Around 20 years ago I sat in a large over-lit office that smelt slightly of cheese. The hum of the strip lights made me feel slightly out of sorts.
This was the Headquarters of Isle of Wight Tourism. Downstairs had an awful dancing musical fountain display where pensioners arrived by coach to pay a tenner to watch. Upstairs, in what used to be a gym, was the tourism office’s massive meeting room. They never could shift that smell.
“The Isle of Wight was home to one of the greatest, most famous festivals ever. Think Woodstock, think the Isle of Wight” I said.
“How about we relaunch it?”
One of the clay models of the Needles Lighthouse that was gathering dust in the corner fell over. I looked around the room and a familiar sense of emptiness filled me. Someone broke the silence.
“It won’t happen” said Mr Risk-Averse, “And we don’t want a repeat of what happened last time.”
“But at least think,” I said, “Directing budget on relaunching the festival and partnering with the right people will be a really exciting way to promote the island to a new, younger target audience”.
“It will alienate our core audience”, said Mr Risk-Averse’s colleague, June.
“Your core audience are literally dying.” I said.
Someone in the room gasped. I thought I was going to be Zimmered out of the room right there and then.
‘It wont happen… Now how’s the ad in the back of the Daily Mail doing?”
And that was that.
On the escape ferry home, I began to dream. If no-one owns the Isle of Wight Festival, could I take on the brand?
I went back the following week and took the Head of Tourism out for a pint of Duck’s Folly at the Waterfront in Totland. An interesting bar where they served reformed scampi.
“I want to do this.” I said “Will you support me in my quest?”
“Its not going to happen, Adam, another pint?”
Unfortunately at the time the risk of losing a good account and pissing off a good client was too much. I didn’t pursue. And while I appreciate that the journey must have been a tough one with many ups and downs, it is nice to see that eventually it happened.
Like Bernie Ecclestone seeing that separate individual car races owned by no one in particular, could be turned into something enormous, I have always been fascinated by invisible opportunity. Let’s say opportunity that others perhaps cannot see. Opportunity that lies out there, beyond the spreadsheet.
I read today in Brighton’s only newspaper (The Guardian) that an ambitious chap called Xan Morgan (when I say ambitious, I mean he has the Chequered Wool Comfort Blanket of being from the Morgan Car Family) has opened up a new CBD shop in Soho.
“Oh, here he goes again”, I hear a collective soporific yawn from my colleagues at Designate, “CBD is the next big thing and we need to be doing something about it.”
But this man has done that little bit more. He has taken it to a higher level. Yes, CBD use is growing faster than your average bush, but he has pressed the boost button. He spotted something invisible. Possibly after enjoying his own product before the THC was removed (I don’t know that, it is merely speculation).
His shop is called Mr Nice. Named after the celebrity dealer Howard Marks. The late drug baron is making a posthumous comeback (nicked that from The Guardian) and it comes with the full blessing of his daughter.
It’s a blazing good idea and is the launch pad for a massive high in this already crowded market. I WISH I HAD THOUGHT OF THIS.
And that is it. That’s all I want to say.
That’s how we creative folk want to work. We have the mindsets and ability to spot the things that the strategists will miss. We look up above the spreadsheet and analysis to find the invisible in the visible. Sometimes it takes an afternoon in the pub, or a walk down the street, or a little dab of CBD. Give us the time and the space, and we will find you something that cannot be put in any spreadsheet ever. But it can add to your bottom line. Massively by the way. And then you will love us.
And back to the Isle of Wight, that pint of Duck’s Folly I was drinking was from a local micro brewery owned by a man who once was incredibly wealthy. He lost everything when Lloyds List collapsed.
His beer was an anagram.
You do the maths.