The world is changing rapidly. Things seem to be converging more and more as our personal lives and work lives become more intermingled. Today, we think nothing of watching a work-related video on YouTube at 10 in the morning or answering business emails at 10 at night. This is the picture for many of us who work in service industries. Traditional employment is fast becoming a thing of the past. On the positive side, the cloud and the digital tools we’ve come to take for granted offer us more independence than ever before. We’re discovering that we can take control of our own lives and futures, which is exciting. But there are also downsides to this brave new world. The aftershocks of the financial crisis are profoundly affecting the way we’re viewed by the governments and the corporations that may have provided us with traditional employment. If we have a safety net at all, it has holes that are growing larger all the time. We’re being encouraged to become more independent so that we don’t cost governments so much money. Corporations are shedding us and outsourcing so that they can save money and make more for their shareholders. In this case, we have little choice over whether we become independent or not. If we become successfully self-employed and working in the cloud we’re faced with the challenge of getting our work-life balance right. But, we’re told, the consequences of failing to get work-life right can have disastrous effects on our well-being and that of our families. We’re also in danger of becoming isolated and lonely without an office to go to and a water cooler to gather round.
But there is a third way of working and that’s ultimately what this book is about. It’s called E-Ployment. I know it works because I’m one of its pioneers. I say this simply because it’s true. I don’t necessarily have any more vision than anyone else. Along with a small group of other people, I arrived at this way of working out of necessity and not because I wanted to build an empire. (although I have to say that a modest global empire is quietly building itself.)
I wrote this book because I know that working anywhere and everywhere in the cloud offers a huge amount of freedom and massive benefits for people like us and our clients. Above all, though, I wrote it because I want to share my story and inspire you to change your life.
Reviews for E-Ployment
‘Ad agencies and marketing service companies should be extremely nervous right now about the freelance networks going out to compete with them. Networks made up of people achieving a better work/life balance, becoming more free and taking control of their own lives and future. This book tells you why they’re succeeding and how you could too.’
- Lynn Franks, Women’s Empowerment Guru, Business Women
‘There is a shifting tide in consciousness. A shift towards nurturing the whole human being in employment, a shift towards caring for their whole life. A growing number of people, employees and employers alike, are beginning to question the traditional, narrow metrics of what is means to be successful. Who is wealthier: a person who commutes an hour to work for 12 hours, and returns home to miss their baby’s bath time? Or someone who commutes to their home office, has lunch on the beach, and runs the bath themselves? This book strikes to the heart of such questions. Its time has come.’
- Simon Cohen, British social commentator and broadcaster
‘UP is inspiring and when I talk about you people say “Wow!” UP defines the new economy and is evidence that a new way of working and a conviction to be sustainable really can give you a better competitive position. Anyone thinking seriously about changing the way they work should read this book.’
Marga Hoek, visionary, author and ‘real’ businesswoman
July 4th, as we all know, is a rather special day. And for me it’s special for a couple of good reasons. Firstly it’s the day our colonial cousins mistakenly threw off the rule of mad King George and us British. It was an obvious mistake by the yanks as since then they have never managed to win anything at cricket and their football team, or soccer as they call it, is absolutely rubbish. Just think what they might have achieved. I write this knowing full well that a few of my American friends will respond with outrage at these remarks and want to correct my lack of appreciation and understanding of their own culture and what they call sports (these are generally activities that no one else in the world wants to play, so that they can declare themselves world champions). Well, a good number of Americans also don’t get irony too well either and I happen to understand the American mind rather well thanks to my American wife, who happens to be from the fine US state of Wisconsin.
Which brings me to the second, and far more important reason that July 4th is a special day. It also happens to be my wedding anniversary. Yes, we were married on independence day. Now if that isn’t irony enough for anyone call me Samuel Adams. Anyway, choosing July 4th as our wedding day seemed a good way of remembering the date – and it seems to have worked up to now. Except today. I’ve not forgotten the date, but I’m not with my dear wife, but in Amsterdam. Yes, Amsterdam I hear you say.
