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A Day in the Life of... Michele Filippi, PR & Marketing Consultant at MF Communications

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 10 January 2018
Updated: Tuesday 9 January 2018

Michele Filippi

The Marketing Institute: What does an Independent PR and Marketing Practitioner do? 

Michele Filippi: I became an Independent PR & Marketing Consultant in 2003. I had just returned to Belfast after several years working in Dublin, first as an Account Director for a PR Agency specialising in corporate and agri-business and then in-house as Group Communications Manager for UDV Ireland Group, (now part of Diageo Ireland.)

The perspective gained on both sides of the agency table gave me the impetus to set up MF Communication. I wanted to offer a different service experience for clients, an experience that would be based on a consistent, close working relationship with a senior, professional adviser but with access to a seamless network of additional and complementary experts as and when required.

Working in-agency gave me a breadth of industry knowledge across a diverse range of business sectors. The in-house experience with a world-leading global plc, renowned for its world-class brand marketing, was invaluable in growing my knowledge and expertise in marketing communications.

Armed with this specialist knowledge and great contacts especially in the B2B, agri-food and professional services sectors, I leverage these in what I do for clients. Today I am helping global brands and plc’s, as well as not-for-profits and local businesses on various PR and marketing strategies and programmes, from corporate social responsibility and sponsorships to brand reputation management, media relations and stakeholder engagement. I offer access to a network of specialist associates on an all-island and pan-UK basis; collaborating across borders and across-disciplines on my client’s behalf. I help them tackle the challenges and opportunities of communicating with key audiences in today’s complex media environment.

MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role? 

M.F: After graduating from Queen’s University with an Honours Degree in English Literature and Italian, I knew I wanted to work in a business environment where I could use my flair for writing. Public Relations and Marketing offered that creative outlet. I gained a post-graduate Certificate in PR, Advertising and Marketing and became a trainee with my first employer in the growing NI PR industry. As I climbed the career ladder I obtained the Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma and progressed to Account Director with an international PR agency.

The move to Dublin was extremely valuable in developing a wider network of contacts and the chance to work with larger organisations and across markets. Moving in house and joining UDV was a fantastic experience. My role encompassed internal communications within the context of the business organisational change and HR strategy and external communications as well as global PR strategy for the Baileys brand.

The relocation to Belfast for family reasons was the nudge I needed to leave the corporate world and go out on my own.


MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role? 

M.F: Working for yourself can be challenging in so many ways. You have to multi-task and be multi-skilled. The communications industry has changed vastly over the past decade. You need to be constantly on your toes, proactively keeping your professional skills and competency up to date for the clients you are advising. At the same time, you must know how to run a business and develop it for the longer term. Tapping into a good professional network means we can lift the phone and meet for a coffee to bounce ideas around and work through solutions for clients. The service sector has had its up’s and down’s, so you must learn to withstand peaks and troughs and manage demand with capacity. I run a lean, agile and flexible business so it is easier to adapt.

MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role? 

M.F: Without stating the obvious, communication skills; strategic thinking; creativity grounded in sound marketing insight; a thick skin; self-reliance and finally discipline and drive. There’s no sick pay, annual leave or a steady pay cheque at the end of the month. It’s all down to me. But that’s what makes it so rewarding.

MII: Describe a typical working day. 

M.F: Unless there is something urgent I have to do for a client, first thing, I will catch up on news, media coverage and the issues and topics I am monitoring. I’ll progress client projects during the course of the day. This might include meetings with clients or suppliers, attending events or photo-calls, writing and organising future activities; liaising on the phone. I also have to try and schedule time for my own PR and marketing otherwise it’s a case of the cobbler’s children going barefoot. I’ve been working on a new website and I enjoy writing stories for the blog. I’m also Secretary of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists so I am involved in co-ordinating events for members as well as attending them. We get to visit some great agri-food companies such as Mash Direct and the All-Ireland AGM was held at Aldi’s distribution headquarters outside Dublin. One of the perks of being self-employed means I can see my sons when they finish school – even if it’s for 5 minutes to put the kettle on before I go back to the office.

MII: What do you love most about your role? 

