diamond geezer

 Wednesday, February 04, 2015

It's now been a month since the cablecar last dallied with a commercial partner to drum up business. Snowdog banished, step up My Single Friend.
Dating event with a difference
And February's tie-up has everything. An arresting press release. Late night opening. A gobsmacking proposition. Freebie giveaways. Rampant marketingspeak. And the sound of a shark being jumped.
Unique event invites singles and their trusted friends to see the sights of London by water and air on MBNA Thames Clippers and the Emirates Air Line
This is a Valentine's week special, designed to grab a few column inches in the media and promote two underused transport services. A few brave freeloaders will get a night out on the river and in the air, plus the possibility of romance (terms and conditions apply). And the rest of London will be reminded that Thames Clippers and the Dangleway exist, and maybe spend some hard cash on a ride later. Well that's the plan.
Transport for London (TfL) and MySingleFriend.com are hosting a free dating event on board MBNA Thames Clippers and the Emirates Air Line on Thursday 12 February. Singles and their loyal wingmen and wingwomen are invited to take to the river and skies to find a date for their single friends in two romantic settings.
Now read that last sentence again. Yes, they really did say "singles and their loyal wingmen and wingwomen", which is one of the ugliest phrases ever to grace a press release. PR agency Manifest London have created this 'wingman' idea as the kernel of their MSF campaign, invoking Goose from Top Gun as support, and then appending a female version to ensure political correctness.

I think TfL are being very brave picking Thursday 12 February for this one-off event. Last year the second week of February was wild and windy, and ridership figures consequently hit an all-time record low. Stakeholders will be keeping their fingers crossed that godawful weather doesn't terminate this singles night early.
Registration for the event is free at mysinglefriend.com/wingman. On the night, singletons and their friends will enjoy a moonlit boat ride on a MBNA Thames Clippers before embarking on speed-dating with a twist on the Emirates Air Line - London's only cable car.
There is a very important reason why singletons need to bring a friend. It wouldn't be right to trap a random male and a random female together in midair for twenty minutes, for fear of inappropriate behaviour and litigation, so this way everyone brings their own witness with them and the lawyers can sleep easy.
The evening kicks off at 6.45pm at the London Eye Pier. Daters will travel along the river to North Greenwich on board MBNA Thames Clippers, with host and comedian Matt Reed on hand to entertain the crowd and get them ready for a memorable night.
You'll get an hour on the boat, you and your wingperson, where you'll subjected to a comedy routine and the services of "a CASH ONLY bar". Only the travel is free, alas, so if you fancy lubrication you'll need to stump up. And do try to grab a window seat if you can, because the central section of a Clipper service offers fairly limited views of the banks of the Thames after dark.
After disembarking at North Greenwich, singles and their wingmen and wingwomen will take to the skies on the Emirates Air Line, spending the twenty minute trip mingling with other pairs and taking in the views of the London skyline at night.
This is cunning timing because the cablecar usually closes to the travelling public at 8pm, and the Wingman event isn't scheduled to arrive until 8.05, by which time the commuter rush will have died down.

Once arrived, guests will be rewarded with one return trip on the Dangleway, with (it appears) at least two other singleton/wingman pairs crammed into each cabin for the ride. You can imagine the awkwardness at the terminal as flirting guests attempt to manoeuvre themselves into the same cabin as each other, and then the embarrassment in midair when it turns out that the hunky bloke they've been eyeing up is only the wingman, and the ugly sod with them is the singleton.
Guests can then continue their evening getting to know each other in The O2 at All Bar One, where they will get discounted beverages and promotions.
It turns out that the business doing best out of the whole affair is the All Bar One at the O2, towards which participants will be nudged after their cablecar ride. And before you get too excited by the promise of discounts, the smallprint says the offer is for "10% off your final bill", so that's a Mojito for £7.15 or a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc for £17.30, which you'll probably end up sharing with your wingman rather than any future spouse.
Danny Price, TfL's Head of the Emirates Air Line said: `Romance isn't the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of transport, yet a boat trip along the Thames and a cable car flight above it are two very romantic ways to experience inspiring views of London after dark. In fact, both have seen a couple of marriage proposals before. We hope the evening provides a dating event with a difference and the sparkling lights of London set the mood for romance.'
Romance wasn't the first thing that came to mind when TfL created the cablecar in the first place, I'll bet, but an increasing need to get bums on seats requires a fertile imagination. And whilst an after dark cablecar trip for two people might well be romantic, so long as the in-flight movie's been turned off, cramming three pairs of strangers into an aerial pod has more the feeling of cattlemarket about it.
Sarah Beeny, MySingleFriend.com's founder, said: `We wanted to offer a completely unique dating event which people would never forget. What could set the scene for romance more than....
...a bouquet of flowers and a night at a top restaurant? ...plumped-up pillows and an array of scented candles? ...a surprise weekend in Venice at a five star hotel? No, Sarah's idea of romantic perfection is being shepherded with some strangers onto two forms of public transport.
...a boat ride before taking to the skies and admiring the view below? Experiencing something completely different makes people more open to new possibilities, so it's the perfect environment for meeting people. Plus with a wingman in tow, it makes it even more fun. Our wingmen might not have Cupid's wings, but London's only cable car comes a pretty close second.'
I've read that last sentence several times, and I still don't have a bloody clue what it means. It sounds like the PR team realised they needed a killer sentence to finish their press release, but knocked off early without ever reading back to see if it made any sense.
TfL has not contributed to the cost of the event. It has been covered by MBNA Thames Clippers and My Single Friend.
Well thanks goodness for that, because it would be awful to think that TfL had spent public money on an aerial folly such as this. And if you fear you may be too late to sign up in the rush for tickets, never fear...
The Emirates Air Line will be opening later over the Valentine's Day period with complementary chocolates on offer to celebrate the romantic occasion - Thursday 12th until 9pm, Friday 13th and Saturday 14th until 10pm, and Sunday 15th until 9pm.
Yes, you too can ride the cablecar two hours later than usual on the Friday and Saturday nights, or one hour later on the Sunday should you forget to take your loved one out on Valentine's Day itself. Impress them with some free chocolates, because that's the kind of caring partner you are, and show them the scrapyards of Silvertown from above. You might not be winging it, but London's only cable car comes a pretty close second.

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