Tag Archives: media

Richard Branson A Jumbo Jet and An Inflatable!

Todays piece is about doing stuff that may appear bigger than you can handle; but in reality it is just the perception of what’s possible and not to hold back on going BIG!

You’ll surprise yourself that the perception of crazy …”we can’t do that moments” turn out to be the most successful no matter how wacky. Generating ideas and staying in the flow creates a level of inspiration that can turn out to be highly rewarding.

To coin the collective phrase about brainstorming sessions…”Lets do a mind dump” as I experienced regularly in workshops within the “MAD MEN” – Ad / Media world. This is where a lot of unique creative thinking is borne . Stretching the limits of ones mind to market a brand or product. This activity is now used in all manner of industries to gain advantage over market share in growing economies.

I can draw an analogy of this based on my own experience a few years back. Sounds crazy but …I recall back in early 1990 working on the RayBan Sunglass account and coming up with all sorts of ideas to expand the brand – At the time Richard Branson ” The Smiley One” was making huge endeavours to transform the Airline business and I thought there was a perfect fit with our Aviator line of glasses.

Prior to this Virgin Atlantic  had already received a licence to open up the Los Angeles route from Gatwick and the official launch was May that year. We wanted to sell our product within “Duty Free” on airlines and the company had already struck a deal with Virgin. I had this idea of painting a pair of Wayfarers on the nose cone of one of their Aircraft to commemorate the partnership which Richard was very excited about. The launch was going to be a typical Virgin style send off with media reporters, Celebrities, TV networks like MTV attending and Richard wanted to make a mark in demonstrating new horizons for the airline business.

But after many discussions the CAA wouldn’t agree. Too “Over The Top”- they said  – it would effect the “aerodynamic stability” was the official line. How the acceptance of the norm has changed over the years – There’s painted branded aircraft everywhere now.

Anyway…. Determined not to be put off by their decision I remembered that Richard loved ballooning as part of his crazy promotional Virgin activities. I thought why not set the scene for a summer beach theme at the check in gate with a Jumbo pair of Inflatable Ray Bans resting on the nose cone of the Jumbo Jet. How  crazy is that —— Well after going back to talk with the various  “officialdom” …..Imagine my astonishment when it was all approved.  “As long as the Pitot tubes are turned off ..(they measure air speed / pressure ) they get very hot when systems are being charged during maintenance so can burn plastic”. they said.

Here are a few picks of the set up in prep before the launch  ( me in the foreground) making sure everything would run to clockwork on the day.

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And here is Richard Branson joining in with the fun before the inaugural flight.

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Never let the initial possibility  of “what can’t be”  get in the way of “what could be”. Go and fulfill your potential and become an expert in something new.

As Richard would say ” Just Go For It” …

 

To your success.

Steve

A Sky Pioneer….my proud moment in tech history

This is my first post as part of a personal challenge …its Day 4 and I’ve been scratching my head ..like a lot of people … imagining this is all part of the self discovery process. “Getting stuff & ideas out of your head and into the real world”. Gets me thinking about life’s path and what impact my experience can help others achieve their own goals, glory days & that light bulb moment.
The topic for today is “Accomplishments “

Well here goes…..
The year was 1989 & up until then I had already had a successful stint in media sales at the Financial Times, Daily Express & a spell in Australia on tabloids under my belt. (But that’s another story yet to be told ) My taste for media at the coal face had begun and I had already cut my teeth on some well respected newspapers, plying my trade of salesmanship to blue-chip clients and their respected agencies.
But I yearned for more & new horizons…..
One of my most proud achievements was joining the “scratch “launch team of Sky Television.
I’ll spare you all the corporate detail & boring stuff but Rupert Murdoch’s new start up & the initial shake up of the broadcast industry was received on stony ground & deaf ears to say the least.
Cable TV had already carved the path in USA & critics like Ted Turner spouted the usual negativity that it would never work. So we apparently had a large mountain to climb to convince stakeholders to invest in our “little satellite venture”.
This was all characteristic of an industry that was staid, overly controlled and far too traditional in its thinking. At the time Sky Channel was doing tiny ratings in Europe broadcasting to a few hundred thousand viewers using fledgling repeat programming (like “I Love Lucy”, “Rawhide”, “Bonanza” & “The Flintstones” to name a few) and the odd movie or two from an old shared satellite system with a meagre footprint.
But times were changing and a new Astra Satellite launch was imminent with new technology that would revolutionise the way we watch TV….and RM had already had a taste of the USA multi channel TV networks and saw a major opportunity in Western Europe and beyond.
There were only a handful of us (5 to be precise)who had left secure posts from other print media and agencies and were now working out of a tiny office in Ogle St West London. But we all shared a common belief that we were on the verge of a fantastic new frontier. It was exciting, ground breaking, we were challenging the norm; & our job was to convince the clients, Ad Agencies & naysayers that a whole new world of ‘Direct to Home’ broadcasting was beckoning.
And I was a major part of initiating that change.
There I was running around town with my complimentary satellite dish in toe & slide projector explaining to groups of eager ears the benefits of DTH ( direct to home ) satellite broadcasting. The virtues of a new breed of channel with exclusive sporting events and the latest movies all pumped into your living room from outer space. I was on fire, charged with enthusiasm, high on adrenaline, smoking red hot & passionate about extolling the virtues of our new business (which has now become a part of the nations everyday life & existence ) .It started off in small groups first ..but then I was standing in front of 500+ audiences as momentum gathered pace fielding questions and selling the concepts. It was a great time in my life that stretched me out of my comfort zone and helped me explore areas of my personality that I didn’t know existed.
I can always remember seeing that first Fosters Lager commercial I placed in the middle of an exclusive televised boxing event Tyson Vs Bruno from Las Vegas. We stayed up late that night due to the time difference; a bunch of a dozen friends huddled round my TV at 4 am, it was snowing outside, Chips N dips, Beers at the ready for the sound of the first bell. Mike Tyson won as usual and our Frank Bruno came home bruised and battered.
But seeing that ad I placed for the first time aired during the commercial break on screen from a concept that I was only just talking about a few months previous . ..got me thinking that the technological future is here already and we can’t get in the way of it . I was there at the crossroads of progress …at the forefront of the merger of TV, Telecommunications & IT; the very lifestyle that we are all enjoying today. It was great to be a part of that groundbreaking influence.
If you can take anything away from this short snippet …It’s this…..
No matter where you find yourself in life there will always be challenges & obstacles that seem immoveable….even though at the time daunting  .. finding ways to overcome those hurdles turns out to be the most proudest precious moments to be savoured.
Selling ideas ..finding your Dream team ..Challenging conventional wisdom … Breaking down barriers
Embracing new ideas …is what Life is all about …

Until the next time …Wishing you health wealth & success in all your goals.

Steve