M.F: I love the variety that a consultancy role provides. I get great satisfaction from seeing a job come to fruition for a client and producing the results we set out to achieve. I am very fortunate to be doing something for a living that I love. I have managed to overcome a lot of my insecurity about being self-employed. I have learned to embrace the flexibility and scope it gives me for self-fulfilment.

MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next? 

M.F: I am enjoying what I am doing so I will be continuing to develop and evolve MF Communication. Maintaining my Accredited Practitioner status with the CIPR helps me keep my skills, expertise and professional practice up to date and relevant. I am always on the look-out for strategic alliances and the opportunity to collaborate with the right kind of people who can complement what I do for the benefit of clients. I am also always interested to hear from new clients who are looking for a fresh approach to their PR & marketing.

MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role? 

M.F: Firstly, I have been inspired by the female business owners that I worked for early on in my career. They were talented, creative women who had the courage to set up their own businesses and helped me progress. My husband is a great mentor. As a senior HR professional, he’s had lots of practice at listening and coaching. He helps me work through problems and reach decisions. But perhaps most of all clients inspire me. They set the challenges, they provide the opportunities and when you are fortunate enough to work with clients who give you the freedom to achieve within agreed parameters, you really can flourish in your role.


To get in touch with Michele visit or email


If you are a Member of the Institute and would like to be featured in the Day in the Life series, please email Gaelle at

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Are You A Social Media Rule Breaker?

Posted By Martin Thomas, Social Business Consultant, Tuesday 9 January 2018

social media regulations

by Martin Thomas, author of the forthcoming Financial Times Guide to Social Media Strategy, published by Pearson Education, late summer 2018

Martin Thomas will be discussing this topic in more detail during a Social Media Marketing Masterclass in Dublin on 1st February 2018.

Are you and your teams aware of the regulations governing the use of social media as a marketing communications tool? Could you be forced to scrap your next social media campaign or find yourself in trouble with the regulators?  According to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), more than half of marketers have little or no understanding of the regulations affecting social media marketing.

The CIM was so concerned by the illiteracy of marketers when it comes to social media regulations that it launched a ‘Keep social honest’ campaign to promote the transparent and honest use of social media. Its chief executive Chris Daly says: ‘Businesses face a serious risk of regulatory or legal action, but they also need to understand that the penalties for misleading customers on social media go beyond that.  Brands are putting their reputation at risk too.’   I would add that marketers are also putting their own reputations at risk.

There are three primary areas of regulatory risk that marketers need to be aware of when it comes to social media marketing:

1. Breaching advertising codes or regulations.

A social media post or tweet is considered as advertising by most regulators.  This is particularly important in highly regulated sectors such as alcohol, healthcare or financial services, where there are strict rules governing all forms of customer communication.   Diageo was recently forced to suspend its use of SnapChat for a global Captain Morgan campaign following a decision by UK regulators that it was likely to appeal to under-age consumers.  This highlights the risks of working with social media channels that rely on the self-verification of users’ ages.  Although Diageo’s lawyers argued that the creative work was targeted at over 18s, the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK was less convinced by the integrity of Snapchat’s age controls.  It also suggested that the creative concept, which involved the creation of a Snapchat lens to make the user’s face appear like a pirate, was likely to appeal to under 18s.

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland has issued Digital Media Best Practice Principles to provide guidelines on the placement of advertising in ‘the digital media space’.   Similarly, the Central Bank of Ireland regulates advertising for financial services and products, including the use of social media.  It would be interesting to know when Irish marketers working in these sectors last read the regulations.

The burden of regulatory compliance is further complicated by employees’ use of social media.  The codes governing appropriate communication apply as much to posts or tweets issued by employees as they do to the official corporate channels: for example, an Instagram post issued by a drinks company employee - showing consumers clearly in an intoxicated state whilst enjoying one of their brands - is actually in breach of drinks industry advertising regulations.  The same constraints apply to employees of financial services or healthcare businesses.

