Skimming through today’s papers, I stumbled upon an advert which caught my eye. The ad in question highlighted M&S‘ ‘back to school’ uniforms and it grabbed my attention not because I needed a school uniform or because I hadn’t bought my children’s yet, mainly because I don’t have any little sprogs, but because the kid model featured struck a similarity to one of the UK’s most idolised celebs.
Guessed who yet?
Maybe this will help?
Now it might be pure coincidence that this particular model resembles Miss Cole. On the other hand, perhaps she’s been purposely picked and styled to mimic the highly successful brand that is Cheryl Cole…because lets face it, which parent wouldn’t want their daughter growing up to be Britain’s next national icon?
If that being the case, it just goes to show the influence that today’s celeb has on society…commercialisation at its pinnacle. And let’s be blunt, we all know the sales pulling power that comes with Cheryl…whether that be a consumer PR campaign, sponsorship promotion or public appearance…or even a child look-a-like in this occasion.
If my M&S Cheryl Cole conspiracy theory is right, then I’m sure Sir Stuart Rose is currently patting his team on their backs. If completely wrong and you’re reading this thinking I’m drunk, have too much time on my hands and talking shit…well M&S still get a pat on the back because firstly I’m talking about it and secondly, you’re already considering buying your daughter an M&S uniform with matching Daniel Craig little brother PE kit.
Red flags draped from the front of Manchester Town Hall. Tanks patrolling up Deansgate. HMP Strangeways under the control of Spetznaz special forces.
It could have happened.
A startling map showing Soviet plans to invade Manchester have been revealed for the first time this week.
The detailed drawing, created just 35 years ago in 1974, shows how Russian tanks would have targeted the city.
It identifies that T-72 tanks could have come up the Mancunian Way and colour coded targets around the city including the nuclear site and prison.
Chris Perkins, University of Manchester geography lecturer and curator of a new exhibition which unveiled the map, said there was not much the Soviet generals missed out.
‘It shows the roads – familiar to many Mancunians – which the Soviets felt were wide enough to carry tanks including Washway Road, the Mancunian Way, and Princess Road.
‘They even transliterated place names – such as Urmston, Salford and Stretford into Russian.
OK – so while it is conceivable that we may now have been going to shop at the Traffordski Centre rather than using the piste at Chill factor E, or parking our cars at the Stretski Arndale, going to see a consultant at Trafford General Hospital in Urmski or viewing that iconic photo of The Smiths posing outside Salfski Lads Club – it all would have come to a grinding halt in Moss Side(ski) wouldn’t it?
While the Soviet Generals didn’t seem to miss out any detail of how they were going to transform the Capital of the North into a new St Petersburg they did actually neglect one crucial detail – the Republic of Mancunia hasn’t rolled over for any invaders since Caesar sent his legions this way a couple of thousand years ago.
Imagine the might of the Soviet Army coming face-to-face with Moss Side’s Pepperhill Gang or, in 1974, those esteemed ‘businessmen’ who went by the title of the Quality Street gang.
Even Spetznaz Special Forces aren’t equipped to deal with those kind of shock troops!
Worse still, they’d have come a serious cropper in the face of the army of shell-suited chavs whose regiments patrol the corridors of the Arndale Centre.
Russian invasion of Manchester – don’t make me laugh – they wouldn’t have made it past the ‘street traders’ on Marketski Street before turning around and speeding back towards Moscow at full tilt!
I know what you’re thinking, she’s talking about the sheer amount of debt students will be in after graduating, actually I’m thinking of the amount of money spent prior to speeding off to halls.
Duvets, woks, coat hangers, laptops, i-pods…..just a few of the so called ‘essentials’ on the top of students’ shopping lists this summer. Well what other way can they personalise their new living space?
Whether in private or University halls, students are increasingly expressing themselves through their domestic purchases, presenting the ideal opportunity for companies everywhere to market their products to appeal to the student masses via consumer PR, etc.
Students provide a huge part of the consumer market now and they are shoppers that are going to be around for a while yet so lets influence their purchasing habits now!
When news arrived that Brazen’s favourite ‘Marmite’ celebrity Victoria Beckham was to guest on American Idol there were ripples of ‘what the f**K’ and ‘is she stupid?’ but I couldn’t help think there was a clever hidden agenda afoot. Although VB initially only confirmed one appearance there was much speculation that she could permanently replace Paula (I’ve danced with a cartoon cat) Abdul following her announcement via Twitter that she was leaving the show.