Now I’ve been in the Netherlands several times in the last few weeks. We have several Dutch clients and a highly active UP group here. I’ve been down to Haarlem and run a masterclass in Place Branding, given speeches – most recently at MARCOM 13 the main Dutch advertising symposium, as well as run Place Branding workshops, the last one being for the municipality of Utrecht.
Today I’m in Amsterdam as a guest of the city’s marketing group, the people behind the I amsterdam brand. I’ve been asked to give a speech to the city’s marketing partners, around five hundred people, giving an assessment of how the I amsterdam brand is really doing. It’s an intriguing question and Amsterdam is an interesting and unusual place. But I’ll come to that later.
Now, at UP we work with our Place Brand Scorecard covering the key categories when it comes to judging the important areas and assets that a place or destination has to offer – or not. For the Amsterdam presentation we decided to concentrate on only a handful of the eighteen categories.
The I amsterdam brand is one I’ve always liked a lot. It’s well crafted using strong colours and importantly it is highly visible – just Google it. Look at the neat pictures you get of tourists posing with the physical 3D models of the logotype they have built around the city at various locations – a way to bring the identity to life. The films I’ve seen for the city using the new identity are also equally engaging and nowadays, as we all know, film is key in connecting quickly with an audience and delivering a complex message simply. The verbal identity for I amsterdam could be more developed but overall the identity work is very strong.
Beginning in January 2013, Amsterdam has taken the important steps of merging its tourism and inward investment organisations into a single group. Now this is really important – to get focus with a single organisation promoting the city brand. It’s something Stockholm did early on, about the same time we launched the Capital of Scandinavia brand so it had one united brand and identity being marketed by one organisation. Makes a lot of sense.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (oh, and don’t forget the ships)
One of the real strengths Amsterdam has is its incredible – and I would even use the word enviable – geographic location. It is really at the crossroads of Europe. This has given the city a fantastic infrastructure potential with Europe’s fourth busiest airport, Amsterdam Schiphol with over 50,000,000 passengers a year and with more than 120 intercontinental connections alone. Added to this they also have a really usable rail network. Now I know the Dutch complain about their rail network all the time – and more about that little habit later – but they should go and take the train in the UK or the US … then they would really have something to complain about.
Amsterdam also has a large and busy port, and on top of this, an extensive although heavily congested road network.
Importantly they are connected in another equally important way as well.
One thing I look for, personally, in cities when I visit is great and free broadband access and Amsterdam is digitally turned on. At UP we depend on being online and having free access to digital where-ever we are and thankfully more and more places are falling in line with that mentality. Well Amsterdam is a really wired city. You get one hour free wi fi usage at the airport, my hotel had super fast, and free, wi fi and all this is powered by the Amsterdam Internet Exchange, AMSIX, making the Netherlands one of the most digitally connected places on earth. Now that’s my kind of place.
When it comes to being a tourist and having things to do, see and visit, I really like the choice on offer in Amsterdam. It has around 100 museums and more than 70 art galleries. Top of the list of museums is the recently re-opened and spectacular Rijksmuseum, with, not far behind, the Anne Frank House and Museum. The city also has great shops, restaurants and of course the coffee shops. Interestingly if you go in the coffee shops expecting to see locals puffing away, the only people in there seem to be foreign tourists. The city also has a large number of festivals, mostly with only a domestic audience focus, and it does seem like there’s an opportunity to bring these festivals together under one umbrella and create a stronger, more international package. Look to Edinburgh I say.
The other thing I like about Amsterdam as a tourist is that its very walkable, you can really get around the centre on foot easily but if you do have to go a little further there are always the trams. High marks for tourism.
We live and work most of our lives in buildings. Architecture can fundamentally affect how we feel about life and certainly our cities. Amsterdam has a really interesting mix when it comes to architecture with strong urban renewal redevelopment, an interesting but a rather eclectic mix of modern architecture, such as the Muziekgebouw and the spectacular new film museum the Eye Film Institute. And of course there is also classic Amsterdam with the canals and canal houses, dating back some four hundred years, and on a sunny day, when the sun is actually out, it is simply wonderful.
