“BRANDING IS A FORM OF ALCHEMY; YOU ARE CREATING VALUE OUT OF NOTHING (EXCEPT MEANING).” Rory Sutherland, at A World Without Brands – Why It Wouldn’t Work.
It always feels like a fantastic idea at the time – six months before the event – to book into a talk in Ladbroke Grove on a Monday evening, in this case Blue Monday (claimed to be the most depressing day of the year). As you lumber through the day, the thought of the trek becomes less and less appealing. Anyway, always inspired as we are by the speaker Rory Sutherland, we zipped up and made the voyage.
After oiling the wheels in the beautifully Victorian Elgin pub, we headed over to the Museum of Brands – who would have thought this hidden treasure existed, a stone’s throw from Ladbroke Grove tube station? This beautifully curated, and finely finished space boasts transient exhibitions and a permanent ‘time tunnel of brands’ which takes you on a visual journey through the history of brands. For me only serving to illustrate the decline of the role of craft in advertising; the beautifully evocative letterpress manifestations being replaced by lurid communications spat out by computers. It feels like we have been moved from being gently coaxed to being lead arms forced up behind our backs. I suspect this is why we desperately reach for the skip button, but that’s another story. A fantastic collection, nonetheless, and well worth a special visit if you haven’t been.
After the usual Macbook vs HDMI vs screen tomfoolery Rory was off the blocks in his usual charismatic way. We immediately knew we wouldn’t regret our trip. Contextualised with historical research and, more interestingly, day to day examples (even your mother, father, or slightly cynical research chemist brother could understand), Rory took up his usual role as champion of behavioural economics. It was fascinating and funny; notwithstanding the obvious cultural differences, he’s more Surrey (well Kent actually) than Salford, to me he is to marketing what John Cooper Clarke is to poetry. There is a real honesty and candour to his gab. You soon lose an hour and a half, and that is certainly not true of every marketing talk I have attended. If you get the chance to listen to him, do.
We finished the evening at the impressive Fez Mangal, where the Lamb Doner was sold out (which I found very reassuring), and the beer is brought by you, to discuss the implications of the evening’s talk. As we left we discovered a wall of pictures of previous diners which included Ed Sheeran and Orlando Bloom no less. Despite our concerns, it turned out to be my favourite Blue Monday in recent memory.