Glyn Britton, from integrated agency Albion London, tells us about how Swearjar was born...
On Sunday 14th August I got an email from Tim Malbon of Made by Many. They’d had a get together with Good for Nothing, the people who stage creative collaborations for good causes.
They’d decided to do something about the East African Famine. They realised that this was a crisis on a massive scale, which was hardly getting any attention, because of our preoccupation with the riots and the recession. They wanted to do something that would draw attention to it, and raise money for it.
Their idea was 50/50. They wanted to rope in makers and do-ers to create 50 fundraising projects, within 50 days. (Following Mark Earls ‘light 100 fires’ thinking, it’s more likely that a few of 50 projects will get traction, than if we all concentrated on one project, which might fail.)
They had a few example ideas to illustrate the kind of thing we might like to do. First on this list of bullet points was a Twitter Swear Jar. In brackets at the end of the short description was “still looking for someone to do this idea by the way...”.
I immediately liked the idea of the Swearjar. We’ve got a [track record with swearing at Albion](I immediately liked the idea of the Swearjar. We’ve got a track record with swearing at Albion, and I’m childish enough to think it’s funny, and it seemed like the kind of fun idea that might catch-on. I started to try and build some support amongst our dev team for this voluntary project.
In conversations with Tim it became clear it was an idea they’d had back in October 2010 for a pitch, and they’d been looking for a chance to realise it since. They were busy building the 50/50 platform, so they were really keen for us to develop it.
The project gained some momentum on 23 August when we were running the Marketing Academy digital faculty at Albion. We were hosting 20-odd rising stars of the marketing world and, as part of the day, had promised to run a workshop where they would scope and paper-prototype a new web service. The Swearjar seemed like the perfect brief for this – fun, for a good cause, not too complicated – and they all really engaged with it and did some great thinking.
On 24th August a crack team of Albionites hunkered down, did a definitive set of wireframes, and committed ourselves to building it.
On 30th August Stu Eccles of Made by Many gave us some Ruby code he written previously for parsing the Twitter stream, which kicked our coding effort into life.
We spent the next 4 weeks designing and coding the site, in between client work and in our spare time.
On 29 August we started testing the almost-finished Swearjar app with a wider group inside Albion.
Then a surprising thing happened.
What. A. Fucking. Nightmare.
Anyway, after some teeth gnashing and soul searching, and some diplomacy from 50/50, we’ve decided to launch our Swearjar anyway - and Charity Swearbox will also come onto the 50/50 platform.
So now 50/50 has two Twitter swearing apps. We’re going head to head. May the best Twitter swearing app win. There’s nothing wrong with healthy competition in the charity sector. Hopefully both together will raise more money that either would have alone.