VisitBrighton Never Normal: For life after lockdown 2.0

VisitBrighton2020And so this is Christmas…well, not really. UK retailers might be getting the festive season off to an early start but here at the Decision Marketing Nerve Centre, we’re keeping our baubles under wraps – or at least trying to – which is easier said than done.

Besides, we are lucky to have our resident Christmas campaign aficionado Jonathan Spooner to cast his beady eye on all things festive. Last year, you may recall, he penned “the biggest Xmas TV ad review of the year”, which is definitely worth a reread.

However, Spooner is not just for Christmas, of course, he’s also consulting creative director at Spoon Creative.

So, you may ask, what delights are we covering this week? Why, with Lockdown 2.0 already under way we’re following Government advice for once and staying local for a new marketing campaign from VisitBrighton. Devised by local agency Designate, the initiative is designed to encourage Brighton residents and visitors to escape the mundanity of this year with a trip to the city, showcasing its offbeat culture.

Well, that was the plan anyway. Sadly, the new lockdown has put the kibosh on the activity for the time being; come early December it will hopefully launch with a vengeance. Come on Boris, you promised…

There are four phases to the campaign, featuring press, outdoor, digital and social media executions. The first phase targets Brighton residents, then day trippers from around the South East, followed by family and friends of residents planning an overnight stay, and finally looking to long-stay visitors and even those from overseas. (Well you never know.)

The activity is based on what makes Brighton unique, focusing on its “free-thinking nature” and unusual heritage buildings. And, in a play on “the new normal”, it runs with the strapline “Never Normal Brighton”, pointing to what makes Brighton special: the city couldn’t do normal if it tried.

The Designate team began working on the campaign during the summer, commissioning local street photographers Kevin Meredith and JJ Waller, as well as collaborating with more than 500 partners of VisitBrighton, who shared photos to use as part of the creative.

One execution features Brighton characters from the North Laines area, which has scores of independent boutiques, and states: “The North Laines, open as unsual.” Another shows the Upside Down House on the seafront, with the phrase: “Looking for the new normal? Keep Looking. Brighton is coming back to life, but if you’re looing for the new normal, you might be in the wrong place.”

VisitBrighton head of sales, marketing and partnership Julia Gallagher said: “When we saw Designate’s Never Normal concept we loved it – it’s a simple but bold idea which reflects the free-spirited atmosphere of the city.

“People love Brighton because it is a place where you can be yourself and are free to do things differently – we couldn’t do normal if we tried. As VisitBrighton we have our own ideas about what makes the city special, but we cannot wait to see what everyone else thinks makes us #NeverNormalBrighton.”

Designate executive director Adam Hill added: “We were passionate about working on this project as we’re a Brighton agency. We take a lot of pride in our city and wanted to help it get back on its feet. We understood that the people and the culture will make people want to visit much more than a traditional sunset beach shot. This campaign functions as a rallying cry and reminds us about what’s amazing about this city and celebrates it.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?

Well, we love Brighton, why else do you think we all live here? Of course, the city is not without its problems and some areas have “poshed up”, pricing many locals out of the housing market as more and more Londoners descend.

Sadly, the divide between the haves and the have nots has widened and there is still a big homeless problem, which charities such as the Clock Tower Sanctuary are working hard to address.

Nevertheless, Brighton is still quirky, unconventional, weird and wacky.

After all, over the years it has been home to King Charles II, Prince Regent, Steven Berkoff, Dora Bryan, Victor Spinetti, Nick Cave, Herbie Flowers, Captain Sensible, Julie Burchill, Chris Eubank, and David Van Day, while “The Wickedest Man In The World” Aleister Crowley was cremated at Woodvale Crematorium.

And, to be fair, this campaign does a marvellous job in showing just why Brighton still rocks, and roll on December 2.

Decision Marketing Adometer: A “see you all after lockdown” 8 out of 10

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