PR, Films and Fantasies

The fact that I stop writing on the blog doesn’t really mean I stopped writing, just that my focus lies somewhere else for the moment. That other place is Chesamel Communications‘ website, the insights section, where I get to share all kinds of news about the world of mar-com or the fabulous people I get to meet weekly in the amazing London Town.

If you want to check out Donald Trump’s top tips for succeeding in business, my top trends to use in mobile marketing for small businesses or the winners of this year’s Screen Awards (the marketing and distribution awards for the film industry), do log in and have a read. I’d really appreciate some feedback as well. Also, if there’s something you think I should write about, just drop me a line!

It’s been exactly one month since I handed in my MA dissertation and officially finished university… actually school overall… which means, to be more precise, the end of 17 years of my life!!! SEVEN-TEEN. You can imagine that I wished for this moment to happen over and over again, but now that it’s finally here, now that I’m an adult (!), now that I am absolutely free to set my life, I dread it! It’s so scary knowing that in September you don’t have something waiting for you, that no matter what, you know you’ll always have academia if everything else fails.

Employment is a sort of Pandora’s box, especially if your “broad” degree allows you to work in everything and anything but actually nothing. Which sector, which industry, what position, how qualified, full-time/part-time, freelance, taxes and a billion other dilemmas. The “good” part is that I’m not alone in the feeling…

In one of my latest papers for the MA program I am on this year I looked at the connections between concepts of the experience economy and of the creative city.

As (surprisingly!!!!) the paper was very, very, very well received, I thought about sharing it as it might help other students (and ok… maybe other researchers too:)). Here is the introduction and following the link you can read the whole thing: essay.

“They will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” 

The economy and the city

The connection between the development of urban areas and the different stages of the local, regional or global economy has been constantly debated throughout they years (Scott, 2006; Jacobs, 1969; Kong and Conor, 2009). There is no doubt that the evolution of cities and that of the dynamics of economic production, labour and consumption can be overlapped during different periods of history, however, stating that one has led to the birth of the other can prove to be a very challenging argument. Jane Jacobs (1969) claimed that historically, cities have been the origin and engine of innovation and economic growth, on the other hand, Scott (2006:2) suggests that “the shifting fortunes of each individual urban area” depends highly on the shift in economic models and behaviours. To answer the question “which was first?” is impossible as “new ideas and new fields of economy are invented in cities” (Kong and Connor, 2009:208) but also, cities have been created and expanded due to the needs and demands of the economy different ages.

Combining the models of Toffler (1980) and Bell (1973), the world economy can be divided into a first, agrarian wave, based on agricultural practices, a second wave of mass produced goods and automised machines, followed by a post-industrial, third wave, focused mainly on the provision of services. Over the past 20 years, as new technologies have shown their power and due to significant changes in the financial capital and the amount of leisure time, concepts like the “knowledge economy” (in which the main currency is information; Bell, 1973), “the experience economy” (based on the value added by experiences to the consumption process; Pine and Gilmore, 1999) and the highly praised “creative economy” (in which creativity is the main factor of differentiation between products, companies or places; Pratt, 2008) have also been circulating. They could either be placed in the last, post-industrial wave or most likely, considered to have created a Forth Wave of their own in which they co-exist and overlap.

During each stage, cities have been the main arenas for the interaction between producers, consumers and all the other entities connected to the transactional processes. In Antiquity and Medieval times, they were the world’s communication knots and therefore its main markets, growing steadily to accommodate a variety of trades that answered the needs of those passing through (Hall, 2000). The nineteenth-century capitalism gave birth to the classical factory town, followed by the rise of the fordist mass production “associated with the growth and spread of the large industrial metropolis” (Scott, 2006:3). As “traditional manufacturing activities declined in the developed world” (Pratt, 2008:5) new styles of urbanisation have developed to create the perfect conditions in which new economies could flourish and to cater for a new work force.

