We caught up with Ollie Olanipekun, co-founder of Flock Together,
as part of our Margaret Meet Series. An avid lover of all things wildlife related,
a wholesome and dynamic innovator and a mobiliser of both the people
and creative collaboration.
We’re honoured to present our network with a completely exclusive
interview covering what’s next on the agenda for Flock Together,
Ollie’s perspective on what makes the organisation revolutionary and his
take on social media being a brilliant tool for community mobilisation.
For anyone that may not be familiar with Flock Together,
how did it come about?
Flock Together was an idea I’d been wanting to release for a long time,
as I’ve spent my career working to empower communities and individuals.
With Flock, I managed to find a way to share a personal passion for bird
watching with my extended community. Then in 2020, after meeting another
bird enthusiast – Nadeem, I knew it was the right time to bring the idea to life.
We’ve since grown from a birding community to a global nature movement.
In a world of so many distractions, phones and devices,
what do you do to have a break from social media other
than being outdoors?
I’m a big fan of the arts, whether that’s film, theatre or exhibitions.
My brain needs a lot of stimulation so I try to regularly find
experiences that will inspire me.
And is part of your mission to target those who are so
consumed by technology and therefore distant from nature?
And if so, how do you reach them and do this?
I don’t subscribe to the narrative that “technology is bad”,
I’m a big believer in working with the tools we’re affordedbut being
conscious with our usage. Flock wouldn’t exist without Instagram,
it’s been essential in showcasing our community and reaching new audiences.
Technology can be used to bring us closer to nature if it’s done in the right way.
What do you think it is about Flock Together that
feels so new, exciting and revolutionary to other
brands and your audience?
It’s organic and authentic. These are buzzwords for the industry,
but I can’t operate without truly being authentic in my approach.
I’ve spent my career helping global brands reach new consumers, and it’s
always been a frustration that the work is always temporary.
To truly engage with an audience there needs to be a long-term commitment,
and the brand cannot see it as a seasonal or campaign-only relationship.
Once you’re truly seen to be authentic then your audience will grow
naturally and stay committed to your cause. Brands have lost
their way so much that seeing Flock’s approach seems revolutionary,
but in reality, it’s very simple.
Are there any elements of the Flock Together experience
that you try to bring back to your everyday life in the city?
Or that you’d encourage others to?
Being present. As I mentioned earlier, I have a very overactive mind
because of my ADHD. Even though I’ve been able to turn this into my superpower,
I still rely on nature to force myself to be still and present. When you’re
present your brain is free to gain perspective, be inspired and
explore without distraction.
We have seen more and more brands work focusing on
naturalistic elements and the environment through their campaigns.
What recent campaigns have really inspired you and why?
If I’m honest, I haven’t seen anything inspiring from brands,
the majority of it feels quite traditional when framing nature. And it was
the traditional approach that left a lot of us feeling excluded.
I’m looking for brands that want to break the mould and do something radical.
As Flock Together grows, what are some things that are really
important in choosing who you work with?
We need to see partners who are committed for the right reasons and not
afraid to take risks. For the work we do to have an impact, we need a completely
new approach. I love brands that are not afraid of being uncomfortable.
As Flock grows, we continue to unpack the reasons why so many people felt like
nature wasn’t for them, only by addressing these issues can we find solutions.
What’s next for you and Flock Together? Where might you
like to be in 5 years’ time?
I’m really focused on designing new access points to introduce new
people to nature. By access points I mean creativity, this can show up
in many different ways, from initiatives, events, or even products.
We have a few in the pipeline which I can’t talk about just yet,
but one I’m very excited about is something close to my heart.
FlagFinders is a nationwide program offering under-supported
young children the chance to connect with nature through innovative ways.
My experience with the Cub Scouts wasn’t great as a 10-year-old, so I’ve
always been keen to offer something new and exciting. We have really big
ambitions for FlagFinders. Another one just launched is less of a product
and more of a philosophy, New Nature is an open invitation for us all to
understand the new ways in which we can connect with
nature on a personal level.
Through these initiatives, we’re using creativity for problem-solving
because what I’ve learned over my career is that we need different messages
to reach different people.
None of these initiatives, though, would be possible without the incredible
work of my team at my creative agency Futurimpose.
Are any other organisations or people working in this area
that we should check out? Or that you’d love to collaborate with?
All of the grassroots organisations who are just doing it for themselves in creative ways.