Held just a week before April Fools’ Day, last night’s Nicer Tuesdays supported by Park Communications was all about pranks and hoaxes. Four speakers with very different stories to tell took to the stage at our new venue the Protein Space to regale us with tales of tomfoolery.
First up was Katrin Baumgarten, senior interaction designer at Hirsch & Mann who talked us through the agency’s work for Red Stripe tripping out an east London corner shop to become a full-blown musical instrument. She explained that although it was an amazing brief both time and money were tight, and the challenge came in creating the magic, which meant “hiding as much of the technology as you possibly can.” She also revealed that because of various practical and legal considerations the special effects could not be automatically triggered, and so she and her team holed up hidden in the shop for the duration to help create the experience.
Katrin was followed by Rebecca Broomfield of Bray Leino, an integrated communications group who worked on a massive April Fools’ stunt for Virgin Atlantic last year. Admitting that 1 April was a time for brands either “to express their personality, or pretend they have one,” she gave us a potted history of Virgin’s weird and wonderful offerings over the years. She then explained how the glass-bottomed plane stunt came about, and how simplicity, visual appeal and letting one newspaper in on the secret was the key to its success.
After the break we heard from B.T. Wilderbourne, an enigmatic “picture drawer, letter writer and troublemaker” as he puts it. He told us about an ongoing prank he played on a previous employer, born from the idea that “a company is only as sane as its most insane employee.” It involved writing a series of baffling and bewildering letters on official stationery and sending them to real clients; but as pranks go he never got to enjoy the fruits of his efforts, leaving on the day he mailed the hoax correspondence.
Finally Josh King talked about the power and possibility of seemingly silly ideas. He began by showing both good and horrendous examples of brands trying to piggyback on current news events before moving onto a prank he and his creative partner played last year. On hearing news of Alex Ferguson’s imminent retirement they put a piece of chewing gum on eBay purporting to be the Manchester United manager’s very last. Social media exploded, the press got involved and the price reached £150,000 before it was taken down. Josh explained that even though many were sceptical from the off, people appear to enjoy a spoof as long as it’s well-crafted.
Thanks to Park Communications, all our speakers and everyone who came along. Nicer Tuesdays returns in the last week of April for a fashion-inspired evening.
Founded in 1991, Park Communications is considered by many to be London’s preeminent printer. With a roster of both corporate and cultural clients, Park is a one-stop-shop to translate, artwork, print and bind literature of many different kinds, from the finest coffee table books and catalogues, through FTSE annual reports, to niche market magazines and brochures. Working closely with clients to develop bespoke creative solutions, Park’s reputation is built on the highest quality, reliability and flexibility.
They have brought their professionalism to both our Printed Pages magazine and the It’s Nice That Annual 2013, and we look forward to working with them in 2014 and beyond. To contact Park, email Alison at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the website www.parkcom.co.uk.