The very popular concept of “creative city” (Landry, 2000) could be the perfect urban model associated with the development of knowledge, experience and creativity all together because it brings “the dimensions of economy, culture, and place back into a practical and humanly reasonable harmony” (Scott, 2006:15). As creativity and information are the base for the creative city (Cooke, 2008), this paper will focus on examining the extent to which “experiences” and other concepts associated with Pine and Gilmore’s (1999) description of the experience economy, are part of, or resources for, this type of urban environment.

Last year I wrote a paper for one of my university modules on the Creative Industries in strict regimes, focusing on Communist Romania. It’s definitely not the best piece of writing, not necessarily a mind-blowing piece and for most Romanians things will probably sound very familiar. However, here, in the UK, it was received extremely well (and yes, I got a nice mark for it) as many of my tutors and colleagues found it quite informative and interesting. Also, the introductory part as well as my literature review could prove quite useful for anyone wanting to define creativity, understand what limits it or encourages it, as well as find out what are ‘the creative industries’ and why they should be praised.

Hope you enjoy reading it: Creative Industries in Communist Romania

P.S. I am more than happy to comment on anything on the topic! Let me know what you think!

P.P.S The poster is form the Communism Museum in Prague

Quick entry tonight… I’ve been studying creative cities for more than a year now (during my BA and now in my MA) and I thought it’s time I shared a few videos/podcasts on ‘cities’ that I found quite interesting. I’m working on an essay on the links between the experience economy and the creative city at the moment, so I’ve been listening and watching quite a few for the past weeks. These are just some starting points, mainly by the big names in the field such as Charles Landry, Richard Florida or Peter Hall. Let me know if you have some more!

Charles Landry


Sir Peter Hall

Phil Wood

Peter Kageyama

Be creative! (Yes, I am being sarcastic!)

P.S. In a future post I’ll comment on the number of “creative cities” or regions out there. Only last night I saw Scotland’s latest tourism add – The year of Creative Scotland. All this after ages of Creative Britain or Creative England… I wonder what Ireland is waiting for?

This week I was invited to Communicate Magazine’s  half day Transform Conference, followed by the glamorous 2012 Transform Awards. Basically, “transform” stands in for “rebrand” as both the conference and the awards are Europe’s only programs that focus on the process of changing brand identities.

The brand is central to the intangible value assigned to companies by their stakeholders. No company can sit still – the process of examining and re-examining a brand in terms of its relevance to those stakeholders should be ongoing.

The Transform conference is not just there for those about to embark on a thorough rebrand, but for everyone concerned with their brand’s relevance to the changing marketplace and to their stakeholders – whether it’s their investors, employees, the media or others.

I would go through what happened on the day and what were the points that each of the speakers followed, but I think it would be more helpful if you had a look at the live blog from the conference. It is probably more in depth and more accurate than what I can remember and it also includes the presentations from each of the sections, which I am sure you will find very helpful.

Also, have a quick Twitter Search for the #transform12and you will find some incredible tweets with information, opinions and critique. The hashtag also includes all the tweets from the awards ceremony with all the GOLD winners and the Grand Prix for excellence in rebranding and brand transformation: Pearson (Interbrand). Here you can find a video of the strategy and idead behind the multiple award winning rebrand.

The list with all the other award winners can be found on Communicate Magazine’s website. I am actually quite proud as in the Best creative strategy category the GOLD went to Larix by Romanian branding consultancy BrandTailors.  Read more about the campaign here. 

I am a huge fan of PR stunts as I think they are the pinacle of creativity in the Communications department (yes advertisers, even better than you!). Considering that I’ve been studying/working in PR for almost 5 years now, I also can’t help questioning everything that brands do in terms of why are they doing it? who is their PR agency ? what was the audience’s reaction or  what coverage did they get for it?

One of the companies that never cease to amaze me with their crazy ideas is Starbucks. Over the past week I heard of them in two different news stories, and not just at a small level, but all over the internet and in the UK press. The first one was “Starbucks bans screenwriters from all their 19,435 locations worldwide”. The news broke off in Hollywood and all sorts of media outlets went crazy. Here is the original article. Obviously the 19,435 number already signals something but if you start thinking back at all the problems screenwriters have had lately, it kinda makes sense. Also, the “Screenwriters Guild of America responded”… anyway, really good idea!