And don’t think they can hide behind the disclaimer that ‘these views are mine and not those of my employer’. Forbes Magazine, in an article appropriately entitled Why Twitter Disclaimers Like 'Views Are My Own' Won't Save Your Job quoted the opinions of various legal experts who confirmed that a disclaimer, irrespective of the wording, has no legal effect and would not enable employees to avoid legal liabilities.  In the words of one of the lawyers quoted in the article, Dan Schaeffer from law firm Neal & McDevitt: ‘It’s not going to prevent your employer from firing you if you say something that reflects badly, and it’s not going to prevent people from associating your views with your employer.’  

2. Failing to disclose the payment of influencers.

The use of influencers or brand ambassadors has become a core element of most brands’ use of social media, but it risks blurring the boundaries between advertising and editorial.  The view of the regulators is unequivocal – any paid-for endorsement must be clearly identified.  The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (The ASAI) introduced new guidance on the ‘Recognisability of Marketing Communications’ in January of last year, to ensure that ‘Irish consumers are not misled by influencer marketing through online advertisements on blogs and social media websites.’  The ASAI reinforced the requirement to make it clear where an endorsement is paid-for and also recommend the use of clearly identifiable hashtags such as #Ad or #SP.  Bloggers and online influencers are already required to adhere to The ASAI’s Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland.

Regulators have been slow to respond to breaches of the regulations, but there are signs that this is beginning to change.  One of the world’s leading brand owners, Procter & Gamble, was forced to remove a make-up tutorial that appeared on its Beauty Recommended YouTube channel.  Despite a clear message at the beginning of the video stating that the content was sponsored, the ASA ruled that it was in breach of one of its CAP Codes because it was ‘not obviously identifiable as marketing communications’. 

3. Misusing personal data 

Data privacy is a serious issue in many countries, which is why governments are increasingly legislating against what they consider to be the misuse of individual consumer data.  EU legislators have threatened large fines for any organisations guilty of misusing personal data and this includes data sourced from social media.  It is acceptable for researchers and marketers to look at individual tweets or posts that appear as part of a Google search, but as soon as they use them for research purposes they need to be aware of the sensitivities of using private data.  Jeremy Hollow, founder of Listen & Learn Research, a specialist social data analyst explained to me how his analysts are careful to abide by the market research codes and ethics: ‘We will look at publically available social data but we always make sure that comments or other forms of content are not attributable to a specific individual, which means we either aggregate the data with that of other individuals or change the details so that the specific individual is not recognisable’.

It pays to be cautious when using personal data – even featuring someone’s tweet or post in a public forum is effectively a breach.  Marketers should also ensure that everyone likely to use social media data is fully aware of the relevant regulations governing permissions and ‘opt-ins’.

Marketers and their teams are failing consistently to comply with industry regulations or codes of practice when it comes to social media.  In the eyes of the regulators and the general public, ignorance is no excuse.  And if something goes wrong – a social media campaign violates advertising codes, the payment of an influencer is not disclosed or a customer’s personal data is misused – it will be the marketer that is in the firing line.  

These are my suggestions for how you can avoid getting on the wrong side of the regulators:

1. Make sure you and your teams understand the relevant regulations and codes governing your industry sector;
2. Stay close to the regulators, as the rules governing social media are in an almost constant state of flux;
3. Establish the appropriate systems, compliance processes, policies and training to ensure that your team and your agency partners abide by the rules;
4. Avoid pushing the boundaries, especially when it comes to the identification of paid-for activity – honesty and transparency should be non-negotiable. 
5. Stay vigilant – social media has a nasty habit of producing unexpected or unforeseeable challenges for marketers.

Martin Thomas will be discussing this topic in more detail during a Social Media Marketing Masterclass in Dublin on 1st February 2018.
We have created our Masterclass series for senior-level marketers looking to take a deep-dive into a specialised topic, to enable them to make insightful decisions and better choices for their business. The series is focused on helping you develop competencies specific to the knowledge, skills and mindset required of senior marketing leaders. We will host a Masterclass with Martin Thomas on Thursday 1st of February. More information on this Masterclass can be found here. 



martin thomasMartin is a highly experienced marketing communications consultant, trainer and author. He is course leader on digital and social media for the Institute of Directors UK. He has enjoyed a highly successful career in advertising, PR, sponsorship and new media, including senior management roles with some of the world’s leading agencies.