Positioning is the Issue
So, Amsterdam has a lot going for it – is everything perfect? Well, no. I believe they have some issues and one in particular. And it’s called positioning. What do they stand for? What slot in people’s brain does the Amsterdam brand hold?
In the July 2013 edition, the magazine Monocle ranked Amsterdam at number 22 in their Livable Cities benchmarking. Having listed the above assets the city has, as a result, I’d say that was rather disappointing. Apart from some gripes about the quality of hotels and the time it took to renovate the Rijksmuseum the main issue Monocle had with Amsterdam was to do with the drugs laws. The magazine said: ‘The now shelved plan to ban foreigners from buying cannabis should be revisited. It might hurt tourism in the short term but reform could give the city a chance to redefine itself on its merits – as a beautiful, highly cultural urban space,’ In this remark I there is a clue as to the repositioning issue Amsterdam needs to consider.
Tulips to Prostitutes
And this brings me to my earlier remark that Amsterdam is an unusual place. At UP we recently ran a focused piece of research on Amsterdam. We asked a small, but international sample of people, to answer one simple question. Use just one word to define Amsterdam.
Now what was interesting was that everyone asked wanted or needed to use more than a single word and, overall, the response was very consistent. They would mention either canals, bikes or tulips as one of the words – but then also would want to mention drugs and or prostitution as a second word. And that’s what makes Amsterdam unusual. This mental mix of things that the city stands for. Everything from tulips to prostitutes. Again an eclectic mix.
Re-positioning. The Stockholm example.
In my mind, Amsterdam needs to consider how it wants to re-define or re-position itself. The city needs to take real action to change its image by either making real changes when it comes to the issues of drugs and prostitution, or they need to reposition themselves in a way that embraces their free and open culture and creates a larger, even stronger proposition in people’s minds. Not easy stuff, but the choice is theirs to make.
When we worked on the Stockholm branding work, back in 2003, we quickly concluded, based on the research available, that Stockholm needed to find a focus. Some way of finding a position for itself.
Stockholm is one of the most beautiful cities on earth – but that alone is not enough – there are plenty of beautiful cities in the world.
The city had marketed itself in the past but had chopped and changed it’s focus. One moment it was all about ITC, the next it was saying it was Venice of the North, or Gateway to the Baltic Sea Region. The brand lacked consistency and persistence.
After taking in the various inputs from the research we had, the moment came where we had to start to draw some conclusions. First, we had to decide how we wanted to position Stockholm in the marketplace we were competing in and secondly, decide on what our business proposition would be.
Such business propositions don’t need to be long wordy documents, in fact, they are better short and concise, and
preferably able to be written on the back of a napkin – which is exactly what we did.
For Stockholm the proposition we felt was simply that it was the most important place in Scandinavia. For business and for tourism.
Once that idea had been anchored, it was just a case of delivering a creative execution of that proposition to bring it to life in a nano second. Stockholm the Capital of Scandinavia was born.
The moment the line had been written it resonated. It was bold, simple and just a little provocative – or Kaxig as they say in Sweden. Everything a strong, creative, brand idea should be.
Amsterdam needs to consider something equally strong to really move the discussion on from hash and hookers. It has a strong tradition and culture of freedom and the discussion and thinking should probably start there. One interesting observation, I’ve always seen the Swedes and Dutch as sharing many characteristics and traditions. Both have very free and open societies, both would be classified as liberal and yet on the subject of prostitution they could not be further apart in their viewpoints.
A couple of additional observations regarding Amsterdam. I think a good deal more focus needs to be put on working internally with the people of Amsterdam themselves. An effort needs to be made to make them realise just what a great city Amsterdam is. I think it’s in the Dutch character to complain a bit, but I think they also need to shake off their protestant burden of not wanting to appear to be too good or stand out too much or be too proud of their city (this is very similar to the Swedish Jantelagen and Norwegian Janteloven in this respect).
