Thursday, 23 October 2008

Millennium Humbug.

Now, many people might think it’s a little late to be writing about the millennium, it being 2008 and all. I saw today that Addidas have become the latest brand to become a ‘founding sponsor’ of the O2 - the run away success which is now (apparently) the most successful entertainment venue in the world - and it got me thinking... Why is it now considered such a success? And what changed?

Well, loads.

The content for a start. No more well-meaning exhibitions, pumping out platitudes about the body, God and god knows what else, for a start.

Instead AEG, the Giant American entertainment specialists have brought together a wealth of venues and experiences in their ‘little leisure city’ model which has been rolled out across the world many times before.

So the content has changed – and that’s great. But the content was never the concept for the Millennium Dome. The Dome was meant to be a celebration of the turning of the years; something great to mark the passage of time.

Criticising the Dome because of its content was always a bit like saying the telly was a rubbish invention because Richard and Judy is crap. The idea of the Dome was sound – something big and impressive to mark Y2k.

At the time I was a big supporter of the Dome. While others scoffed I was standing back, admiring the sunrise against its majestic outline, saying ‘wow, just look at it...’

If we look back at London’s three major physical projects for the Millennium I think we can all be fairly proud of ourselves... The Millennium Wheel, The Millennium Bridge and the Dome are all crackers... absolute aesthetic dynamite.

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in all three since their conception (The Silver Surfer at the Millennium Eye, The Simpsons premiere at the O2 and... a dodgy Japanese TV interview about ‘wobbliness’ on th bridge) and will continue to cheerlead for them into the future.

I love ‘em and love the fact that we built them.

The points I want to make are threefold:

1) Isn’t it great that in the face of public criticism, we continue to build big shiny things? God knows if we didn’t we’d all live in Stoke.

2) Will the press please PACK IT IN! Printing obvious rabble rousing stories designed to shift copies rather than deliver news... YOU ARE NEWSPAPERS (or news programmes) for goodness sake. Yes it’s easy to doomsay, yes it sells...just stop it. I refer to the effects of the media on the recent credit crisis to evidence my point.

3) Well done AEG for their model of brand involvement.
There’s nothing overtly new in what the O2 is doing for founder partners – Mobile phone companies in particular have been giving perks to members for years – what is new is the iconic status of the focus of the activity. Getting priority tickets or parking (BMW) to the O2 really means something to customers.

All in all it’s a great story. Let’s all just be a little less quick to step on exciting new projects (Anyone or Olympics?)... you never know, they might just turn out really, really good.

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