He has advised many multi-national corporations on their marketing and communications strategies, including Xerox, Citibank, Bacardi Global Brands, Sony Ericsson, Royal Mail, Coca-Cola and Colgate-Palmolive. Much of his work in recent years has focused on the business response to new, digitally-empowered patterns of customer behaviour and changing expectations: a subject on which he has become a highly-regarded writer, speaker and commentator.

Tags:  social media 

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The importance of 'borrowed' media

Posted By Martin Thomas, Wednesday 20 December 2017

We have become familiar with the concept of 'owned', 'earned' and 'paid-for' media, but the social media that provides the greatest value for organisations and brands is 'borrowed'. These are the social media accounts of the senior management team, other company spokespeople and anyone else in the organisation using social media in a professional capacity. I describe these as ‘borrowed’ because they are not owned by the organisation and unlike 'earned' media, they can be relatively easy to harness on behalf of the organisation with the right mix of persuasion, training and support.

The overall reputation of an organisation is shaped more by this 'borrowed' media than it is by its corporate channels. This is partly about reach - the cumulative follower numbers that can be potentially reached through 'borrowed' channels are invariably much higher than those of the official corporate channels - but also about impact: we are far more likely to engage with social media content shared by a person than by a faceless organisation. According to research undertaken by LinkedIn, employee networks on the platform are ten times larger than those of official corporate channels and when employees share content on LinkedIn the engagement rate is twice as high as when the company shares the same content.

An employer’s ability to leverage its 'borrowed' media by mobilising its employees and harnessing the collective reach of their personal social media networks is therefore one of the easiest and fastest ways for any organisation to increase its profile and enhance its reputation with customers, clients, prospects, potential employees and other stakeholders.

No one should be forced to use their personal social media accounts as a mouthpiece for their employer, but they can usually be persuaded that the support they can provide through something as simple as liking, sharing or retweeting the occasional corporate post or tweet, can be incredibly useful.


We have created our Masterclass series for senior-level marketers looking to take a deep-dive into a specialised topic, to enable them to make insightful decisions and better choices for their business. The series is focused on helping you develop competencies specific to the knowledge, skills and mindset required of senior marketing leaders. We will host a Masterclass with Martin Thomas on Thursday 1st of February. More information on this Masterclass can be found here. 


Martin is a highly experienced marketing communications consultant, trainer and author. He is course leader on digital and social media for the Institute of Directors UK. He has enjoyed a highly successful career in advertising, PR, sponsorship and new media, including senior management roles with some of the world’s leading agencies.

He has advised many multi-national corporations on their marketing and communications strategies, including Xerox, Citibank, Bacardi Global Brands, Sony Ericsson, Royal Mail, Coca-Cola and Colgate-Palmolive. Much of his work in recent years has focused on the business response to new, digitally-empowered patterns of customer behaviour and changing expectations: a subject on which he has become a highly-regarded writer, speaker and commentator.

If you want to learn more about the best way to harness 'borrowed' media, drop Martin a line at


Tags:  Social Media 

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Mintel Announces The Global Food And Drink Trends For 2018

Posted By Jenny Zegler, Mintel, Wednesday 13 December 2017
Updated: Friday 8 December 2017

Mintel food and drink  trends 2018

In 2018, expect to see transparency and traceability for all, regardless of income. From ingredient scares to political bombshells, self-care has become a priority for many and one that includes choosing food and drink that will address perceived nutritional, physical and emotional needs. Further, opportunities will be plentiful for natural, tantalising and unexpected textures, like chewy beverages for instance. 

Meanwhile, retailer and manufacturer access to personal data has opened up the doors for them to personalise offers and promotions. This ties up with the growth in online and mobile shopping, and even voice activated search that fuels consumer expectations of their desires being catered to and satisfied almost effortlessly. 

Looking ahead to 2018, Mintel has identified the major trends predicted to play out in the global food and drink market, beginning with the trends that will gain wider traction in the months ahead to emerging trends that are influential, but just on the fringe in many regions. Below, we’ve showcased three of these trends which we can predict will work their way across the Island of Ireland in the year ahead: Full Disclosure; New Sensations; and Preferential Treatment.

