufacturers to engage with the directory.

We are asking everyone to think Irish but we’re also providing them with a product directory that will help to overcome some of the confusion with regards to what is and is not Irish made. We think consumer confidence has been massively undermined in that regard over the last number of years – hopefully we can help to address that.

The directory is a real simple (and not especially innovative) idea and it’s just surprising that Ireland hasn’t had one up till now. They have them in the US, New Zealand, the UK and Australia (to name just a few countries). We’re talking to someone about doing an iphone app for us FOC which would be cool and bring the directory to point of purchase – giving real power back to the consumer.

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