11th August 2015
Please welcome our guest blogger Daniel Sauva, Head of Creative and Buzz at Transferwise. The following is Daniel’s take on our Nothing2Hide stunt, executed by House of Experience in June 2014.
“But I’m not wearing any underwear” she said. It was an odd moment. It was 5.30am. I’d been to sleep. And I was at work.
A guy in the corner was getting his chest shaved. A woman audibly winced as a TransferWise tattoo was applied to her crimson sunburn. ‘Push-ups guy’ was hard at work. These people weren’t shy. There were 100 of them.
I was hungry and my bacon sandwich was unmanageably dry. I’d forgotten to ask for HP sauce. But there was no turning back. The scene before me was my doing.
Three weeks earlier I’d pitched the idea to one of our founders, Taavet,in record time. I mumbled something about transparency – he nodded. Then something about a protest – his shoulders raised momentarily as if to say “meh, sure”.
Then I uttered the words that would change the course of TransferWise folklore forever – “they’ll be naked”.
His eyes lit up so quickly I feared his eyebrows might catch fire. I mentioned the cost. Unimportant. He was unequivocally in.
Somewhere amongst the excitement and threat of singed hair, I’d misplaced the fact he would also be disrobing. In Central London. With Kristo, his co-founder.
Fast forward to Friday 13 June 2014. The almighty beard had recently invested. The other beard was smiling down on us. It was the hottest day of the year.
Birdsong filled the air. “Perhaps a Magpie” I mused. A blood orange hue crept above the cityscape, whisking away the clouds, along with their melancholy. A cab driver belched loudly and told me to “f*ck off”. It was time:
“Stay close together. Not too close. Follow me. We’re going to the Bank of England. Clothes on for now.”
The young lady who had originally misinterpreted the brief was now with underwear. She’d borrowed underwear. From another participant. Who’d brought spares. Which I still have difficulty processing.
Taavet and Kristo were waiting outside the Royal Exchange. Right next to the old Bank of England. An iconic spot that pinpoints London’s financial centre. They’d been convinced by Donata that this was a good idea. Donata was our PR girl. She didn’t like that title. She attacked me once with a slice of cheesecake for calling her so. I digress.
Taavet and Kristo stripped to their boxers. They embraced on the steps of the Royal Exchange. I have no words. 100 protesters followed suit. The noise was deafening. A roar of semi-naked rebellion.
We marched through the streets with purpose. Bystanders stopped in their tracks. Scenes of joyful abandon permeated the mundanity of their early-morning commute. Camera phones pointed skyward like an urban salute. A sea of skin and cheers pushed through the rush hour crowds. Our statement was loud and clear. We are TransferWise. We are here to stay. We have nothing to hide.
The first policeman was a bit of a dick. The second less so. Also less portly. I pondered the possibility of a correlation, then dismissed.
“Of course officer. Not a problem. Everyone listen up. Clothes back on. Follow me.”
Shut down. Disbanded. Demobilised. Cut down in our prime.
Hell no. Splinter group.
“You guys. Come with me. This way.”
Casual whistle, duck, dive, strip, Underground. We’re back.
Pockets of liberated protesters carried on way into the night. Sightings came in from across London. Twitter went mental. The press lapped it up. It felt like we’d achieved something.
If nothing else, we proved that we have balls. We’re a financial services company. Sounds boring. We’re not. We have a clear vision. We have a clear mission. We have a unique personality. We’re willing to take risks and we pride ourselves in being different. It’s a fight for transparency. And, naked or not, we’re winning.
When I returned to the office, the lingering sense of of elation was palpable. This was especially evident in Kristo’s take on the day’s proceedings. Refusing to let go of his excitement, he sat there, at his desk, beaming smile, casual slouch, naked as the day is long.
It’s hard to remove such an image from your memory. No matter how hard you scrub your retinas.