Guest blog: Foo Fighters phenomenon


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Don’t procrastinate. Take the first step and keep going. That’s the message from Nigel Barker.

Alexis Bowater once said to me: “The hardest part of going round the world is buying the ticket.”

The much talked about Crowdfunder campaign ‘Bring The Foo Fighters To Cornwall’ feels like a round the world trip and it started with one simple step.

What was initially a cheeky Facebook post to get 1000 likes has now become the fastest grossing Crowdfunder campaign anywhere outside the USA with the target of £150,000 pledged in just two days.

At this point most businesses people would take stock, plan, have a meeting, produce a GANTT chart, do a cost analysis.  In short they would procrastinate.

What masquerades as careful planning is often a tactic to avoid taking any action.

Organisers Angela Young and James Warner from Warner Young just got on the phone and started making stuff happen.

In my day job I work for MPAD in Truro and we have long adopted an Agile methodology for creative projects with a positive impact.  This project is a great example of Agile and ‘positive impact’ in action.

Angela did what all great entrepreneurs do – she used her immediate network and the tools at her disposal, mobile phone, email and social media.

She also ignored the nay-sayers (and believe me, there are some out there.)  The attitude being “If we end up with a bit of egg on our face, so what, at least we can say we tried!”

With help from Jess Ratty from Crowdfunder a campaign was hatched within ten minutes.

Having got to know Angela when I was a presenter on Atlantic, I was drafted in to front the campaign video.   I knew Tam Johnstone from my radio days, a five-minute Facebook chat between Angela, Tam and myself and we had a location and date – I wasn’t doing anything on Saturday any way!

The campaign went live at 6:00pm on Monday September 29 and the social media ‘Twitteratti’ went to work.

By 10:30 there was £50,000 on the table in pledges – WOW!

It’s worth remembering that throughout this everyone was working their regular day jobs, me in PR at MPAD, Angela and James running five businesses between them and Tam working on two documentaries.

If we had used the conventional business model we wouldn’t even have managed to get everyone in a room together to discuss it by this point.

A rough and ready PR campaign kicked in, there were no press releases to sign off, just late nights, key messages and spade work.  My wife tutting at me when I told her I was just communicating with Radio 1’s Zane Lowe on my iPad from bed – she has a thing for old Zipper.

Coverage across the local media was vital to maintain momentum; national media picked up on the story, The Mirror online and the NME spread the word far and wide.  By then it was inevitable, it was just a question of when would we hit our Crowdfunder target.

53 hours after the campaign officially launched the people of Cornwall had pledged £150,000.  Mission one accomplished!

Now the real work starts, Angela and James are working flat out on securing a commitment and a date from the Foo Fighters.  The PR machine is working to generate coverage across the UK and the pledging continues. At the time of writing this blog we stand at £174, 826.  What’s it at now?  I don’t know, check for yourself here.

This week, the Cornish business community has once again proved that it deserves the title community.  If every business had this drive, ambition and Agile approach, imagine what a positive impact could be made.

About the author:

Nigel Barker is senior account manager with MPAD in Truro.