CREATIVE STRATEGY: National Trust rediscovers the joys of childhood
By Simon S Kershaw, brandrepublic.com, Wednesday, 09 May 2012 01:55PM
I've always had a love/hate relationship with the National Trust. This is based on extensive experience. Since I could walk, perhaps even before then, I was taken round every stately home, castle and ruin in north-west England and beyond.
No doubt this contributed to my love of history. But as a young adult I also came to despise the National Trust's apparent lack of imagination and its pandering to a certain demographic. If, as someone said, the Church of England is the Tory party at prayer, then the National Trust was ever the playground of the middle-aged, middle-class, middle-Englander.
The uniform goods in the gift shops said it all – little bags of lavender, chintzy aprons and nostalgia-laden books on rural life. And I vividly recall my late father railing at those pathetic plastic micro-pots of milk in the cafe of Erdigg, an early 18th-century country house near Wrexham.
"Look", he bellowed. "There’s a cow right there!" And indeed, a live source of milk was grazing in the nearest field.
But in recent years, the National Trust seems to have rid itself of a few institutionalised cobwebs. Like the rest of the heritage industry, it now strives to broaden its appeal and state its relevance – indeed, its very right to exist at all.
This can lead to some bizarre initiatives, as when English Heritage decide to rewrite all its information boards in a language and type size to accommodate the lowest of lowest common denominators. That's not inclusive, it's patronising.
For contrast, take a look at this leaflet for the National Trust. At its heart is a simple idea that pokes fun at all those "bucket list" books. The headline reads: "50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4".
It's like a celebration of childhood joys, sponsored by the National Trust. My personal fave on the list is "Bury someone in the sand". Copy is consistently charming, art direction appropriately hand-made.
In an era of PC-ness and health and safety gone madder than a mad thing, how refreshing to see the National Trust actively encouraging children to climb trees, play conkers, light fires and go abseiling.
Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones
This article was first published on brandrepublic.com
- Account Manager (ALL MEDIA) Dot-Gap £35k, London (Central), London (Greater)
- Digital Marketing Planner Dot-Gap Competitive, London (Greater)
- Affiliate Account Manager Dot-Gap £25k , London (Central), London (Greater)
- Media Operations Executive Dot-Gap £25k , London (Central), London (Greater)
- Account Director: Liverpool Blue Skies Marketing Recruitment £40000 - £45000 per annum, Liverpool
- Google's European leader says viewing habits are 'changing dramatically'
- Tesco media review pits Initiative against MediaCom and ZenithOptimedia
- Martin Sorrell talks Maurice Lévy, Tesco, and the global outlook
- Land Rover to move global ad account into Spark44
- Viacom to bring Breaking Bad to Freeview with Spike launch
- 'Advertisers are snake oil salesmen', says Peter Oborne