The second is the “We have a Latte with your name on it” which started out with a huge ad in the Metro, UK’s free morning newspaper. I saw the one page, A4 ad in the paper of a person next to me on the train so it caught my eye from minute one and then my Twitter feed and Facebook were full of Starbucks related messages. I didn’t get a chance to go myself as I was in a conference all day, but again, it sounds amazing!

Here are a few more stunts from Starbuck that I found tonight. They come from all over the world so if you know more please feel free to share them!

Pay it Forward 

Starbuck Paper Cup in NY

Jonathan’s Card 

Jobs for USA 

LE – I’ve just been told by Hollywood and Swine that the screenwriter thing was not a stunt started by Starbucks but it came from the parody website itself. I guess the fact that the information got to the UK in a very twisted way, kinda shows people’s skepticism when it comes to all kinds of crazy announcements made by the brands or anyone mentioning them 🙂

“There’s a quiet revolution taking place in our leading cities. Places that were once the engine room of the industrial revolution, employing millions in mills, factories, ports and shipyards, are learning new ways to create wealth in a global economy where brain has replaced brawn.” Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, 2004

As culture has been the cherry on (mostly all) my cakes for the past 4 years of academic feasts, I decided to carry on sharing my ‘a la carte’ findings aka school papers, in the event that someone, somewhere, might actually find them useful. Considering that my top blog post is “Bourdieu and The Aristocracy of Culture” with viewers from as far as Myanmar or Sierra Leone (wow!), I find myself obliged to share my ‘vast’ and ‘incredible’ knowledge with the world!

Today’s topic, in case the title and the little quote didn’t give you any clue, is cultural regeneration and post-industrial societies. For the past 30-40 years, city councils, academics, business men, maketeers and many others with a strong voice in city/area planning have been using it excessively. But is it really the panacea for al the issues of ex-industrial communities? Please click and read more… oh, and let me know what you think 🙂

Voila: essay final!

Yesterday I went to an amazing event on festivals and their evolution, organised by LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation at The Southbank Centre in London.

There were loads of points covered in a full day of talks, group discussions and presentations by both artists and festival organisers/producers (plus a delicious lunch with a brilliant view of the Thames and The London Eye). This is broadly what the event covered:

The last decade has seen a rapid growth in the number and popularity of arts festivals in the UK. No longer is the UK arts festival calendar solely dominated by Edinburgh: from Spring to Autumn across the UK there are increasingly popular grass roots festivals that celebrate local culture, large-scale music festivals that now include theatre and dance programmes, new city-wide festivals that promote place-making and civic identity and mainstream cultural institutions wrapping up their existing programme within a festival format. And in addition we are also witnessing the rise of a new type of arts festival led and programmed by artists.

Many of these festivals emerged and grew in the economic boom of the last decade, fuelled by public sector spending, corporate sponsorship and the disposable income of audiences. Now, in different economic times, how many will survive? What strategies will festival organisers need to adopt to make themselves more sustainable? Are there now opportunities for new, more collaborative festival models? What unique role do festivals play in the development of an artist’s career?

Keynote speakers:

Jude Kelly Artistic Director of The Southbank Centre

Simon Mellor Executive Director, Manchester International Festival and newly appointed Executive Director, Arts at Arts Council England.

