Media Perspective: The Ashes unites us and shows media to its best advantage
By Ivan Pollard, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 28 August 2009 12:00AM
England won the Ashes. We won the Ashes. We were triumphant in a two-horse race, in a best-of-five series, thanks to a couple of dubious decisions, against a country that has one-third our population and it makes all the headlines. And quite right too.
But why is this? It isn't that important, surely?
Of course it is. It has historical significance dating back to 1882 and is tied up with colonialism, the Empire and gentlemanly pursuits. It represents the very quintessence of long summer days, of being a schoolboy (and maybe a schoolgirl too - although not as the same person), of understanding the arcane, of the paradox of the most meaningful meaninglessness that sport is capable of.
For a large number of English people, there is a straight line from Arlott to P'tang, Yang, Kipperbang, through Boycott to Beefy Botham, to Freddie and Brett Lee to last weekend. And it all joins together into something bizarrely meaningful. They lift the country and get us excited.
Two important observations can be drawn from this recent event as they have a bearing on what we all do in this vaunted profession of ours. First, the reason that the Ashes has such gravity is that it is one of the few things that brings the country together, unites us, gives us all a common purpose and a common topic of conversation. The very best advertising and communication campaigns do the same thing. From "Run London" to "Liverpool Street"; from the Honey Monster to the Smash Martians; from 118 118 to 007. They all give us something to do, something to talk about, something to share and something to look forward to.
The second interesting parallel is to do with the media. It is a modern pastime to dwell on the imminent demise of traditional media but when something like the Ashes comes along, it gives you a powerful reminder that the rumours of its death are exaggerated. Old media happily coexist with the newer forms of communication to provide a richer, deeper experience for the consumer.
For example, over the four days of the final Ashes Test match, I followed the game on TV, on the radio, in the newspapers, on my BlackBerry, on Sky Player and in blogs generating comment from Croatia to Cronulla. Each interaction with the game gave me an update on the match served up with a different, delightful flavour at each stroke. Surely this is just what constructing a modern communications campaign is all about? Using the old and the new and getting the best from each.
The Ashes did it and get ready for the Fifa World Cup in South Africa to do it again next year ... because England is going to win that too.
- Russell Davies is away.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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