Well, well, well

When place branding specialist Simon Anholt explains in a podcast why nations need a carefully thought through brand strategy to which all players in the economy subscribe, he quotes the legendary David Ogilvy who once said, “If all you want to do is attract attention, then you put a gorilla in a jockstrap”.

As Ogilvy himself explained it, if you want to get recall, you then put the brand on the jockstrap itself. You will certainly get buzz, and people will remember the stunt. But will anything meaningful, in commercial terms, happen beyond that? Doubtful.

And the reason is that having got people’s attention, you need to do something with that energy. You need to direct it somewhere. You must provide a meaningful story and experience that links what people have seen with what they do. It’s not enough just to give them something to look at. It’s as meaningless in branding terms as a carrot, a jumping trout or just another pretty logo. Badges aren’t brands.

Of course Wellington’s already done a lot more than just underwear-draping with a gorilla. In fact, as the whole world knows, the revamped King Kong beat the dinosaur, defended the girl and still had time at the end to scale the building.

Clearly another primate thing isn’t going to cut it. Not in this day and age.

So instead, someone simply suggests erecting a large white sign on a hill.

That gets attention. Facebook goes mental. There are demonstrations, media stories, outrage, traffic jams, comments, derisions, mentions of civil disobedience, and even offers of prizes to bring the wretched edifice down …

That was easy. And it may well be just as easy to get the momentary attention of people flying into the city. “Look, a sign. Ha, ha”

But then what? How does this sign connect with what people come to Wellington to experience? What does it add or inform beyond that moment of attention?

That to me is the real issue here. And I’m hoping that’s what this Wellywood sign proposal is – a way of getting people to pay attention and focus on how Wellington could use such a prime piece of real estate to extend its story. If that’s the real intention, then Wellywood’s certainly done its job.

If not, and this really is as far as it goes – banana, anyone?

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