Full disclosure
“In our new post-truth reality, consumers require complete and total transparency from food and drink companies.”

A sizeable number of consumers around the world lack trust in regulatory systems, manufacturers, and even their fellow humans. This compounds a pre-existing wariness about food and drink because of product recalls, scandals, and suspicion about large companies. The need for reassurance about the safety and trustworthiness of food and drink has led to an increased use of natural as well as ethical and environmental claims in global food and drink launches. 

According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), natural product claims appeared on 29% of global food and drink launches from September 2016 to August 2017, up from 17% of global food and drink launches that used natural claims between September 2006 and August 2007. Similarly, ethical and environmental claims such as environmentally friendly packaging as well as animal and human welfare claims have risen to 22% of global food and drink introductions between September 2016 and August 2017. This is up from just 1% in the same period from 2006 to 2007.

As shown by the growth in natural, ethical, and environmental claims, widespread distrust has increased the need for food and drink manufacturers to be forthcoming about their ingredients, production processes, and supply chains. This places pressure on manufacturers to offer thorough and honest disclosures about their products. Food and drink transparency can take many different directions but the various claims serve a singular purpose: to help consumers feel more confident about the safety and purity of the food and drink they purchase.

In addition to disclosing more specific transparency details, the next wave of clean label challenges manufacturers and retailers to democratise transparency and traceability so that products are accessible to all consumers regardless of household income. Making transparency attainable to consumers reflects the principles of Mintel’s 2017 Global Food & Drink Trend ‘Balancing the Scales: Health for Everyone’, which noted that healthy food and drink are not to be considered luxuries.


French milk brand C’est qui le patron?! (which translates to “Who’s the boss?!”) surveyed 6,850 consumers online about half a dozen criteria from farm gate price to packaging in order to develop its product.

New Sensations
“Texture is the latest tool to engage the senses and deliver share-worthy experiences.”

Encounters that appeal to multiple senses can provide consumers with escapes from the routine and stress of their lives, opportunities to make memories, or generate ‘like-worthy’ social media posts. Mintel’s 2016 Global Food & Drink Trend ‘Eat With Your Eyes’ observed the potential for food and drink to involve more of the senses through colour, shape, fragrance, and other formulation elements. In 2018, the sound, feel, and satisfaction that texture provides will become more important to companies and consumers alike.

Texture has a particular opportunity to follow the lead of colour, which has become a popular feature in formulations that aim to allure more of the senses. Food and drink products have used a variety of ingredients like turmeric, matcha and activated charcoal to create vibrantly hued drinks, snacks, and other food that attracts attention, especially on Instagram and other image-centric media. Colour will continue to be important, but texture is the next facet of formulation that can be leveraged to provide consumers with interactive—and documentation-worthy—experiences.
From chewy beverages to multi-textured concoctions such as freakshakes, texture can make products more captivating for consumers who continue to seek food and drink that is perceived as fresh, functional, filling, or simply fun. To align with this trend, brands can ensure products contain multiple, contrasting textures, which allow for a complex and engaging consumption experience for consumers. 

Asia is a model for the potential of unexpected applications of texture in food and drink because the region hosts a range of beverages with pulp, tapioca pearls, and extra carbonation along with food that also boasts innovative textures that might be unheard of in other parts of the world. The latest textured beverage to take Asia by storm is cheese tea, a bubble or iced tea drink topped with cream cheese, leaving the drinker with a telltale cream cheese moustache. 

In 2018, more products can be developed with combinations of textures that surprise and delight consumers. As with colour, more companies have the opportunity to add texture via natural ingredients, such as the pulp of fruit or vegetables, the tingle of spicy peppers, or carbonation resulting from fermentation as with kombucha. Production processes also can be utilised to enhance or innovate around texture, such as freeze-drying fruit for snacking or twice-baking salty snacks.

Nabisco Oreo honored US Independence Day celebrations with a limited-edition chocolate Oreo with red and blue popping candy inside the cream.

Preferential Treatment

A new era in personalisation is dawning due to the expansion of online and mobile food shopping. 

Motivated by the potential to save time and ideally money, consumers are sampling a variety of channels and technologies when shopping for food and drink. The latest evolutions in shopping offer consumers prompt and affordable delivery, a curated adventure courtesy of subscription services, ease of automatic replenishment, and simplicity of synchronisation with smart home devices.