Service is also an area where they seem to be a bit lacking. I’m not sure there is a true service mentality in the culture and that needs to be looked at when the positioning work is really examined. Where do they want to pitch Amsterdam in the future? Is it a backpackers paradise with budget hotels and Airbnb accommodation, with coffee shops providing a place to puff, or is it a more upmarket high value destination?
I like Amsterdam a lot. It has a huge number of assets. It has personality and, importantly, a feel of authenticity. I’m glad I was here the 4th of July – I just sent a message to my wife saying, Darling – Wish You Were Here.
Am I positive to Amsterdam? Yes, I am.
Julian Stubbs is an international brand strategist with UP THERE, EVERYWHERE, the global cloud based agency. He primarily works with cities, places and destinations in developing brand strategies and identities. His first book, Wish You Were Here is available on Amazon.com
Copenhagen is losing out to Stockholm when it comes to inward investment.
Between 2006 and 2009 Copenhagen attracted just seven global companies, whilst Stockholm attracted 23. This article, Fighting for the Lead in Øresund Magazine, admits Copenhagen has been losing the battle for investment as companies flock north to Stockholm. I believe some fundamental mistakes were made in the approach and process used in developing the brand positioning, selection of the wrong brand (Øresund – where’s that etc?) and also the wrong positioning. The Øresund brand, developed by Wally Olins at considerable cost, has now been dumped, but will Copenhagen / Malmö region be able to develop a strong new brand and strategy?
And now Copenhagen has a new problem – Oslo. The city is getting itself geared up to stake-out its own positioning and Oslo Gardermoen airport is rapidly catching Copenhagen Kastrup as Scandinavia’s number one airport in passenger numbers- and we all know companies put accessibility at the top of their wish list when it comes to selection of places as potential locations.
Seems like things are getting interesting.
Source: Statistics Øresund Magazine.
I’m lucky enough to be visiting one of my favourite cities in the world – Liverpool. I’m here meeting some of the people behind the branding of the city and carrying out some research for my next book on Place and Destination branding.
Now, not only do I love the local football team, but I also love this Victorian port city built on the banks of the river Mersey. It was once the commercial gateway for the British Empire, home of The Beatles, two cathedrals and a famous football team (or two depending on your point of view).
However, in the last seventy or so years, Liverpool has seen difficult times. Being heavily bombed in the second world war and then devastated by recession during the 1970s, has made it a city with true grit. The city has refocused itself in recent years, making significant investments in a massive urban renewal programme. In 2008 the city was rewarded by being named European Capital of Culture. Walk the streets of the city and you realise Liverpool still has a way to go but it is now heading in a confident new direction.
Liverpool is part of a wider region called Merseyside and according to Liverpool Vision, the organisation behind the Liverpool 2008 brand, there has always been confusion when talking to external and international audiences about Merseyside. Liverpool Vision recognised the strength they had in the city of Liverpool and developed it as an attack brand to help market the whole region. Liverpool did not have its own strong brand identity up to that point. However being Capital of Culture gave it an opportunity to create a new brand for that year. There was a need to ensure that the positive work the region had started, was then continued after the year as Capital of Culture, so new branding work was required.
The city saw stakeholder involvement as a key part of their work. Liverpool already had an influential group called Liverpool First – a group of important stakeholders consisting of major businesses, governmental organisations, public sector agencies, as well as representatives from voluntary and community groups. These groups all worked together to discuss important issues about the area. It was Liverpool First who commissioned Liverpool Vision to develop the new brand. Therefore stakeholder engagement was already achieved.
Leveraging the city’s strength
Research established that the city had an impressive number of icons to leverage in developing the city’s new brand identity. As well as worldwide strengths associated with The Beatles and football, Liverpool is recognised as a city on the up.
Extensive regeneration projects combined with warm welcoming people and a unique waterfront, helps it to stand out over other northern UK cities and destinations. A new brand logotype was developed along with launch events and a new web site, all of which were supported by a media campaign and extensive PR work that encouraged local businesses to use the new brand image in their own advertising.
