EDITOR’S COMMENT: New year deals all washed up in sea of apathy

’Tis the season to be jolly. Unless, that is, you’re selling some kind of millennium-focused ad space, in which case ’tis the season to be frustrated and disappointed.

’Tis the season to be jolly. Unless, that is, you’re selling some

kind of millennium-focused ad space, in which case ’tis the season to be

frustrated and disappointed.



The Media Edge last week prepared a report that confirmed what everyone

already suspected - millennium hype has not created much in the way of

special advertising demand.



Sure, British Airways has coughed up almost pounds 10 million in a

futile bid to persuade people to call the millennium wheel the British

Airways London Eye. And corporate giants such as Boots, Ford, Tesco,

Sky, BT, Marks & Spencer and McDonalds are all spending lots on Dome

sponsorship.



Vogue took pounds 2.7 million in ad revenue on its millennium issue and

doubtless Time is enjoying a boom with its Person of the Millennium

competition.



But hundreds of other ideas seem to have foundered on the rocks of

apathy.



It is not only London where proposed street parties, ice-rinks, firework

displays and light shows have failed to garner sponsorship. According to

The Media Edge, the indifference is widespread in Europe. And the more

traditional media, with the exception of a handful of magazines, have

failed to make much in the way of extra revenue from the turn of the

century.



The only surprise is that anyone is surprised. This year has been awash

with sponsorship opportunities - a hectic football schedule, a cricket

world cup and a rugby world cup - which have absorbed sponsors’

budgets.



And although The Media Edge insists that advertisers are missing a trick

by stashing those budgets under the mattress until the new year, one

can’t help thinking that they are doing the sensible thing.



First, punters don’t necessarily respond well to the branding of such

festivities (remember last year’s Oxford Street lights fiasco). Second,

the hype has been deafening and has doubtless dulled the interest of the

notoriously surly British public. Third, this is a very short-lived

event and the brand exposure is therefore minimal. Last, it is not

focused on one specific place: Greenwich, Trafalgar Square, Princes

Street, Times Square and the Chatham Islands will all claim to be the

centre of festivities, but only so many people can squeeze into any one

of these locations. In London and Edinburgh the events will inevitably

be badly organised with hundreds of transport and crowd problems - not

necessarily the kind of thing brand owners want associated with their

products.



For a minority in the UK this is a religious or spiritual festival, and

they will not appreciate too much corporate flavour. But for the vast

majority, this is going to be the mother of all piss-ups - and I’m sure

I won’t be the only one who’ll be too preoccupied and too damn high to

notice or even focus on ads.



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