Taking a quick trip down memory lane, the name ‘the projects*’ was conceived 14 years ago when the company was launched in Sydney, Australia, as a very literal interpretation of what the business did: project-based work. It was a special-ops approach; all about events, launches, campaigns and activations. We were in and out, onto the next.
As our business grew, opening offices in London, Los Angeles and New York, the name was seen as a double-entendre and it was assumed it was a deliberate, tongue-in-cheek one at that. As uncomfortable as that was at times, we still kept it because, even though we understood the power of language to shape and transform our world, we had yet to fully grasp how much our name mattered.
More recently, it became clear that this wasn’t just a literal name with an unintended double-entendre. It was an appropriation of cultural identity and social class; an appropriation that wasn’t aligned with our deeply held values of diversity, inclusion, racial equality and social justice. Even though it was never our intention, intention and impact are not the same things.
We were powerfully moved in 2020 by the peaceful BLM-inspired social justice marches that both grieved the police brutality that claimed the lives of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and also asked that the world wholeheartedly denounce the systemic racism that deeply affects Black, African American, and BIPOC cultures in the U.S. and abroad.
While the decision to move on the name change wasn’t a direct response to the BLM movement, it was one of several monumental shifts in the way we live our values, which spoke to the need to address many of the unresolved and unspoken issues of this cultural chapter. We had to level up.
As an agency that’s fundamentally powered by culture, it’s an acknowledgment of the gulf between what our name has been and who we really are. And with that came the realization that we’re not just an agency, advising clients on how to connect with culture; we ourselves are active participants within culture. Our work exists in the cultural arena and contributes to the conversation. We’re not standing on the sidelines witnessing it; we’re in the arena.