Gone With The Wind

Marketing. It’s a massive part of business, and of life in general. Anyone using the internet will face a barrage of marketing on a daily basis, and it’s usually a mild annoyance. Marketing isn’t always about directly making money, sometimes it’s about creating and enforcing a brand image. That’s not as annoying, sometimes it can be quite cool.

The council of my home town have recently decided to sell the naming rights to one of it’s most impressive and recognisable landmarks, The Spinnaker Tower, to Emirates Airline. With the city set to host the Americas Cup World Series in the next few weeks. there’s an opportunity for this tower to be seen by the world. To the annoyance of many in the city that means marketing is a big part of this deal, and this once purely white tower will soon be getting a large lick of red paint.

One of the first reasons people objected to the design was because the tower sits in the city of Portsmouth, yet this red and white colour scheme is shared with Portsmouth’s rival football club, Southampton FC. Although the tower is nothing to do with the football club, many fans are mortified that a city landmark visible for many miles will be adorned with their rivals colours. The fact that Southampton supporters are taking great pleasure in this means Portsmouth’s fans worries are probably well placed.

Whether you agree with these supporters arguments or not, they are quite valid. Football is a huge part of peoples lives and communities, and the council not taking this into consideration when making such big decisions will no doubt feel like a huge slap in the face. But it’s not just down to the council. Emirates are involved in British football, they should understand this point of view. Even Arsenals Emirates Stadium doesn’t feature such a bold colour scheme, and their club colours are red.

I don’t follow football much, but I still don’t like the idea of this tower being painted bright red for my own reasons. The tower sits in a position where it can be seen for many miles across the Solent and beyond. I regularly travel around this area. Even when I’m miles from home I can look across the sea and see the Spinnaker Tower standing tall. I never think of Football, I feel no sense of pride in a city, and I never see a billboard. I see a beacon of home. A large beautiful and neutral structure. Controversial in it’s own right, but a reminder that every now and then people can build something amazing. When looking for a big tourist attraction, a big concrete tower would have done the job, But instead there’s a large white sail standing proud on the skyline.

The people of Portsmouth feel like they own this tower. That’s partly a matter of pride, and partly because they paid for it. When the tower was originally built, the city got a say on the design. To a lot of people throwing some cheap branding on it is no different to someone slapping cheap branding on their house. Even worse is that this time no one’s been allowed a say on it. Maybe that’s because the political party running the city has changed, maybe it’s just that times have changed. maybe all that matters now is money.

Don’t get me wrong, the money is good, this deal is set to bring in around three and a half million for the local council. That doesn’t mean you just sell out your soul. You don’t pocket a few million and let a big business run riot over the city. Another argument was that this sponsorship deal would bring welcome attention to the city, joining us with a premier brand which it has. But that’s still not a good enough response. The first designs for the tower don’t look like the product of a premier brand at all.

Google Emirates Airline and look at their planes. They look nice. A splash of their national colours and some elegant gold writing. Ruined by the large chunk of red paint on the belly. I’m not saying don’t paint the tower at all, I’m just saying demand better. A white tower with subtle touches of gold would be pretty cool. I’m sure most people would have a better idea than throwing a tin of red dulux at it.

When that tower was built we didn’t go for the quickest or the easiest, so why do we accept anything less than perfection now.

Here’s hoping someone can try a little harder.



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