Tag Archives: history

Why are London’s Talking Statues staying quiet online?

12 Aug

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I’ve met a few celebrities in my time, and therefore had the obligatory ‘be cool’ moment before quickly losing it. (Meeting Labrinth on stage at Proud Camden springs to mind, with my cousins having no choice but to make the universal sign for ‘crazy’ behind my back to make amends.) But, I’ve never had the pleasure of Sir Patrick Stewart, Hugh Bonneville or Prunella Scales giving me a call on the old dog and bone for a catch up.

You neither? Well, that’s going to change.

The Evening Standard has revealed that statues across London are going to be brought to life with voice recordings, as part of a year-long art project called: Talking Statues Speak Their Minds. From 19th August, people will have the chance to use their smartphones to unlock statues’ exclusive content before receiving a call from a well-known name who’ll share information about the figure’s life history.

It’s a great way to add yet another dimension to the city, giving Londoners an opportunity to explore old sights for the first time. And, the story has generated a commendable amount of PR thanks to Riot Communications.

But, with the launch just around the corner, its efforts will be wasted if it doesn’t bring its digital marketing up to scratch.

Here’s some lessons the Talking Statues might want to learn:

Woeful websites miss opportunities
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that websites are the first port of call for more information, but the Talking Statues aren’t capitalising on incoming traffic. Google the initiative and there’s simply holding pages providing a home for a press release.

I’m not asking for downloadable resources for people to map out their routes pre-launch (necessarily), but the least Talking Statues can do is put themselves in the shoes of their audience and think about what they’d want to see: articles, interviews and images.

Unsociable social media doesn’t win friends
On Twitter, Talking Statues boasts just 158 followers and on Facebook just a pitiful 72. Hardly a significant platform to shout about an innovative campaign this Tuesday. Followers and fans aside, updates are few and far between and the content is dull.

There’s a big opportunity here to tease content by taking pictures of stars in the studio doing voice overs; challenging fans to guess which statues are being improved; and even launching a competition giving someone the chance to voice their favourite London artefact.

But hey, if I can just think of these things off the top of my head I shouldn’t expect an agency to, should I?

Phone a friend
The campaign’s content is triggered by people swiping their smartphones across the statues, so it would’ve made sense to work with a supplier that can make this even easier. Whether that’s The Cloud, offering free WiFi for app downloads on the spot; network providers using advertising pop-ups to market their services; or phone companies showing off the latest gadgets, having the backing from one of the big boys could’ve potentially freed up Talking Statues to focus more on the marketing.

Of course, I could be jumping the gun and this will all fall into place on Tuesday. But, if it doesn’t, I’ll know who to call.

What do you think of the campaign?

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Aflac duck ruffles feathers after riding the subway

25 Sep

Ey up duck! I’ve got to hand it to Aflac for using a duck to promote its insurance business by letting it do its thing in New York, including riding the subway.

The Aflac duck has been part of the company’s brand identity since 1999, after an advertising executive walking around Central Park muttering the business name realised it sounded a lot like a duck’s ‘quack’. After that, the Aflac duck became the star of TV adverts, but never before has the brand used a live one to promote the business.

And it might not get the chance again after the news of a duck on the loose ruffled feathers. MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg stressed that ‘ducks don’t belong on the subway… especially waddling through stations’, obviously.

I do like a rebel stunt and the fact that a risk averse insurance client signed this off is simply brilliant. Live animals spotted in unusual settings will always get tongues wagging, and Aflac’s achieved just that with the New York Post and the Huffington Post having its say.

So the stunt’s paid off and no cringe-worthy branding was needed because the duck has so much history with the company. But I doubt they’ll be able to smuggle a duck on the subway again. Adam’s got his beady eye Aflac now. But, what’s a duck meant to do?

According to PR Week, he’d come straight from a recording session with N Sync’s Lance Bass and Joey Fatone.

Good PR by Aflac or has it just been spun a tale by the quack doctors?

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The IOC is wrestling to drop this Olympic sport

15 Feb

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It’s been six months since the end of the London 2012 Olympic Games but the international sporting event is still generating plenty of coverage this week:

Leading the pack is South African Paralympic gold medallist and double amputee Oscar Pistorius who’s recently denied murder after his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was found dead at his home.

Secondly, ‘poster girl for London 2012’ Jessica Ennis has topped a poll, alongside the Queen, as one of the country’s most inspirational women.

Lastly, the International Olympic Commission (IOC) is facing criticism after it announced it wanted to drop wrestling as an Olympic sport – an event that dates back to the ancient Greek games and has been part of the modern programme since 1896.

There’s still a chance it could stay – if the IOC officially ratifies it at a meeting in September – but at the moment it’s competing against six other sports, such as baseball and squash, for one spot in the 2020 programme.

Of all the recent news the latter bothers me most. Why? Because those that have been with Prime Time from the beginning will remember that when I was a GamesMaker I helped to oversee the wrestling at the ExCeL centre.

The Olympic Games has such a unique history that it’s a privilege for countries to host this amazing centre stage to showcase talented athletes. (You only have to watch a snippet of Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony to see how much effort we put in.) With this in mind, I appreciate that to keep the Olympics current, occasionally it has to redevelop itself. And I’m all eyes and eyes for modernisation, but when elements of the event’s history and heritage are at stake then that’s a different matter.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a closet member of FILA – the wrestling federation. Until last August I’d never even seen a Greco-Roman match, but the fact that the IOC has deemed it a good enough sport, to recognise and reward athletes for demonstrating their skills and strength, for more than a century must worth something.

If it’s about ticket sales, the IOC should be supporting FILA with advice to raise the sport’s profile. After all, more athletes and more fans would benefit both parties. But, instead the committee bull-dozed ahead without talking to anyone. So, not only does the IOC look rash but also now appears defensive by saying:

“We knew even before the decision was taken whatever sport would not be included in the core programme would lead to criticism from the supporters of that sport.”

The backlash against the IOC has spread quickly and I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels surprised. ESPN’s Jim Caple highlights a range of other sports that could’ve been given the chopper which would’ve caused less controversy. (Trampolining anyone?)

Wrestling is an ancient sport. I mean that in the historical sense, not old.
It’ll be interesting to see what the outcome is as the wrestlers, and their fans, fight to feature in Rio and beyond.

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