Location is everything. As is design. And content. So forgive me for getting grumpy with someone else’s work in public.
Just before Christmas, I happened to be passing through London Victoria station, when I spotted this poster:
Now, there are a couple of things ‘wrong’ with it, at least in my view.
1) What’s it trying to say?
Well, presumably there are a range of different people who chose to visit Worthing. All of whom look slightly uncomfortable in this image.
OK I get the point that Worthing can be accessed from London in 1hour 23m by train – that’s helpful (if you’ve got time to work out what it says as you’re swept past by the crowds).
But does it tell you anything about Worthing, other than it’s on the coast? With the choice of thousands of beaches around the UK, why should I, as a visitor, choose Worthing?
2) Location is everything
Bear in mind that I said I was ‘passing through’ London Victoria. I was already on my way somewhere and the only reason that this poster caught my eye was that I recognised the buildings.
The poster was located at the entrance/exit to the main station, directly in front of the Underground entrance. We were there at non-peak time and I had to barge a load of tourists out of the way just to get a good look at the poster, let alone take this image.
It must have cost a fortune, unless JCDecaux had some space they were literally giving away. The footfall for this site is going to be enormous, probably of biblical exodus proportions. But the dwell time is going to be tiny – not only can you not see any but the clearest posters from the other side of the walkway, but you’ve nearly always got some seven-foot high giant in between you and the poster sites obscuring your view in the couple of seconds you’ve got available.
Looking at this image, you need a good 5-8 seconds to decode it and commit the websites to memory. You’re just not going to get that in rush hour.
3) What’s the brand message?
Now this I do know.
Oh no, wait. I don’t.
It doesn’t fit with anything else I’ve ever seen in Worthing, either in the town centre or publications in the surrounding area promoting the joys of the town. I’m not even sure that the colours are the same.
4) The hang glider is going to crash into the pier
You can’t see the pier in the image, but I know that it’s there. It’ll hurt.
4) Sunny Worthing
This has, to be fair, been one of my bugbears for the past year. Sunny Worthing was a slogan ditched at the end of the 70s, and brought back into use recently.
I’m sorry, but I can’t stand it.
I took this image today (22 Feb 2011) at 3.30pm looking out of my window towards the sea. Can you see the sun?
I sure as heck can’t.
Basing the town’s slogan on a quirk of atmospheric conditions isn’t really the best of ideas – especially as Worthing isn’t the sunniest place in the UK anymore.
I realise that many of you won’t know Worthing all that well. Suffice to say it’s a fading seaside resort that’s been hammered by the recession and is now trying to pull itself up by the bootstraps. It does, however have a lot of promise – if only it would implement a community based and integrated brand plan…
So what would I have done?
If I’m honest, I wouldn’t have bought media in that location in the first place. Dwell times simply aren’t high enough for my tastes, and Victoria is a pass through location at the best of times. People are so intent on getting to where they’re going that if they can’t buy what’s being advertised locally, I’m not sure that they’d take the message in.
Had I been designing the image, I would have gone for something bold, simple, easy to digest and with personality. Something iconic which would inspire the viewer to look for more online. I would have tried to give a flavour of the experience of Worthing and a reason to visit.
I’m going to leave it at ‘Un-Meteorological’. Something aspirational. Not something that doesn’t make sense on a cold afternoon in February.
I may be grumpy about this. I may be being slightly controversial. But I don’t care because I give a damn.
I give a damn about good design, good media and great location buying.
I give a damn about thought through integrated campaigning, where a consistent style is used to build up a brand picture of a place, both at home and ‘in the field’.
I give a damn about it because I live in Worthing. And that poster doesn’t say anything to me as a resident – so what would it tell a potential visitor?
And, finally, in the interests of full disclosure, I would give my right hand to get the job promoting Worthing. The town’s got such much promise, all it needs is a little co-ordination…
I’m not sorry at all for being grumpy and probably down-right rude. I’m not going to apologise for giving a damn.
If you want to disagree (or agree) please go ahead – I would love to know what you think and whether you’ve seen similar promotional works where you live.
And, on a slightly different note, here are some beautiful examples of tourism posters from times past (spotted on the BBC website). Which do you prefer?