It’s still early days for the Liverpool brand, but the city has already seen success in companies working with their new identity and downloading it from their website. The question is now what comes next. Brands are about more than just logotypes and Liverpool has to re-asses its role not just in a northern UK cities context, or even a UK one, but more importantly as a world class city.
I believe Liverpool is a city on the UP, and I think it’s best days are yet to come.
Check out the Liverpool brand at:
This blog is mostly reproduced from Wish You Were Here the first book on Place and Destination branding by Julian Stubbs. Wish You Were Here Too will be out in Spring 2014.
Wish You Were Here on Amazon:
My mother, who is 86, slammed the phone down yesterday on her well known UK bank after being transferred to some foreign call centre. Was it because my Mother doesn’t like foreigners? Well actually no not at all. She objected to her bank, which positions itself as English, not living up to what it promises. Being English. Doubtless the bank in question would say it has to do with lower costs, improved service blah blah blah. Rubbish. It’s just penny pinching and losing sight of what their brand is all about.
Over the years I remember sitting in a few meetings, with heads of marketing, communication and even senior managers, where they proclaim – almost proudly – that ‘Where we are located doesn’t matter. We want to be seen as global‘.
What a load of tosh. The fact is where you come from often makes you what you are. More importantly it can provide a real differentiator when it comes to positioning and actually saying something authentic about yourselves. Pity a few more senior execs in anonymous global conglomerates didn’t understand that. They often talk about being different, and then deny one of the most important elements that helps makes them so.
I read in this mornings FT that Bottega Veneta, the maker of posh handbags, had seen revenues rise by a third and were making more money than ever. CEO Marco Bizzarri said ‘For us Made in Italy is so important.’ He continues ‘We’ve found that as long as our quality is maintained the customers are willing to pay a premium.’ Just a fluke? Take a look at the automobile sector, where having a premium brand with the German engineering stamp on it adds value and customer loyalty.
Be proud of where you come from. Place matters.
In Cannes for MIPIM the world’s leading real estate development event. Giving a speech here today at the Palais des festivals, on the Branding of Cities. Will be on the Oslo stand, with Oslo’s governing Mayor Stian Berger Røsland, talking about the work we are doing at UP with the city’s branding process.
Oslo is a fascinating city with very much its own pulse. It’s a place going through rapid change and it’s now examining its identity. Like all places it needs to find its own positioning and that is what we’ve been asked to look at. It’s not about slogans – it’s about developing a long term strategy and process that builds a strong positioning.
We’re obviously delighted to be asked to be involved in this project and I think the extent of the media coverage we’ve been given in the national newspaper Aftenposten as well as on radio, shows the strength of the interest locally.
UP FOR REAL is the new Place Branding focused organisation within UP THERE, EVERYWHERE.
Yahoo has announced it is taking measures to ban its staff from “remote” working. After years of predicting working from home as the future for everybody, why has this high tech company taken this step?
“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.” says the memo from the Yahoo! HR department.
Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson, who spends much of his time working on Necker Island in the Caribbean, was quick to respond calling it a “backwards step in an age when remote working is easier and more effective than ever”.
I like to think of us at *UP as pioneers of remote working with over 130 people working remotely around the world – so we know a thing or two about it.
I used to spend up to three hours a day in my car driving to and from work. I’d sit in an office with a large number of other people who had all done pretty much the same commute. It dawned on me that there had to be a better and more productive way of working in this new digital age. I’m truly baffled by Yahoo’s! announcement – I think they’ve lost their way. Maybe they should change their logotype to Yahoo? It seems a very odd move, for a supposedly high tech company’.
What makes *UP so different? You won’t find any fancy offices or executive creative directors. *UP works with distributed project teams, assembling senior level ‘doers’ to meet each client’s needs after a careful input and evaluation session. Team members may be located in the client’s home city, or halfway around the world.
