Judge and Jury: Museum aims for new fans with fare for the common man - If the London Museum wants to reach new audiences with its new gallery, it must first grasp the attention of the tabloids as well as the broadsheets, says Jane Howard, managing direct

It is a fact of life that people who go to museums tend to be the educated middle classes or, to use the technical jargon, the ABC1s.

It is a fact of life that people who go to museums tend to be the

educated middle classes or, to use the technical jargon, the ABC1s.



It is to its credit therefore, that with the launch of the new London

Now gallery, the museum of London has set out to broaden its appeal to

people from all walks of life.



As reported in the Independent on Sunday ’London Now has rejected the

bobbies-and-beefeater image beloved of tourist boards and foreign

visitors and portrays the city instead through the eyes of squatters,

demonstrators and tower-block dwellers’.



For example, key exhibits include a dramatic 12ft by 9ft canvas

depicting the 1990 Trafalgar Square anti-poll tax riot and a huge

illuminated model of two Hackney streets under threat from developers

and populated by squatters.



The marketing department has embraced the challenge to reach a wider

audience wholeheartedly with, among other projects, a tube campaign

focusing on some of the more anarchic and saucy aspects of the gallery.

Under the headline ’London’s lost marbles’ another campaign advertises

the famous sandwich board worn by that chap who traversed Oxford Street

in the 1980s and early 1990s, alerting us all to the dangers of

excessive lust and peanut consumption. Another focuses on a 1950s bra

with the headline ’Get uplifted’.



Undoubtedly, with campaigns such as these the museum should succeed in

attracting a much wider audience.



But what of the PR campaign? In most respects this has been extremely

successful and the press office has every reason to be delighted with

the results to date.



Tailor made press releases highlighting different aspects of the gallery

- such as London’s obsession with the car and even one on Chinese Women

in London - were sent to the relevant media.



And a photocall to open the new gallery last week generated excellent

coverage on local TV and in the Times, Telegraph, Guardian and

Independent, including some fairly heated views from John Marshall,

Conservative MP for South Hendon, who felt the poll tax painting

glorified civil disorder.



All great stuff, but where was the coverage in the Mail, Express, Sun or

the Mirror? Given the objective in terms of attracting a mass market

audience, I can’t help feeling that perhaps they missed a trick by not

including just a few more anarchic or titillating elements to the media

relations campaign to whet the palates of our less erudite friends on

Fleet Street.



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