Friday, March 27, 2009

Exhuming The Culture Company's Corpse

Those hoping that all the mindless marketing hype from 08 has gone into history could be disappointed. Mindful of culture year's demise, the city council & assorted associates seemingly wish to perpetuate the impression that 2008 was just the start of a glorious future for Liverpool; if Trotskyites are chided for believing in the concept of permanent revolution, the city council should be similarly upbraided for their faith in permanent re-launches (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/merseyside/7965303.stm ).
The BBC report that there is a 15-year plan to turn Liverpool into "a thriving international city".
Mmm, yes, do go on:
"Its aims include creating thousands of jobs, increasing the population by building more family homes and improving health."
Later on in the Beeb's account the marketing types get to mangle the English language:
"Mike Taylor, director for investment and enterprise at Liverpool Vision, said, 'The new brand builds on the £300m of recognition created by 08 and it represents a focal point for a shared vision for the future growth of the city.' "
Keen to join in the renewed orgy of back-slapping & civic onanism, the Daily Post wades in:
http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2009/03/26/liverpool-reveals-new-vision-to-become-a-thriving-international-city-92534-23235447/ .
David Bartlett story goes into more detail, giving, by Trinity Mirror standards, a ream of statistics to chew on. However, it all adds up to a packaged wish-list, not a clear, costed plan. It ranges from the laudable (education & employment skills, improving the local environment) to the frankly Utopian (making Liverpool one of the top five shopping destinations in the UK, aiming for less than 10% of the city's population to smoke).
City council leader Warren Bradley is in bullish mood:
"Fundamentally, it is about making a step change for everybody in the city, not just the vulnerable, but everybody.
"Too many of our people are without the skills necessary to get a job and we have massive challenges to overcome in regard to poor health."
As Joe Anderson, leader of the Labour group on the city council, notes, the aims are clearly commendable, but the Devil is in the detail.
Colin Hilton, city council Chief Executive, is also quoted:
"We are actually going to compete internationally and grow ourselves.
"We are not saying that as an aspiration, but signing up to a plan to get to that destination.
"For example, we know we need to attract more businesses, at least another one-third more."
Bradley's use of the term "step change" makes the whole enterprise sound like a work-out at the gym rather than a long-term strategy. Hilton doesn't elaborate, unfortunately, on how a city can grow itself.
On his Dale Street Blues blog David Bartlett is keen to highlight the new logo which accompanies the launch (http://blogs.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/dalestreetblues/2009/03/liverpools-new-logo.html#more ):
"It will be freely available for all businesses, organisations and individuals to use.
"The logo forms the basis of rebranding Liverpool as a sparky city that is on the up."
Sparky? On the up? Oh dear.
An altogether welcome note of scepticism is provided by How-Do in its coverage (http://www.how-do.co.uk/north-west-media-news/north-west-marketing-services/liverpool-brand-launches-today-with-%27predictable%27-city-skyline-identity-200903265007/ ):
"The new logo has been shrouded in mystery, with the few privy to a preview being sworn to secrecy.
"One disgruntled insider, though, told How-Do: 'Predictably the logo depicts a Liverpool city skyline viewed from the waterfront.'
"They continued: 'There was going to be an accompanying strap-line reading: "Alive with Imagination", but this has been dropped due to a pretty poor reception from everyone unfortunate enough to have seen it.' "
Since How-Do published its piece the logo has been unveiled, & it's right, the logo is, to this admittedly inexpert eye, cliched, unoriginal & slightly jaded looking (www.liverpoolcitybrand.com ). The image of the waterfront, the sort of thing that's been sketched, drawn & photographed so many times down the years, is bathed in blue. It looks like the sort of thing Banksy would have sprayed on a bad day.
How-Do also reveals how the brand was originally given over to the Finch Partnership company in the city "without it going out to pitch". After the resulting furore Liverpool Vision relented, allowing the second stage of the process to go to competitive tender.
Various local celebs & business figures were at the launch to show their support for the logo & campaign, including Cream boss James Barton & The Zutons' saxophonist Abi Harding. However, one prominent local figure was seemingly conspicuous by his absence, according to How-Do:
"One former advocate said to be missing from today's line-up is Phil Redmond, the self-appointed 'Mr Liverpool' .
"Redmond is believed to have 'taken his bat and ball home' following disagreements over the future direction of the Liverpool brand. Redmond was said to favour greater continuity with the city's 2008 cultural positioning."
Lord Redmond frozen out, eh? Tony, Professor, over to you.

1 comment:

Tessa said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ruth

http://muffinsnow.com