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From a Spark to a Flame

"Why doesn't Nottingham make more of its world famous Robin Hood legacy? That's the million dollar question that gets asked 24/7, all year round by residents, visitors, students and the media. It casts a dark shadow of doubt over the credibility of the City's "creative" claims and seemingly sends chills through the local marketing profession who appear to run for cover! It "drives a tram" (a Nottingham one of course!) straight through the City's creative reputation and somewhat undermines the many positive achievements in the wider creative field, ranging from ground-breaking medical research to Jake Bugg's musical success!

I can recall a time when Nottingham's marketing prowess was viewed in awe by the nation's advertising world and the City was home to a host of top-flight advertising agencies with blue-chip clients. In fact, the Garratt-Baulcombe agency even had a much-envied hoarding above the exit turnstiles on St Pancras Station implying "Why have you come down to London, when the UK's best creative advertising talent is back in Nottingham ?" What has happened to that spark? In the columns of the Nottingham Post I have repeatedly tried to publicly motivate the present marketing fraternity to tackle the Robin Hood issue but to date all I have heard has been a deafening silence!

There has always been friction from certain sectors of the business community who adopt an "emperor's new clothes" attitude to Nottingham's legacy of the Robin Hood legend and there's a well-documented track record of instances where random comments from the City and County's commercial sector have sparked various national and international media frenzies that had damaging consequences for the region's reputation! However, the sparks that I would like to see are creative ones!

Maybe Robin's traditional arch-enemy, the Sheriff of Nottingham should throw down the gauntlet and challenge the local marketing and promotional "creatives" to show more flair and initiative? – but perhaps their fingers are still burning from the embarrassing "Slanty N" fiasco!

Decisions are imminent on the funding for the City and County's respective projects at Nottingham Castle and the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre but at this point in time, we still do not know to what extent the proposals will actually meet public and visitor expectations. When the Castle project was first announced, a letter in the Post from a local chartered architect stated forcefully that "Nottingham Castle's main claim to fame is Robin Hood, love him or hate him! – including social history, industry, sport and theatre is an insult to a legend!"
We also don't know what the responses and results will be from the World Wide Robin Hood Society's survey with the local business, commerce and cultural community, when, over the next few months, they are asked for their honest opinions of the Robin Hood "Brand"!

It seems to me that there are a lot of potentially controversial Robin Hood related issues all about to come to a head around the same time. Is this the calm before the storm? I think I'll just light the blue touch paper, retire to a safe distance and get ready to watch the fireworks!