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Warts and All!

It's a globally known fact that Nottingham and Notts are traditionally and inseparably linked to the Robin Hood legend. Whether we like it or not, our City and County haven't any real choice in the matter. There are no "opt-outs" for the local authorities on the issue and they cannot "cherry-pick" the mixed blessings that the historical associations bring. They have to accept the world-famous links at face value, "warts and all" – the good, the bad and the downright ugly – and the archives are full of examples covering all three of these categories!

Because of the huge international impact of the legend, you don't have to be a great mathematician to work out that the publicity and promotional benefits of the Robin Hood connections far outweigh any negative aspects - although some sections of the local business community still need a lot of convincing! The diversity and adaptability of the Robin Hood "brand" represents the absolute pinnacle of marketing practice and achievement, ticking all the boxes in the profession's text book. In fact, the sheer extent of the varied applications in which the brand has been used makes Coca Cola look like a comparative novice!

However, the Robin Hood links are not without their problems for the City and County authorities and past experience has shown that the legendary outlaw can be a potentially embarrassing loose cannon and a public relations "firework"! Statistics repeatedly show that, year round, 24/7, some aspect associated with the iconic legend will "light the blue touch paper" and spark global media interest with quite unpredictable results. The issue may explode in a spectacular display that bathes the authorities in a blaze of glory or, as past experience has also shown, things can go embarrassingly out of control and blow up in their face! The one thing that is definitely certain beyond doubt is that the subject of Robin Hood never fails to ignite public and media interest – locally, nationally and globally – and every week seems to bring new revelations.

At the time of writing this column, the week's particular "mixed bag" of Robin Hood related issues includes the launch of a new audio CD of the Robin Hood story "with a twist", featuring actor Lee Ingleby (TV detective George Gently's Geordie sidekick); "The Tunnellers- Maid Marian's People" – an inventive, contemporary adventure novel for 8-10 year olds by local author Helen Dennis; the appearance of Robin Hood on the on-line gaming scene!; the imminent publication of new research findings showing that, in certain aspects, the City and County are "barely out of the starting blocks" when compared with the diverse global exploitation of the Robin Hood brand; and a proposed in-depth survey of a cross-section of the local business community to try to get a better understanding of their views on the benefits (or otherwise) of the area's Robin Hood connections. Oh, and of course there's the continuing "deafening silence" from the local marketing and advertising profession regarding the mystifying conundrum of how Nottingham can claim to have a "Creative Quarter", yet fail to effectively utilise the City's legendary, iconic brand!!! (Perhaps their fingers are still burning from the embarrassingly controversial "Slanty N"!)