Ok, I may have just made it up but these people actually exist. They’re Londonders that pop out in late April (earlier if we are lucky enough for an Easter heat wave) wearing brand new Nike Flyknits and Stella’s latest Adidas collection.
“Hi I’m Harri and I’m a seasonal sportie” and not only that but 2/3 of people here at GR towers are exactly the same.
A compulsion to don Lycra and run has swept over the office and the GR clan are embracing a summer of training. Most are doing it for the Run to the Beat half marathon but others are doing it to just get fit with friends. Being a Sports Science graduate (snigger if you will but I can name every muscle in the body, pretty useful in quiz situations I tell you!) means I can ramble on about how sport is good for not just your physique but your mental wellbeing too but it’s great to see that last year’s sporting glow created by the Olympics hasn’t quite burnt out in London town.
The great thing about our capital is that sport is not limited to crazy people who run 26.2 miles for fun. London provides plenty of opportunity for those who are unfit and clumsy to participate and enjoy sport, why not get a rush of endorphins with these activities?
Happening in both London (14th July) and Manchester (21st July) the Color Run is known as the most happy 5km available (yes you can tell the American’s created it). A couple of GR’ers are taking part so expect to see some colourful photos in the next few weeks.
Remember: If you can dodge a wrench you can dodge a ball? Why not give this American classic a go and unleash your inner White Goodman. Go Mammoth is the biggest dodgeball league in the UK and welcomes newbies!
This Saturday is London’s annual naked bike ride. The event should be a real ‘crack’ up kicking off at 3.30pm in Hyde Park and celebrates all things liberal, natural and environmentally friendly. Naked Cycling Day is a worldwide celebration with various cities across the globe celebrating it but If you do decide to go au natural don’t be a boob and apply sun cream copiously.
*GR does not encourage being naked in public. Only on a bike for national naked bike riding day
Heck if all else fails beer pong will always be there for you. Ok so not technically a sport but some skill is definitely required, these funky tournaments are held every fortnight and a £30 bar tab is up for grabs.
We owe a lot to the Japanese. They’ve brought us the first digital camera, the calculator, high speed passenger trains and CDs. But now there’s one more concept they’ve brought to our shores– the pet café. A massive trend in the East, these cafés are built for animal lovers who live in city centre apartments or work long hours but are unable to keep pets.
They sell the usual snacks and offer a relaxing environment to drink coffee, meet with friends or pick up a bite to eat. However they’re also home to up to 15 cats or dogs… and have been designed to help customers feel more relaxed, letting them enjoy a temporary pet owning experience. There are plenty of studies that show owning a pet can make you happier and less stressed. Have you ever walked past a sausage dog or a cute cat and not smiled? Exactly.
Whilst there are up to 40 cat cafés in Tokyo, London has been slow to catch on with the first cat café set to open in East London (of course) imminently. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium has been set up by cat lover Lauren Pears and is raising the capital needed to open its doors through crowd funding - the collective effort of similar cat loving individuals who have pooled their money to help get the project off the ground.
Founder Lauren said: “I think Brits will take to it. Lots of people live in small flats or their working lives make it impractical to keep pets. It’s not just about being able to play with the cats. It’s about the whole experience. Come in from the cold to a comfortable wingback chair, a hot cup of tea, a book, and a cat.”
According to Lauren, the concept is not only to provide urbanites with the animal affection they are denied, but to give abandoned cats a loving, comfortable home that they may otherwise miss out on.
Visitors can pop in for a pat for £5 or sponsor the home for up to £20,000, although unsurprisingly none of these packages have been sold to date.
Soon after news broke about Lady Dinah’s, a sausage dog café announced that plans were in the pipeline to open similar haven for dog lovers in Brixton. Set up by a combination of artists, dog lovers and baristas they are hoping to create a completely unique experience for guests. This place will hold creative workshops, have a knitting corner and allow visitors to take the dogs for short walks once it has raised the £55,000 it needs to launch.
