diamond geezer

 Friday, October 03, 2014

Yesterday's Evening Standard contained a cringeworthy four page pullout section extolling the joys of Midtwon. It was packed with crass fatuous brandspeak, interviews with grinning local employees and the general bigging-up of various businesses in the Holborn/St Giles/Bloomsbury area. In total the name Midtwon appeared more than thirty times, in every case as if it was a normal word that drips naturally from people's lips. And it so doesn't.

Yesterday's Midtwon pullout came came hot on the heels of Friday's Hoxton Holborn hotel hogwash and a Midtwon lifestyle article on Tuesday so full of verbal diarrhoea that I had to wash my hands afterwards. Clearly some sort of promotional push is going on, so I wasn't surprised to see the pullout's online version labelled as advertorial, even though the printed version had no such warning. Indeed the drive to introduce Midtwon into Londoners' vocabulary is coming from just one source, a Business Improvement District funded by a levy on local companies. There's no cohesive community here, merely an artificial boundary marking out administrative territory which the inmidtown BID team are desperate to rebrand.

And Midtwon's not the only offender. The Northbank Business Improvement District covers an adjacent area along the Strand, and they too are trying to impose a bland portmanteau name across a well known part of London. But Northbank (like Midtwon) is a name with no history, indeed is the sort of empty terminology that could easily apply to parts of Detroit, Seattle, Melbourne or Birmingham. And each is symptomatic of a branding culture that commercial interests are increasingly trying to impose on places and things that have a perfectly good identity of their own.

Kate Bush has just finished her run of gigs at the Eventim Apollo, which you or I know as the Hammersmith Apollo, except officials choose to use the name of a ticketing company instead. The famous SSE Arena is named after three letters so unhelpfully vague that the venue feels forced to add the word "Wembley" under the logo, for fear nobody will have a clue where they're talking about. The Barclaycard Arena is an imminent renaming in the heart of (go on, try to wildly guess the city before clicking through to find out). Meanwhile Newcastle FC suffered considerable reputational damage for a few years by attempting to call St James' Park the Sports Direct Arena, whereas Arsenal and Manchester City have named their stadia after Middle Eastern airlines without a shadow of remorse.

It's all about the money, obviously. If the difference between The Ricoh Arena and The City of Coventry Stadium is enough to pay for additional players each year, what board would turn down the offer? Boris got his cablecar off the ground by selling the naming rights to a sponsor, ditto the cycle hire scheme was partly funded by a high street bank keen for high profile publicity. Labelling a project with the name of a financial backer is increasingly the modern way, which some would call bearing down on costs, but I find deeply depressing.

Because the problem is, as a society, we let the rebranding engineers get away with it. They offer up a new name for something and we start using it, succumbing to their cunning ploy like sheep. We start to call the Hammersmith Apollo by a bloody stupid new name because someone told us to. We've completely forgotten the Millennium Dome because someone persuaded us it's an oxygen molecule that represents a phone company. We go to matches at the Emirates because we're unwitting corporate whores. Repeat a name enough times in enough places and the unthinking masses adopt it as their own.

But renamings don't always bed down, don't always work. Nobody prefixes the London Eye with whatever the name of its sponsor is this week. The Kia Oval is only ever the Oval, unless you're the dull sucker writing the press release. Barclays Cycle hire steeds are known as Boris Bikes, which is indeed rebranding of a kind, but means the bank wasted its money. Sometimes the relaunch fails, when society collectively rejects the updated title in a mass outbreak of good taste.

So I trust that Midtwon is another name destined for the bargain bin. It's a vacuous label applied to a meaningless area, the whim of a committee who think their business strategy is more important than centuries of history. Repeating it several times in a free newspaper won't bring the term to everyone's lips, merely make the proponents look more desperate. And I realise I've made things worse by bringing the name to your attention, because the oxygen of publicity is what these lexicographical manipulators crave. But I'm sure I can trust you to continue to shun the Midtwon brand, because if we can't hang on to using the proper names of things then the marketing merchants have won.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sunday 2nd October (8.30-6.30)
Thames Barrier Closure
Annual all-day test, peaking around high tide at 3pm.

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv