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First, we looked into ordering 600 stress balls with our logo on the side. They’d be orange, obviously. Shipping costs were crazy. Plus, most people already have at least a few stress balls on their desk.

Pens? Same issues. Orange playdoh in individual tubs? Cool idea, hard to find 600 tubs of orange playdoh though. I tried.

As the Web Partner and a Gold Level sponsor for the 2017 Canterbury Tech Summit, we’d been asked to contribute some swag for the bags given to each of the 600 conference attendees when they arrived. We went through at least a dozen great ideas, trying to consider what we would like to receive in a Summit swag bag.

But, the issue we kept coming back to, was the goal. What was the goal here? Obviously we are keen to get our name out there in our industry and wider community. Media Suite does some really cool stuff, and hires really cool people and of course we want to talk about it.

The problem, was the cost. Not the financial cost, but the environmental cost and whether or not the swag was really achieving much. In the end, we decided we didn’t really want to contribute 600 items that might never see the light of day, or would sit on someone’s desk next to all the other stress balls.

So, we threw out a challenge to the wider team. How could we make our bag contribution meaningful?

This is where the power of the hive really kicks in. In half an hour on Slack, we had gone from branded pens to charitable donations. Our team was really keen to give back to some great causes. They wanted to redirect the money we would’ve spent on the pens or stress balls, and see it going to do some good.

Brilliant. But how? Anyone can give some money to charity. That bit’s pretty simple to get your head around. What we really wanted, was to give Summit attendees some skin in the game. We wanted to give people the chance to be a part of the donation process, and decide where our donations went.

Back to Slack. How could we do this? We love Z petrol station’s voting system. Every time you fill up, you get a plastic chip and you use that chip to vote for your favourite charity. It allows Z’s customers to decide which are the worthiest of causes in their community.

Could we one-up this idea? Take it to the next level? We took the voting system, and asked our team to get creative. If you were at Tech Summit, how would you want to vote?

Suggestions included empty jars, and attendees voted with a scoop of sand. Cool idea, but terribly messy and quite hard to package into a swag bag. We went through some fantastic voting chip ideas: lollies, poker chips, water, ball bearings, marbles… the list goes on.

In the end, it was one of our remote developers from Cambridge who had the winning concept. Lego.

Everyone loves Lego, right? At Media Suite, it’s all about “building the right thing”, so we liked Lego as a building tool. It comes in orange, it’s readily available, and it’s fun.

We picked three charities that do some good in the Christchurch community. Thanks to some suggestions from Canterbury Tech (summit organisers) we managed to narrow it down to three: YMCA Christchurch, Code Club Aotearoa, and Action Station. You can read more about them on their websites, or swing by our Summit booth and get the low down.

In the end, this little project ended up being a true Media Suite special, demonstrating the power of collaboration and bouncing ideas off each other to come to the best possible solution.

So, what’s the end game here?

When you walk through the doors of Tech Summit, and you receive your bag of swag, do take a moment to dig around. In there, you’ll find a little brown recycled paper bag with our logo on it. Inside the bag, is a Lego brick (in orange, of course). This brick represents a $10 donation. All you have to do, is make it count.

Visit our booth (number 5) and cast your vote. Each of our charities have a spot on the table, and each will have one Lego base plate in front of their logo. Over the course of the day, everyone who casts a vote, will do so by adding their Lego brick to the pile in front of the charity they love the most.

By the end of the day, we’re hoping some pretty cool orange Lego sculptures will rise off that table, made by all the creative, passionate folk at the Summit chipping in one brick at a time. We’re actually looking forward to seeing how these group sculptures turn out! When the Summit’s over, we will count the number of bricks in each pile, and multiply that number by $10. A donation will be made to each charity, to the value of the votes it received.

YMCA got 200 bricks? That’s a $2000 donation. With 600 swag bags in the mix, we have $6000 to give. We are hoping we will be able to give it all. This means every Summit attendee needs to add their Lego to the sculpture and make their voice heard.

So, if you’re at the Summit on Thursday, find your brick and have your say, and encourage your fellow Summit-goers to do the same. This is the only way this thing is going to have maximum impact.

In the end, it’s all up to you.


Xx The Media Suite team.

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