Now then … there’s a shopping centre in Wimbledon in South London called, with understandable opportunism, Centre Court (it’s a centre, it’s a court, it’s in a centre, and what’s Wimbledon famous for that also has a centre court? – advantage, town planners!). That’s not the problem. It has been rebranded and now has a tagline. This tagline is, “Irresistibly Local” (see: above). Let’s just have a think about this, as the overpaid marketing ladies and gentlemen obviously didn’t when they thought it up. First of all: it’s a shopping centre in Wimbledon. How can it not be local? Everywhere is local. If it was in Harrogate or Chelmsford or Taunton or Oban it would be local. Just not local to Wimbledon. As such, it’s true. Centre Court is local. It’s not local in any other sense than literal. The shops in it are universal. They are Marks & Spencer and River Island and Gap and Thorntons and H&M and Athena. In what way are they local? Other than they are probably staffed by people from South London?
Now let’s look at the prefix “Irresistibly”. It suggests, well, irresistibility. It’s subjective, but advertising is allowed to be subjective, as long as it isn’t a lie. And for someone – someone who fancies a Thornton’s chocolate and a pair of Gap trousers who finds themselves in the Wimbledon area, say, and it’s raining outside – the prospect of Centre Court might actually be hard to resist. But to call it “Irresistibly Local” is actually insane. How do you resist a building’s locality? Its locality is its locality. It’s not going to move overnight. There would be little point in resisting Centre Court’s locality. You could try going to Centre Court a bit further down the high street, but it would be pointless. (Resistence is, in this case, futile.) Why don’t these flipchart fools think twice before having the corporate livery made up? It’s like the tossed-off results of an Apprentice task.
Here’s the best bit. If you enter Centre Court you will see its opening time displayed on the glass doors. Except these are not just its opening times (9am-7pm), they are, according to the branded notices, its “Irresistible Opening Times”! Resist these times at your peril! Try walking through those doors at five to nine. It’s not going to happen.
On a related note, I notice that Regent Street in Central London has been rebranded. There’s a big “R”, then underneath it says, “Where Time Is Always Well Spent.” OK. This is a bold claim. It would certainly be well spent if you wanted to get from Piccadilly Circus to Regent’s Park, as walking up it would get you there and there’s no straighter route. But to say that it’s always well spent? Well, if you like shopping, I suppose it would be mostly well spent. If, say, you wanted to buy a kilt, or an overpriced toy from Hamleys, or a Thornton’s chocolate you forgot to get in Wimbledon, you could spend it in worse places than Regent Street. But I’ve spent time on Regent Street that I’d like back. I once went to the Disney store on a Sunday with my parents and it wasn’t open, so we had to stand outside and wait for it to open. That wasn’t time well spent.
I looked Regent Street’s rebranding up on the Internet, and I’m afraid what I found doesn’t quell my ire for those people who are paid to embroider with the English language until a mundane thing seems that little bit more … I don’t know, American.
Under the heading, Branding Strategy – Executive Summary, we find that The Crown Estate, who must own the street, has “a vision” that will “ensure that Regent Street evolves to be a place for people, a place for retail and a place for business.” As opposed to what it was before? A place for livestock, a place for bingo and a place for see-saws? “The brand and its identity provide a vehicle that will enable that vision to be realised by reinforcing and communicating Regent Street as a unique destination, attracting shoppers, retailers, businesses and visitors to the area throughout the day and well into the evening.” Fair enough, but isn’t time always well spent there? Surely when the shops are closed the value of time spent there tails off a bit. It get worse. “The brand highlights and promotes Regent Street as a fusion of contrasts ie. the contrast between the traditional architecture and contemporary retail, the cosmopolitan and community spirit, business and pleasure, buzz and relaxation.” Oh do give over.
“These contrasts are best described in the brand essence: Always. Different.” The marketeers help us out here by explaing what “Always” and “Different” mean, which I won’t trouble you with. Anyhoo, “the brand essence of Regent Street is communicated through the logo, colours, typeface and strapline: the ‘R’ is composed of Bodoni, one of the oldest typefaces in existence and the re-drawn tail of the ‘R’ symbolises the famous Regent Street curved sweep; by redrawing the R and adding the flash of colour, the contrasts of Traditional and Contemporary convey the essence: Always. Different.”
Oh, it ends with near-priapic talk of “a three-stage evolutionary rollout programme for the brand”, including a “stakeholder soft launch”, after which I needed a lie down. It’s Irresistibly Bollocks.