Whilst I’m intrigued by the concept of pet cafes, I find their crowd-sourcing roots even more fascinating. Indiegogo (www.indiegogo.com) is a crowdsourcing platform that launched in 2008 with the aim of democratising funding. In the last five years it has made all sorts of businesses possible, and has even raised enough money to give a Congalese pastor a kidney transplant. It’s certainly a great concept, enabling a group of people to identify a need and vow to support it.
Whilst 2012 was all about posh fast food restaurants (think Meat Liquor, Wishbone and Bubbledogs), it looks like the latest food craze hitting the big smoke is enjoying dinner surrounded by super-cute furry animals. I, for one, simply can’t wait.
Having experienced my first baby shower (as an attendee) I couldn’t help but consider the demands of planning a baby shower for the Duchess of Cambridge. With Kate over 25 weeks into her pregnancy of her first child with Prince William we can expect Pippa, the infamous party planner, to imminently throw her a grand affair.
We provided a somewhat royal shower for our mummy-to-be in a local spa, kitting the Georgian room with balloons, flowers and gifts for the bambino and mummy. But what exactly will Kate expect?
It has been previously reported that the baby shower will be held at the beginning of May at the Middleton’s family home, yet nothing has been confirmed. And who can we expect to make the invite list? Well, if the spoof baby shower, photographed by Alison Jackson, reported across US media this week is any indication we can expect an array of Royal attendees; the lookalikes included Queen Elizabeth, Pippa Middleton, Carole Middleton and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
With the Queen and co in tow I would recommend an assortment of games, anything from pin-the-dummy to a sweepstake for when the baby will be born, its sex (although recently revealed to be a boy) and weight and for those more active – baby charades.
We also opted for afternoon tea, something that Kate and the Royals are no doubt accustom to, with plentiful sandwiches, scones and a variety of herbal teas. Conversation steered towards what the next year will mean for the mummy-to-be; leaving the hospital, sharing the news and being a full-time mum.
For Kate, we can expect a flux of paparazzi waiting to capture the moment, a message from Buckingham palace announcing the new born, her return to her family home in Berkshire and the baby’s Christening.
For those of you planning a baby shower there are some great tips available here.
Recently, the foodies at GR have found, like many Londoners that dining in the capital is no longer a case of visiting the nearest Italian for an easygoing pizza or the local curry house with BYOB. There are so many other options to choose from, from dining in random locations such as an old power station to sampling the craziest cuisine combinations such as hot-dogs and champagne. Short-term pop-ups are becoming the norm, giving an added trial for Londoners to visit new places as soon as they can, before the chef shuts up shop and moves onto their next project.
There is also a new buzz and sense of possibility across the whole nation, where it seems that everyone wants to have a go at becoming a chef. With the new TV series of Masterchef achieving over 5 million views an episode and supper clubs becoming more and more popular, people are being inspired to have a go at a three-course meal for strangers themselves too, creating their own pop-ups in their homes.
I was recently introduced to the world of underground pop-ups myself, which involves opening your house to a chef, (or becoming the chef yourself) and running a fully functioning restaurant from your living room. A friend of mine, who is a budding African-inspired chef, first gave me the idea when she came round to my flat (which happily has a large living area) and pointed out that it would be a great space for a restaurant. After looking at her in confusion for a few seconds, she explained how it could be done and as we had the room and the desire to help her with her career, my housemates and I thought, why not? She came equipped with ingredients, pots, pans, crockery and make-shift tables and seating for 30 and turned our living room into a Moroccan-themed grotto for three nights.
It was quite an experience, with each evening seeing our usual open-plan space of TV, sofas and kitchen turned into an authentic restaurant with friends and new faces knocking on the door, hungry and excited to experience a new kind of dining. It turned out to be a great success and it’s something I would definitely recommend to aspiring chefs across the country if you have the capacity and willingness to invite more than four people round for dinner at once!
For those who are looking for some more accessible pop-ups in London and want to get ahead of the game, here are a few of the top ones launching in the next month, showing that anyone who has a passion for food can become a chef:
DJ duo and party organisers Krank Brothers, have opened a British restaurant in the railway arches under Hoxton station called Beagle.
