Boris Johnson & McFly share the same gig ... at St Pancras International! - Monday March 7
Every now and then a PR team come along who really know how to create almost surreal promotional events that appeal across the age groups and demographics and which really stick in the mind - which, surely, is a big part of the whole point of PR.
Up to 2004 Virgin West Coast had this licked.
Denize Quest and her team cooked up more launches for the Pendolino than any train decently deserves. I'm still not sure how many there were - but I think I went to all of them. The most memorable was an event at the Old Dalby test track during pre-service commissioning when the first one to run at 100mph in this country gave us all a short ride. But that's not why it was memorable.
No, it was memorable because of the dome-shaped revolving tent which spun an audience of a couple of hundred, in tiered seating, all around before a canvas side dropped to reveal a '390' shooting out of a tunnel whilst some Red Arrow lookalikes screamed overhead. As this tent whirred into life and started to spin the entire floor to face the tunnel, and the side started to lower, it wouldn't have surprised me to have seen Richard Branson languishing in a leather armchair, wearing a monocle, stroking a white cat and saying: "No Mr Bond - I expect you to die!"
The drama of the moment was rather undermined, it has to be said, by the sudden pungent smell of manure, however. The local farmer, believing the Prime Minister to be present had decided to spread the vilest muck he could find in the neighbouring field as some kind of protest. I also seem to recall a big row in the media tent between Branson and a lady journalist about how it was now unfashionable for buxom blondes to leap from large imitation cakes...it was a very odd day. But memorable, as you can tell. I was just leaving as she yelled at him that he was risking turning into Peter Stringfellow.
Anyway, back to Thursday night. The RAIL crown for gobsmacking PR events that you never thought anyone would dream up now goes to High Speed 1/LCR comms supremo Ben Ruse - who put one hell of a gig together last night at St Pancras International. I won't say too much about it because the photographs and video clips below, courtesy of the good old iPhone, give a flavour of the proceedings. It was all staged from 1730 to mark the unveiling of a massive set of Olympic rings, up in the roof, in front of the clock, as part of the 2012 countdown.
There was a local girls gospel choir who were brilliant and a girl singer from Teenage Rampage who seemed incredibly nervous - but they both kept us entertained whilst we waited for the stars of the show, at 1830. The headliners were, of course, Lord Sebastian Coe (who Boris introduced, I suspect not for the first time, as 'The Lord of the Rings' himself), London Mayor Boris Johnson himself - of course - who delivered a cracking speech with two great funny moments. One involved the expression 'look and feel' (I'll let you discover it yourself in the video clips) while the other was a triumphant statement of pride that the rings would be the first thing our French friends would see when stepping onto English soil from the Eurostar, as a reminder that Paris lost out to London in winning the games!
He is such a class act is our Boris. Would that we had more politicians like him.
And to wrap up the show, Ben had booked the two front men (Tom Fletcher and Danny Jones) from former teen band McFly who did an unplugged set of half a dozen songs that really rocked the place on a very cold night. And as the event was held in a loosely roped-off area around the Betjeman statue, several hundred dashing homeward bound commuters stopped to join in the fun from just a few feet away. So Boris and Mcfly on the same bill, as said at the head of this piece, totally surreal - and wonderful PR.
It was a very proud moment to see those huge Olympic rings (6.5m in diameter, for each ring) hanging in the roof and a genuine pleasure to be present at such an imaginative, fun and memorable press event. Well done Ben and team for staging such a great 'do.' That's the way to do it.
Anyway, hope you enjoy the pictures and video clips, which give a flavour of what went on.