One of the keys might be that the majority of *UP people have worked together in the past either at agencies or as clients. We’re extremely selective and careful in who we allow to join and having a past shared experience better enables us to work successfully without sitting in the same physical room. *UP There, Everywhere is already working with a number of clients in the US, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, USA, UK and Switzerland. Global Connected Co-operative Communities
We believe that Connected Co-operative Communities working through the cloud
will make major changes to the working patterns of people around the world. *UP There, Everywhere is one of the very first of these to be put together in such an organised and truly international fashion. Our mission is to help change the way the world works. It’s a big mission, but we believe one that is now possible with the tools we have available.
And if that new way could address CO2 emissions and its effect on climate change, then all the better. *UP There, Everywhere has emerged as part of that totally new way of working. The dream of teams of people working remotely has been around a while, but only now, with today’s technology and applications, is that dream becoming a reality.
The focus at *UP is on delivering creative and brand services that helps clients, especially those in “high involvement” or ”considered purchase” areas, to develop brand strategies, identities and communications that reflect today’s global market, digital communications and cross-cultural thinking. At *UP we form client teams based on needs, location, language, market experience and other factors. *UP members use online technology, including project management tools through sites such as Base Camp, Drop Box, Skype, iChat and Facebook groups. Without the overhead of offices and formal employees, *UP has developed a completely new business model, while offering a highly experienced, diverse team of experts with international work experience.
*UP is working with a number of international clients, such as The Nobel Peace Prize Concert, the branding assignment for the city of Oslo, Dako Cancer Diagnostics and Science magazine in Washington DC among many others. In its first full financial year the company passed a million euros in sales and is growing strongly.
It’s not often these days we get a chance to really get off the beaten track. Well I’m lucky enough to be doing just that. I’m visiting the Faroe Islands, having been asked to give some thoughts on how this group of 18 islands could market themselves more effectively.
First question a number of my friends ask is ‘where are the Faroe Islands exactly?’ Some even mistakenly think its somwhere down by the Falkland Islands. Well no, there is no imminent threat of invasion by Argentina – not unless the Argentine army gets particularly badly lost. The Faroes are actually located midway between Norway, Iceland and the tip of Scotland, in the middle of the Atlantic. Indeed it’s the rugged location that has made this place what it is. Flying into the small but modern Vagur Airport you’re treated to a close up view of fjords, mountains and small remote coastal villages. It’s thrilling. And nothing pepares you for the freshness that hits you the moment you step from the plane. You realise you are really in the mid atlantic.
One of the charms of the Faroe Islands is the down to earth nature of the place. My hire car was rented through a smaller local company and after having made payment online (actually via paypal) I was sent a mail telling me my car would be in the short term car park, keys in the glove box and good luck! As I said charming.
The drive to Torshaven is dramatic, full of mountain passes and deep subsea tunnels. The engineering alone is impressive. The scenary on the drive is ever changing as is the weather and the light. Thankfully the roads are good and within an hour I arrive at the best hotel on the islands, the Hotel Føroyar, which also happens to have the best restaurant on the Faroes as well- Koks. On my second night I’m treated to a truly stunning eight course meal (four starters, two main courses and two desserts) and each course is accompanied by carefully chosen wines and even a beer. If you visit the Faroe Islands, you don’t need to eat poorly.
Art, culture and music is a big topic in the islands. Check out the G Festival, which is held every July and billed as the most unique music festival on earth. If you get a chance take some time and listen to the music of Eivør Pálsdóttir and Gudrid Hansdottir. Enchanting.
So how would I sum the Faroes up? Well firstly it’s a lot closer than you think. It’s just a two hour flight from Copenhagen airport, with the local airline Atlantic Airways. In terms of what the Faroe Islands offer, it’s a place that goes beyond the imagination and senses. It’s special.
Worth a visit? Absolutely.
Thanks to my oldest son, I have become hooked, as it were, on the hit AMC television show Breaking Bad.
