He who pays the Piper calls the tune.

Back in March of this year, I wrote an article on this blog called “What makes a good logo?“. This article spawned a comment from Alec Gray, one of my friends who is heavily involved in marketing, stating that a “Brand” is far more than a logo, it is a way in which a company both thinks and conducts its business.

Alec’s words came flooding back to me yesterday as I was in Aberdeen conducting my own personal celebrations for my 12th wedding anniversary (and you all thought that I had forgotten!). After leaving Yu’s excellent Chinese Restaurant, we walked down Union Street, which is Aberdeen’s main shopping thoroughfare, and were frankly amazed at what we saw or, rather, didn’t see.

Given that the once-in-a-lifetime event that is the Monarch’s diamond jubilee was being celebrated all across Britain (of which Scotland is still very much a part), it would seem to me that the Unionist majority on the Aberdeen City Council would have jumped at the chance to ‘rally the troops’ against the increasingly popular Nationalists by staging its own ‘Backing Britain’ campaign in Scotland’s third largest city. This is my whole point about ‘Branding’ – creating a working ethos and making the public subscribe to your company’s way of thinking, not just showing off a flashy logo.

The political makeup of the city council, after all, is currently as follows:-

Labour 17 (Unionist)

SNP 15 (Nationalist)

Lib Dems 5 (Unionist)

Independent 3 (Unknown)

Tory 3 (Unionist)

which gives a total of 25 Unionists against a maximum of 18 Nationalists, assuming that the Independents all side with the SNP (which is unlikely).

If ‘Brand Aberdeen’ were to function correctly at this politically important time, I would anticipate seeing Red, White and Blue everywhere and would expect to suffer Morrismen, Irish Dancers, Pipers and Male Voice Choirs performing on every street corner. As it was, we witnessed a (non-)spectacle that I am convinced was staged deliberately by the Nationalists.

The only bunting that I encountered during my short promenade down Union Street was a tired-looking 20 foot long string of Pink, White and Blue pennants (that looked like they had been resurrected from the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations, washed in strong bleach, and then left out in the sun to dry for the whole of the Scottish summer), outside the Royal Bank of Scotland. Other than this, nothing at all.

As we approached Union Terrace, the sound of bagpipes could be heard. No choir from the valleys, morris dancers or river dancers though – just a lone piper. Perhaps the others had been stuck at the airport? Who knows? I certainly got the distinct impression that this man was there to celebrate Scotland, and not Britain as a whole. If he was a busker, then the police certainly showed no signs of trying to move him on.

If this were not enough, we then encountered the centrepiece of the whole non-Jubilee celebration. Read on …….

Put a team of elected councillors together and ask them to come up with something that will help celebrate the Head of State’s 60th year on the throne and what to you think they would come up with? Remember that the majority of them are unionist in persuasion, representing parties that wish to keep Scotland as part of Great Britain, and you would imagine something typically ‘British’, wouldn’t you?

Not the case. It would appear that the Aberdeen City Council think that the best way to support the Diamond Jubilee and make the denizens of Aberdeen and its environs feel proud to be British is to stage an International Market!!! How’s that for lateral thinking?

Yes, it is true to say that our lone piper was there at the gateway to Union Terrace adumbrating everything that is truly French, German, Dutch, Chinese ……anything but British! Don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with the International Market, but I think that the timing of the event could have been staged a little better.

To conclude, it would appear that the SNP hold all the cards when it comes to the marketing stakes, even when they are in the minority they are able to dupe the unionist contingent of the council into staging something Un-British on the most British day that is likely to happen this century! Full marks to Mr Salmond and the gang, and the rest of the council should take a lesson from Englebert Humperdink (at least he got some marks).

Failing that, there is a company in Mintlaw that know a bit about branding. You might like to visit them for a bit of advice?

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