Orion EMEA Bonds While Discovering Possibilities for Make-A-Wish

As part of Orion EMEA’s Community goals in 2021, Howard Norton (Orion EMEA Managing Director) wanted to find a way to bring teams from across the region together at a difficult time, while also helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Helena Ferreira (head of Orion Portugal) took ownership of this goal and presented back an idea to work with Make-A-Wish, a charitable organization that helps fulfill wishes from critically ill children. Granting a wish is not a fleeting gift – it’s a carefully planned journey that is designed to complement a child’s medical treatment and give them the hope, strength and joy needed during their illness. 

The initial idea was presented back in the summer. Helena and Charlie Riggall (Orion U.K., Growth Director) were then tasked with coordinating the huge amount of logistical and organisational work involved with this charitable effort. In November, the entire team from Orion EMEA, plus our legal & finance colleagues, were dialling onto what would turn out to be a life-changing Zoom call.   

The morning started out with our Uncover phase with the Make-A-Wish team introducing us to the wishes we would help grant for two incredible children.  

In the Discover phase of the workshop, we split into smaller groups to divide up the work and maximise the number of ideas. We had the time to ask the charity more about the children and their illnesses, while floating early ideas to gauge what’s possible and what’s not. The workshop also provided quality time for colleagues across the region to connect who may not regularly work together in their day-to-day roles.   

We were then asked to Deliver two key stages of the wish journey:  

The Anticipation phase covers the days, weeks, and months between being told a wish is being granted and the day the wish comes true. We want the children to remain positive during this period, so we needed to think of ways to keep them engaged with their carefully curated wish. 

The Realisation stage is the actual wish day. Teams need to consider their illness, side effects (e.g. fatigue), the need for medical staff, where they would eat, where they can stay … all in a world where Covid offers no guarantee of safety. 

We believe Orionites are the best problem solvers in the business. Listening to the teams present their ideas back to Make-A-Wish was brilliant to see the teams’ skills used in new ways to overcome challenges that they aren’t used to handling. We think the timing before the holidays also really brought out the inner child in a lot of people after another tough year. 

And that was it for 2021… or so we thought. We had been told to expect a period of two to six months until the wishes were granted. However, only three days later we had Make-A-Wish on the phone telling us a wish was being granted the following week. This was only nine days after brainstorming ideas and now we needed to bring our ideas to life! As with everything we do, the support from each other and from our partners at the Mediabrands’ agencies, clients and media owners proved invaluable. We were able to help facilitate a wish for a great girl in the U.K. that included: 

  • Rapport and JCDecaux donating a billboard to wish a Merry Wish-mass. 
  • MediaHub and Little Moons organising for an ice cream tasting in Selfridges. 
  • Initiative and Lego having greeters at London’s Lego Store. 
  • UM and M&M’s World having a gift sent home. 
  • Emily Watson and Seven Jarrett, from Orion UK, went to gift-wrap presents in secret whilst shopping happened at the Disney Store. 

We’re expecting to grant the second wish in Q1 2022, so watch this space for updates!