The show is set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and follows the story of Walter White, a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman, with the aim of securing his family’s financial future before he dies. It’s compelling viewing – but aside from being a great show what is the impact on the setting – Albuquerque, New Mexico. It presents the city in an interesting yet contrasting light: on the one hand being very middle class America, swimming pools and suburbia and on the other as a hotbed of drug dealing, crime and Mexican cartels. It also shows the consequences, which are sometimes utterly appalling, of the choices the characters make. But, from a place branding perspective, is it good or bad for Albuquerque? Would I want to live there or even visit?
But what about the power of television and film?
I have a theory. New York City cops act the way they do because they have seen how New York cops act in the movies. Similarly, film and television can have a huge impact on how a destination acts in terms of their marketing activities.
In a marketing sense, nothing can have as great an impact on a Destination Brand than careful usage of mass media, especially film and television. When we visit cities such as London, New York, San Francisco we more or less know what to expect based on the media picture we have been influenced by. As a kid I watched programmes like The Odd Couple, Streets of San Francisco, Kojak and Bergerac. Films like Bullitt, Puppet on a Chain, Notting Hill and any of the James Bond movies all brought destinations and places to life in vivid technicolor. It made me want to live in New York, visit San Francisco and travel the world. That’s the impact of film and TV on our lives.
UK tourism has enjoyed a huge boost from increased visitor numbers to TV and film locations such as The Da Vinci Code, Gosford Park and Balamory. Frighteningly, I am told 20% of Americans visiting Scotland do so because they’ve seen Braveheart. The Harry Potter films alone have led to a 120% increase in visitor numbers to Ainwick Castle in Northumberland, a significant increase in tourism to the region.
So what about Breaking Bad? With its seedy plot of drugs and crime is it good or bad for Albuquerque?
In some respects the sage advice of P.T. Barnum, the great American showman, could apply: ‘I don’t care what they say about me, just make sure they spell my name right!’
“When Breaking Bad began airing five seasons ago, we were less than thrilled by the subject matter, which is based on a fictional character and story,” says Dale Lockett, head of the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau. But given its popularity, “people are traveling to our city to see the locations featured in the show and then spending time at our attractions, restaurants and hotels,” he adds.
One local tour operator, the ABQ Trolley Co., added a three-hour, $60 per person Breaking Bad tour timed to the shows season premiere – and promptly sold out all seven scheduled departures.
Without doubt it seems whatever the subject matter, TV and film are powerful mediums for locations and places. Added to that its a compelling TV show.
John Simmons, of the UK based writers group Dark Angels, asked me if I minded being tagged as part of a project called “The Next Big Thing” by the Scottish writer Kate Tough. The project is a way of spreading news around of what writers are up to in their writing lives by blog, facebook, twitter, email. Basically each writer who is tagged has to answer ten questions regarding their next personal writing assignment.
Here is John’s blog on the topic. http://www.26fruits.co.uk/blog/blogberry/the-next-big-thing/
Here’s a link to Kate Tough’s site
Anyway, here are my ten answers to ten questions regarding my next writing project:
What is the working title of your next book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Working on a clients brief a few years ago. It was for a very well known denim jeans brand and I came across the phrase Stockholm Syndrome at the time and for fun wrote a radio play around the idea. Then I put it on the shelf for five years.
What genre does the book fall under?
A black comedy / thriller.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? Actually someone like Robbie Williams, the singer – never seen him act- but he has the right ego and chemistry. For the female lead it’s a Swedish version of Julia Roberts – about the age she was in Pretty Woman.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
An advertising man’s personal life, career and business falls apart in a single day and he has six days to fix it- and ends up changing his whole life and beliefs. Oh – and he ends up saving the world.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Much prefer self published- why hand over responsibility to people who are largely redundant nowadays.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
For the book version – about two months- started it when I took off for a round the world trip in January and February 2010.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Adventures of Goodnight And Loving – Leslie Thomas. Love that book.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There’s a big love interest- the whole plot takes place in Stockholm Sweden and there’s a major international crisis going on at the same time.