I sadly have to admit to following the lucrative career of VB since meeting her very briefly when we looked after the Manchester United wives Christmas Party at then Sugar Lounge many moons ago. Never before or since have I been so impressed by a calculated entrance, mingle exit strategy – not a foot out of place – devoid of emotion – absolutely focused! Sadly however I’ve never had a client budget stretch to work with her.
My suspicion seems to have been confirmed with the latest announcement of her £3m deal. The ‘one off’ stunt merely a clever way to test public opinion? Add to that the leaked (AS IF!) news via radio interview that Simon Cowell turned down the opportunity to sign the Spice Girls saying they had no future – I smell a cleverly interesting ‘feudal’ back-story being created by programme bosses to inject some heat into the on-screen Beckham/ Cowell relationship!
Whatever happens, its win win for VB. The fashion pages cant get enough of her new line that she just so happened to be wearing at the Colorado judging. I suspect we’ll be seeing many more VB creations throughout American Idol – clever cross selling Victoria! “Fear not ladies, you too can get your hands on her style” writes Dianne Bourne from the Manchester Evening News. That VB dress is on sale at Manchester’s Selfridges Store, a mere snip at £1600.
For someone renowned for her glum pout I bet she’s peeing her Armani pants on the inside… All the way to the bank!
Well ‘events’ these days are more than just organising an awards ceremony or doing some on-street sampling. Which are still really important and play their parts I have to say – but what about bringing brands to life in the digital world? Well we think that’s worthy of an ‘event’ too – albeit virtually.
At Brazen Productions we produce both traditional and digital events, creating engaging content on and offline, as well as building sets, producing music videos and much much more.
So I’d like to tell you more about what we produced for Brazen client, Hyundai, with a cutting edge piece of online engagement that is far more than ‘an event’.
In a time of media doom and gloom, especially in the retail and car industries it is really encouraging to be hearing such positive things from a client who is really motoring through at the moment.
With tweets about Sierras, Maestros and various other old classics (or bangers depending on your take) I have to say for a while I wondered if the stress of the credit crunch has finally got too much and Tom Barnard at Hyundai had forgotten where he was working! But no it turned out that he and his team in the press office had actually acquired a very interesting new fleet of press cars to help them raise awareness of the government’s new scrappage scheme.
From the very second the opportunity to get £2,000 off the cost of a new car was launched the Hyundai PR team were working hard to offer the great motoring public some of the best deals on the market, and even sell some cars with it.
And that they have done…today revealing that the i10, the perfect scrappage scheme model, has made it into the top ten of the UK car sales chart, a first for the manufacturer. The Korean company’s i10 has been such as massive hit with British buyers that over 3084 have found good homes in the last month alone. The car is actually number one for Brits taking advantage of the scheme. Hardly surprising when they bagged themselves a good ten minutes of branding on the Channel 4 news last night!
I am working with Tom on a very different consumer PR project called 30beats. We teamed up with the award-winning ‘search geeks’ at Manchester agency PushON to build a bespoke website where car fans can make beautiful music with the car brand of the moment.
The website offers a nifty scroll bar of downloadable car sounds from the obvious horn to the rather exciting whoosh of the boot hydraulics – definitely my favourite of the sounds we recorded in our day at the Pie Factory in Salford’s Media City. The challenge of the site is to make your own track using this varied range of sounds and mix to a video of your making…It a creative challenge sure to offer some varied responses. We cannot wait to hear the entries as they come in.
For an idea of things to come check out our very own pop video shot with Manchester favourite, Krysko, before he began his gruelling schedule at this year’s award-winning club night the Warehouse Project. Maybe we will even see clubbers raving to his mechanic mash-up in disused carpark late on a Saturday night soon? Stranger things have caught on – glow sticks and pipe cleaners for example…
For more information about what Brazen Productions can do for you and your brand visit our world.
I was speaking to a client last week who had unfortunately decided that a member of his team was not really performing well enough in the current climate.
This isn’t uncommon in a time when you need to turn to your team to give that extra 10% in all areas to ensure success in a challenging market. What was worrying was that this employee knew nothing of the issues apart from a few random conversations.
The client had no process in place to review, manage and improve performance of anyone in the business. This causes problems for everyone, not just the management.