Details: 397-400 Geffrye Street, London E2 8HZ http://www.beaglelondon.co.uk
Celebrated rising star and quarter finalist in last year’s Masterchef Pro, Charlie Stocker has created a pop-up restaurant inside a former 19th Century court room in Clerkenwell.
Details: The Old Sessions House, 22 Clerkenwell Green, City of London, EC1R 0NA http://charliestocker.com/pop-ups/
The famed James Browne of New Orleans is returning to London, but this one’s a chef who has been inspired by the world of indigenous, multi-cultural, Louisiana-flavoured cuisine and is hosting a Jambalaya pop-up in both Chelsea and Clapham.
Details: The Jam Tree, 541 Kings Road, Chelsea & The Jam Tree, 13-19 Old Town, Clapham SW4 0JT http://www.jam-balaya.com/
Former HIX chef Terry Edwards, musician & model George Craig, and journalist Chris Harding all born and bred northern boys, formed Check On last year bringing London burger pop-up Patty & Bun. Now they’re back, creating a posh kebab pop-up restaurant in Soho.
Details: The Endurance, 90 Berwick Street, W1F 0QB http://checkonpresents.com/
Dine Mile High
Four cousins with experience in catering and entertainment, set themselves the challenge of creating the ultimate pop-up restaurant in London. Inspired by the golden age of air travel, they created Mile High, which takes the best bits of a weekend away - the food, the drink and the unexpected - and serve them up in pop-up style.
Details: West London, destination revealed after booking http://www.dinemilehigh.com
Last week saw the death of Storm Thorgerson, who was one of the leading rock-album designers of the seventies.
He was best known for his work with Pink Floyd, with his company Hipgnosis being responsible for the famous cover of the 1973 album “The Dark Side of the Moon”. They were also responsible for Pink Floyd albums including “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals.” This was alongside Hipgnosis’ work with many other leading artists, including Led Zeppelin, T. Rex, and Peter Gabriel.
But Storm Thorgerson’s prominence in album art in its heyday contrasts with the album art’s situation today. As with many forms of art, the particular requirements and constraints of the style have helped drive creativity, with album art such as that of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band having a significant and long-lasting cultural impact. But the shift in technology for delivering music has led to a situation where album art and musicians’ visual brand identity have much less prominence.
However, as one form of art fades through the growth of digital technologies there are new opportunities presented by other digital technologies, such as iPhone and iPad art apps, with leading artists such as David Hockney taking to this form of art.
Just as with album art, smartphone and tablet art has its own peculiar requirements, and here’s hoping that it generates a similar wealth of creativity and cultural impact.
Marathons have been in the news recently for the wrong reasons; a young man tragically lost his life at last weekend’s Brighton marathon and the world gasped as the shocking videos of explosions during the Boston marathon went viral.
Last weekend saw thousands of runners taking part in the London marathon, one of the capital’s largest events with 36,000 people expected to take part.
I ran my first marathon the weekend before last (you may have seen the training blog here), and despite the blood, sweat and tears, it was a positive experience and like nothing I’d ever done before. For anyone considering applying for a marathon next year (the ballot opens for London this week), here’s the take-out from a marathon virgin, who just did her first big race.
Forget your social life
When you sign-up to a marathon, you also sign up to the gruelling months of training beforehand. Google offers you hundreds of free training schedules to follow. Whatever you choose, you will have to commit your free time to running for at least 14 weeks. This means early morning runs, after-work runs, and the real killer; the LONG run at the weekend which leaves you little energy for anything else.
Whether it’s a charity you’re raising money for, friendly competition with a friend or just to reach the achievement of a lifelong ambition, you’ll need to keep thinking of the reasons why you’re doing this and why it will be worth it when you cross the finish line.
Eat, drink, run
Your diet becomes important (especially near the big day) and the blessing of running is you burn thousands of calories! You can enjoy that piece of cake in front of the TV, but you need to forget the wine.
From GPS watches, marathon socks, running apps and your own running playlist, there are loads of things out there to make running easier and more fun. The beauty of running however is that you only really need your legs – so there’s no excuses.
What made the day worth it for me, was having my family’s support, every step I took, and friends and colleagues warm wishes of good luck. Along with my family, over 100,000 people took to the streets of Brighton to cheer on runners. The high-fives, the jelly babies and the swell of 10,000 runners doing it together, makes you push yourself to new limits; in any other situation, I’d have given up.
It’s Been Emotional
The training and the race itself had my emotions in tatters; from an anti-climactic finish where I claimed “I’ll never do it again”, to the next day where I said “I could have gone faster” and to now where I’m considering doing it again; there were ups and downs throughout the whole journey of my first marathon, and I think, I just think, it was worth it.
As the saying goes, “the harder the challenge, the more glorious the triumph”, and if you’re looking for a glorious triumph then you can’t do much better than completing a marathon. Be warned though, I’m not sure you can stop at one…
It’s that rare female who has it all; the lovely home, a rich boyfriend, successful career, exercises regularly and has a firm grip on current culture. One habit of these strange, alien female forms is the ability to also find time to do things us mere mortals can’t. For example baking for leisure, running for enjoyment and above all else, reading for pleasure.
Following this notion, us ladies in the GR towers have taken it upon ourselves to morph into these perfect females (we already knew we had the potential) and start a book club. In theory, the lovely idea would see us all get together to have a natter whilst enjoying some home baking…and we’re now turning this into a reality!
We’re aiming to have a monthly meeting where we will be reading a real variety of books. We’ve had one meeting to date and the turnout was good, the baking excellent (thank you Selen for that) and the banter was riveting. Although, we’d be lying if we didn’t highlight that amongst the excitement and anticipation of book club, most of us are franticly trying to finish the book in time!
In a world where we are more likely to continue working on our daily commutes, we have to resort back to reading on a wet, cold Sunday afternoon (thanks to the last 10 months for those). In PR we depend on reading and digesting information quickly but rarely do we have time to stop, ponder and enjoy nuggets of information or humour. So here’s to the book club making us all a little more cultured and keeping the act of reading alive!
While it may be stating the blindingly obvious to say that technology is developing at a rapid pace, faster than most of us can appreciate really, we don’t often stop and take a look around at how the evolving landscape is changing our day to day lives.
Things that one minute seem fundamental to our lives can disappear without a trace the next. The way we experience the world and use things changes all the time. Following on from a couple of announcements we’ve read in recent weeks, here are a couple of things that we think are on their way out…
Print media (no surprise there then)
Social media means that traditional news outlets often play catch up to these incessant scrolling news feeds. Margaret Thatcher died this week and I had read over 20 tweets before an official news channel had managed to get anything onto their websites and even then they didn’t always get it quite right (we’re looking at you BBC). With the announcement last week that The Daily Telegraph and The Sun are placing their content behind paywalls - surely the result of dropping circulation figures, I don’t doubt the rest will have to follow suit soon. Quality journalism comes at a price, the only question that remains is: are we still willing to pay for it?
It doesn’t stop at News outlets proper though, magazines are evolving too. Never Underdressed the latest venture of ShortList Media, the publishing house best known for their free magazine titles, is described as a “digital, multi-platform, glossy fashion and beauty title that combines the high-gloss production values of monthly fashion magazines with the hourly speed and immediacy of the web”. GR Lifers are intrigued to see how this new title is executed and how it makes the leap beyond a standard website.
Apps such as Pocket and Flipboard, mentioned in an earlier post, are also changing the landscape as people create their own bespoke magazines and newsfeeds, tailored to their own personal tastes and preferences.
Perhaps it’s time for online News outlets to learn from this, allowing their readers to select their preferences and only showing content that appeals to the individual on the home page…breaking news, international politics, food and fashion for me please.
The Fox Problem says it’s ‘social TV that answers back’ and is described by Glamour as ‘the end of TV as we know it’. This new online TV show, streamed as a Google Hangout every Tuesday at 7.30pm, signals a step change in the way we watch TV. The show can be watched on computers, tablets and smartphones, meaning you can watch it just about anywhere you choose, and use social media to talk directly with the presenters. Red button, you’ve had your day.
And while we’re here… just a few things the mobile phone killed:
Over 30 million search results, a VERY expensive wardrobe and several dedicated fashion blogs all over the net, Harper Beckham is taking the world by storm at only 20 months old.
But with an insanely gorgeous father and a super stylish mother, it’s no wonder that little Harper is extremely beautiful and has a wardrobe that even us adults envy. It seems we can’t get enough of her sweet outfits and cute expressions.
And Harper is not alone in setting trends for little people. Mini celebs all over the place are making the headlines. Key rival, Suri Cruise is often spotted trotting around town in a pair of heels, wearing lipsticks and rolling around with a babyuccino. Suri has been in Disney’s most stylish kids list for the past 2 years with her quirky style.
The kids fashion industry has boomed since the arrival of these style icons, so much so that even the big named designers are creating kids collections. This year London hosted its first Global Kids Fashion Week. Designers from Little Marc Jacobs, Chloe, Junior Gauliter were all showcased.
Hopefully- with Harper being such a fashion icon, Victoria Beckham’s fashion line will begin to create clothes as sweet as her daughter.
These days I am hearing more and more about multi-sensory experiences used by brands to provide lasting memories, engaging consumers with messages that resonate with them on a much deeper level than standard marketing and communications.
Over 80% of branded communications are visual and the average person is bombarded by approximately 10,000 of these messages each day making it hard for consumers to absorb and engage with single sensory messages – they simply don’t cut through the clutter.
With this in mind I’ve started looking at some innovative brands that have cottoned on to the multi-sensory idea and are using it to their advantage.
Here are some interesting examples I’ve come across:
Johnson & Johnson wanted to highlight their ‘softness’ credentials and so produced a touchable, interactive billboard at Westfield Shopping Centre to promote their 24 hour Moisture Body Lotion. It featured live models sitting amongst fluffy clouds and soft fabric, encouraging passersby to touch the billboard – as well as the models themselves to feel the softness of their skin. Whilst not everyone would feel comfortable stroking the skin of a live model, Johnsons and Johnsons drew on a key idea in beauty - seeing is believing just doesn’t cut it. We need to feel the results, not just see them or read about them on a packet.
In a move to drive interactivity and consumer engagement with the brand, customers were able to receive a “one off pure experience” in a derelict container containing fresh air from the Alp, a warm log fire, a fleet of husky puppies as well as a troop of Lederhosen dancers. The campaign was designed to reiterate the benefits of drinking water.
Absolut Vodka decided to create edible flavoured glasses made from agar agar (a vegetarian alternative to gelatine). The flavours of the glasses corresponded to the flavour of one of Absolut’s signature cocktails and enhanced the flavour of the drink when eaten.
Burberry, to celebrate the launch of its flagship store in Taiwan, created a 360 degree immersive experience that brought to live the brand’s world of British heritage, fashion, music and weather in an event called “Burberry World Live”. A digital weather experience was the highlight of the event where attendees experienced what was happening on screen including falling leaves, wind and rain, blurring the physical and digital dimensions of the brand.
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It’s not just brands that have been dabbling with the multi-sensory.
Culinary masters Sam Bombas and Harry Parr (who we worked with on The Cambridge Satchel Company store opening last month) opened the first walk in cocktail. The temporary bar dubbed “Alcoholic Architecture” popped up in London offering a cloud of breathable gin and tonic to its patrons through an ultrasonic humidifier - certainly a unique experience for customers who were told to wear protective suits and breathe deeply as they entered the bar.
The ‘edible cinema’ is another unique concept but this time by The Electric Cinema where films were matched to food experiences. On entering the theatre viewers were presented with a series of numbered packages containing different items of food which they had to unpackage and eat at designated points in the film. Pine scented popcorn was served when characters were walking through woodland for example. The flavours and smells tied to portions of the on-going film drew attendees into the movie as if they were experiencing it themselves and made for a truly memorable experience that lasted much longer than the two hour screening time.
The Gorilla Perfumes pop up in Shoreditch created a scented cinema night, matching certain smells with key moments in the cult film Labyrinth starring David Bowie. Viewers were able to find out what the ‘Bog of Eternal Stench’ smells like as well as what fragrance Bowie wears as The Goblin King. The experience received rave reviews and fans are calling for regular scented cinema events for other classic films.