Busy consumers are drawn to e-commerce sites, mobile apps, voice control, and other online and mobile options because they are advantageous to their busy schedules and potentially their budgets. As technology helps to make shopping as effortless as possible, an era of targeted promotions and products is emerging. The adoption of voice-enabled smart home accessories, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home, will make it easier to add items to shopping lists. On the supplier end, brands, companies and retailers can leverage technology to establish new levels of efficiency, such as customised recommendations, cross-category pairings, and resourceful solutions that save consumers time, effort, and energy. 

Moving beyond convenience, technology will offer new possibilities for personalised recommendations of products and individually targeted promotions. The personalisation made possible by new technologies could draw in more consumers, and the main benefit for brands is that personalised offers will make the marketing spend more effective.

The rapid expansion in the variety of food and drink retail channels will fuel the opportunity for recommendations, promotions, and product innovations that are based on actual consumer behaviour patterns. While this offers opportunity, it also could compromise brand discovery and endanger brand loyalty because custom offers might prioritise benefits, such as convenience, value or time, over brand. 

Finally, companies also could tempt consumers by creating products, suggesting combinations of goods and other options across consumer categories that align with online and offline behaviours. This new era of plentiful places to shop will pressure all brands to be more relevant, efficient and/or affordable in order to retain customers.

Amazon launched a range of private label products in 2017 under the Happy Belly and Wickedly Prime brands, offering exclusive brands for online grocery shoppers.


Mintel’s 2018 Global Food & Drink Trends are the result of collaboration among 60 of of Mintel’s global expert analysts from around the world. These global conversations have led to key trends that reflect overarching consumer themes including trust, self-care, stress, individuality, and sustainability. To showcase the relevance of the five future-looking trends, our analyst insights have been supported by evidence gathered from Mintel’s proprietary consumer research, innovative developments observed by Mintel’s expert team of trend spotters, and international food and drink products collected in Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD). To download a free copy of the report, please visit:



Jenny Zegler is the dedicated trends analyst on Mintel’s Food & Drink platform, blending Mintel Trends expertise with food and drink specific topics, such as health and wellness, formulation, sustainability and premiumization. In addition to contributing analysis to Mintel Food & Drink, Jenny has been part of the team that creates Mintel’s annual cross-category trends since 2014.

Mintel is the world's leading market intelligence agency. For over 40 years, Mintel's expert analysis of the highest quality data and market research has directly impacted on client success. With offices in London, Chicago, Belfast, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Munich, New York, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto, Mintel has forged a unique reputation as a world-renowned business brand. For more information on Mintel, please visit Follow Mintel on Twitter: or join the Mintel LinkedIn group: For more information about how Mintel can help your business, contact Ciara Rafferty, Director, Mintel Ireland on +44 (0)28 9024 1849 or  

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Javelin on what it is like to be 30 in Ireland today

Posted By Javelin, Tuesday 12 December 2017

Javelin we are 30

Javelin are celebrating turning 30 with the release of “We are 30”. A short documentary on being 30 in Ireland today, shot over 12 hours by award-winning director, Garry Keane.  Joe Dobbin, Javelin MD said “one of the things we set out to do to celebrate our birthday, was to look forward and gain a unique insight into a very singular and important target audience for marketers today – Ireland’s 30 year olds.  Our film participants were born in 1987, a tumultuous year in Ireland, and the world. Things are changing -  things always do, but the latter part of this decade sees the birth of a generation that will grow up through a time of unprecedented change. From boom to bust to boom to the mother of all busts. Now, 30 years on, we’ve heard from 30 young Irish men and women, they grew up with the Web, they can’t imagine not having a computer in their pockets. They have hundreds, sometimes thousands, of ‘friends’. They have been deeply scarred by the Tiger. “We are 30” is an honest film, that we have really enjoyed making, that gives voice to the generation that is now on the cusp of taking over. Who are they? What do they believe in? What do they not believe in? Like the rest of us, they have hopes, and fears. And here they are”. 


Watch the trailer below or the full film here.



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