In January 2005, the government of the Isle of Man, a tiny island in the middle of the Irish Sea (between Ireland and the UK mainland), appointed nation branding agency Acanchi to raise the island’s profile by developing a country brand.
A long list of possible consulting companies were drawn up and the opportunity was advertised locally. Three country branding specialist consultancies, all UK-based, pitched for the work: Placebrands (Simon Anholt), Corporate Edge (Creenagh Lodge) and Saffron (Wally Olins). A fourth consultancy, Acanchi, leaded by Fiona Gilmore, was added to the tender ‘to add competition’ to the three prefered agencies. As it came out, it was Acanchi who eventually won the tender.
Chief Minister Donald Gelling, who chaired the country branding project’s steering committe, said Acanchi promised to provide excellence results. He said: ‘I am confident that this branding initiative will benefit all Islanders. Acanchi was appointed after careful consideration of other consulting companies. The government-led steering committee considered them to be the most innovative, creative and motivated company. I am glad that there was strong consensus from the committee and I look forward to working with Acanchi.’
Some days later, a member of the steering committe explained in a local paper how the process worked, and how Acanchi finally won the tender. Not that he reveals anything special in it, but it’s always interesting to know it from an insider – here it’s in his own words: