diamond geezer

 Sunday, January 10, 2021

[for today's post I needed an accusatory swear word which would pass unchecked through a profanity filter, so I came up with Bolx, which I shall be using with abandon]

East of the Bow Roundabout lies an enormous (and very much unfinished) mixed-use redevelopment site. It's been a decade in the planning, demolition and partial reconstruction, and has finally got to the stage where the first offices and houses are being rented out. Originally it was going to be called Strand East but a few years ago it was rebranded as Sugar House Island, which is plainly Bolx, and the creative team haven't stopped since.
"Take 26 acres of historic London. Add intelligent design, creativity, sustainability, and a real sense of community; and you have Sugar House Island." ← Bolx
Nobody lives here yet so any sense of community is a long way off. One small corner has workspaces up and running plus a never-busy restaurant, but the rest is either building site or not yet built-on, and very much in need of tenants.

This dog is the emblem of The Dane Group who manufactured inks and paints in their factory here between 1853 and 2005. Their tiled canine mural survives, but the branding team skipped the doggy angle when picking a name for the development and focused instead on a demolished building called the Sugar House. Also Sugar House Island isn't a proper island, merely a large triangular plot surrounded by man-made offshoots of the River Lea, but for marketing purposes this insular Bolx counts as truth.
"Sugar House Island will see the fusion of original east London with the delights of the City, inspired by its rich history and unique location. Striking a balance between homes, offices, creative hubs and independent retailers, and surrounded by outdoor spaces and waterways, the Island will become a cohesive neighbourhood, inspiring human connection." ← Bolx

Recently the hoardings facing Stratford High Street have been updated. They used to be blank, or display phrases like nine centuries of makers & innovators, their old workplaces sensitively restored which were plainly Bolx. Alas the new slogans are very much worse.

i) Coming ashore is something you do when an island is at sea. Sugar House Island is not surrounded by sea, nor even lapped by tidal waters, so that's Bolx.
ii) These two drinks aren't shown from the same perspective which looks mighty odd. Also the availability of Aperol is unlikely to generate sufficiently unique chills or thrills, so that's also Bolx.
iii) The writing above the apple tree branch says Space To Let Loose, which having seen the denseness of the intended estate layout is plainly Bolx.
iv) None of the nooks and crannies available for exploration will be historic because the slate was wiped clean when the bulldozers moved in, so that's Bolx too.

It gets worse. These poems are so bad that a reader texted me during the week to decry their nauseating Bolxness.

I've blogged some pretty terrible marketing Bolx in my time, but these twee triples are on a different level. I think the worst, in terms of attracting people to live here, is bottom left, but top right runs it pretty close. A housing development you can giggle in while wearing pyjamas is about as far from a Unique Selling Point as I can imagine. Imagine the Brand Spark Workshop that generated these zingers.

The agency responsible are from Leeds and are called Kiss Branding. They describe themselves as Experi-Mentors, Change Makers, Brand Therapists and Future Strivers, which gives you some idea of their creative Bolx.
"A new agile and responsive studio, Kiss combines big agency thinking with a young challenger mentality, kissing goodbye to bureaucracy, formalities and old hat ways of doing business. It’s about time we put people first again, on both sides of the table. We’re informal, we’re straight to the point, we’re 2019."
They also haven't updated their website recently.

This list of attractions coming soon is somewhat perverse.

It looks like one of the attractions is a chimney, whereas in fact it's Chimney Walk which will be the site’s arterial heart. Someone's added a line break in the middle of Independent Retailers too, which may be utterly inept or may be a perverse way to generate interest from passers-by. Indeed you could argue that by publishing a post about Sugar House Island I have fallen into the the marketing team's trap, but they probably weren't expecting anyone to repeatedly describe their work as Bolx.

Finally, let's mention the transport claims in SHI's latest brochure.

7 minutes to King's Cross looks amazing but of course it's Bolx because they've started the clock ticking at Stratford International. That particular station is a 20 minute walk away, or an eight minute bus ride assuming the 108 turns up immediately on the opposite side of the road. Likewise the 9 minutes to Liverpool Street overlooks the need to trek to Stratford and the 10 minutes to Canary Wharf ignores the hike to Pudding Mill Lane DLR on the other side of the flyover. Developers across London really ought to stop this devious connectivity Bolx, but of course they never do.

Of course there is a target audience that laps this Bolx up. They may be in need of a modern flat with concierge or seeking somewhere to relocate their edgy creative business, in which case Sugar House Island's hoardings might just hit the mark. But the general tone of presentation, and especially those Bolx poems, have convinced me I'd be totally embarrassed to consider moving in.

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