Key contributors:

Mark Yeoman Director of the Noordezoon Festival in Groningen in The Netherlands, one of Europe’s most innovative and popular performing arts festivals

Stefan Kaegi Co-founder of the German performance collective Rimini Protokoll who recently established ‘Parallel Cities’, a mobile artist led festival taking place in cities across the world

Andy Field co-Director of Forest Fringe at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Faith Liddell Director of Festivals Edinburgh, a new organisation working on behalf of Edinburgh’s major festivals

Jennifer Cleary Head of Creative Learning, Manchester International Festival

And including a new, especially commissioned performance byTim Etchells Artistic Director of Forced Entertainment

It’s impossible to summarise the 8 hours in a few bullet points but until the videos and podcasts will be uploaded on the LIFT website, I’ll put down some ideas that kept repeating themselves throughout the day:

– it is essential that more festivals focus on the “making of new work“, give more freedom to the artists and trust them to produce something original and specially designed for that specific festival

– try to help the artists develop, collaborate and create new audiences through festival participation

– the support of the local councils is more than essential as it can completely revolutionise a festival; this doesn’t necessarily mean more funding, but networking, access to essential city stakeholders and facilities, links with the tourism department etc.

– think medium to long term when planning festivals and have a bigger impact on the city as well

– become more and more environmentally friendly, even if it means increasing costs

– know very well what your USP is and why you are putting it on (is it for the local development, for economic reasons, for artist development, for audience needs?)

– try to change things (socially, artistically…) not just reflect them by bringing same old ideas and acts

– a festival doesn’t necessarily have to become bigger every year as that doesn’t really mean better; more acts and more money in doesn’t imply more satisfied audience members

In the end, do check this amazing project: Ciudades Paralelas. Incredible idea of a festival that can be transferred to every city in the world without the hassle of set design, artists and loads of funding.

It’s been a while since I posted something valuable here but my MA, my super-active social/cultural life in London and all the travelling kept me quite busy.

To carry on from where I stopped before the holidays, here is the actual essay I wrote on arts-based learning. Please feel free to click on the document to read the entire 4000 words 🙂

The first publication of Oscar Wilde’s controversial novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, in 1890, led to an avalanche of outraged criticism due to the interpretation of its content as immoral by various Victorian critics who believed that art’s role was to educate. As a reply to the public’s reaction, Wilde rewrote some of the passages as well as added more chapters to justify his characters’ actions and to simplify the moral and philosophical messages. However, devoted to the aesthetic school of thought and therefore believing in the intrinsic values and the beauty of “art for art’s sake”, he also added a preface to the novel in which he defended the freedom of art by claiming that, as an object, it is “quite useless” because it is not meant “to instruct or to influence action in any way”, but simply to be admired and “create a mood” (Oscar Wilde, 1891:1).

In the practical, productivity oriented, industrialised world, “useless” is one of the most abominable adjectives as anything that serves no functional purpose is generally condemned by a society lost in the pursuit of capitalist value. Its association with “art”, leads therefore to the outcasting of works that have been created without a specific, practical aim and which form a field meant only to entertain through “beauty” by revealing its message to the educated viewer “but by concealing its artist” (Oscar Wilde) and especially the path to its production. However, despite the stereotypes circulating in the judgement of the twenty-first century, corporate driven world, in the “creation” of “a work of art” lies a lot more than simply scribbling words on a piece of paper, dipping a brush in coloured paint or playing an instrument. Complex thinking, planning, trial and error as well as continuous improvement through rehearsal are just a few steps of the artistic process, usually ignored even by the artists themselves, if the finalised piece fails to impress its audiences. All these could be easily deconstructed and successfully applied in a variety of other circumstances, like they have been, for example, in science, where figures such as Einstein, Feynman or Feigenbaum “have credited the arts as a source of their inspiration” (Root-Bernstein, 2000:61). The process of “making art”, rather than the works of art themselves, can help in the development of a variety of skills, feelings and thinking patterns which lead to the improvement of both the results of any daily action and the steps taken towards them.

To address the question of what exactly “art” can “teach” and what can be “learned” from it, a clear definition of what it stands for is required. Furthermore, in analysing the relationship between art and “managing”, the extensive meaning of the verb needs to be addressed as well because it can be applied to everyday life but also be associated with certain individuals within social or organisational structures. Last, but not least, to understand the extent to which the two can be linked, a discussion of what “better” management refers to and how art interacts with it is also mandatory as it can be the first step in giving directions and determining the outcomes of such collaborations.

And here is the rest: essay final

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December 2022
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