Pay is the worst motivator in employment, we all need it but its motivational input is immediate and has no longevity. You get a pay rise, it’s great today, but within two months it’s the new norm.
Success at work is the real motivator and it costs little more than time and application of management. To be successful everyone needs a measure of success. Then they need to know how they are doing against it. How can you offer genuine praise if you can’t measure a goal? Indeed, how can you offer supported improvement if you are not discussing the issues? Finally, how can you help someone to move on within your business if they cannot measure their own performance?
Appraisals and one-to-ones have never been more important. It’s a time when everyone in the business needs clearly defined goals, be they to deliver a number of quality Digital Designs or to develop a client’s business spend.
Appraisals require us to be better managers and they require us to be disciplined enough to deliver on our promises of time and investment. Aren’t our teams worth it? In which case do they know it? And if they don’t, where are they going to turn for the recognition they need and deserve. Your competition?
At the risk of sounding like I have an alter ego (although my friends may disagree) I do ‘moonlight’ on the darkside as social editor of Sixtynine magazine – www.69-247.com. (And before you say anything it’s not THAT kind of mag). It is in fact the UK’s biggest free regional fashion and lifestyle magazine don’t you know.
I’ve worked with the very lovely editor Kevin Urquhart and the team for about two years attending and writing about some of the North West’s hottest parties and events.
And all that hard ‘work’ means I now have a set of very desirable social skills such as – how to eat a canapé without spilling it down my top, how to carry four champagne glasses at once and doing a day to night make up look in two minutes flat (really, it’s an art.)
But seriously, working with the guys from Sixtynine has really given me first hand, valuable insight into how a magazine works. From getting involved with feature selection, to finding that all-important angle that will engage readers, it’s a brilliant experience for a consumer PR pro.
It has thoroughly made me appreciate the importance of deadlines, putting on an interesting event that gets people talking (doesn’t mean it has to cost loads) and great photography.
But for me the best and I guess most challenging part, is that I get to write what I really think about the events I attend (Kevin is a brave man) in my cheeky and hopefully entertaining Sixtynine style.
Also despite the recession, invites for events in the region haven’t really decreased. It’s encouraging that North West businesses still see the value in a good old ‘shin dig.’ After all it’s great for networking, showcasing your offering (whether it be champagne, karaoke or art) and getting that all-important talkability via online, print and word of mouth.
Brazen Productions can deliver this kind of event (well I had to get a plug in for our events division somewhere), but if you would like my alter ego and I to attend your event please email email@example.com
And thanks to Kevin Urquhart, Julia Sherwood and the team for having me. Here’s to more parties, hangovers and well erm parties!
SO, LONDONERS are about to get robots to help put out fires around the capital, it has been revealed.
Previously used in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the QinetiQ robots have been part of a successful two-year trial in and around Cockneyville by the London Fire Brigade.
All well and good but am I the only one who hates the way ‘tech’ products seem to have developed a phonetic spelling system designed, apparently, to make them sound cooler and more hi-tech?
There are three types of robot. The first is called Talon, presumably because it either resembles a Barn Owl’s claw or is lining itself up as a future star on TV’s Gladiators, and is small and easy to control, featuring video and thermal imaging. The second is the un-nervingly named Black Max, which also sounds like a cage-fighter with an inferiority complex but, apparently, looks like a quad bike and has a video camera as well as a high-pressure water hose. The third, the Brokk 90, is not some edgy post-watershed American TV series about an elite police unit but is, allegedly, a mini-digger for moving debris and accessing buildings – in my day they used to call those ‘labourers’.
There’s no word yet how they are at getting cats out of trees or posing topless for the annual Fire Brigade Hunks Calendar. But they have the right names to become established Chippendales, that’s for sure.
‘Christoforato’ may sound like a Latin euphemism for a bout of religious wind, but it is, in fact, the surname of QinetiQ’s business group manager for robotic systems, Simon.
In a statement the Grandly-surnamed Simon said. “In recent years there have been an increasing number of rail line-side fires and acetylene incidents across London, each causing massive disruption to passengers.”
As well, the Highways Agency is looking to use the robots to access cars. What ever happened to good old-fashioned car keys?
A researcher has suggested robots could be policing our streets by 2084 – Just promise us one small thing – you won’t call them anything that resembles iPlod!