Monthly Archives: June 2013

London Loves Gekko


Field Marketing agency Gekko are delighted to have been highly commended at the inaugural London loves Excellence awards.

 At the inaugural London loves Excellence awards, held at the Marriot Grosvenor Square on June 25th, Gekko’s name was the first out of the hat with a ‘Highly Commended’ recognition in the Business & Financial Services category.  Mixing with some big brands such as Pret a Manger,  Zoopla and Addidson Lee, Gekko are thrilled to have received recognition from a panel of judges that included influential figures in the business community including Willie Walsh, Theo Paphitis and Karen Brady.

The LondonlovesExcellence Awards are presented by and London Chamber of Commerce & Industry and are billed as London’s most sought-after business awards. These awards are unique for two reasons: first, they are led by one of industry’s most respected figures, Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of International Airlines Group and President of the London Chamber of Commerce. And second, together with Willie Walsh, they will be judged by arguably the best line-up of business figures, entrepreneurs and public figures assembled in decades.

Full details from the evening can be found at and

Is DAB still the future for radio? No, it’s the present – and history is repeating itself


It seems a long time since 2009, when Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report proposed a target of 2015 for phasing out the radio analogue transmission network. Disappointingly, this was dropped following a back-lash from sections of the industry in the Digital Economy Bill later that year. For a long time, resistance has varied from anger to plain apathy; to the point where many questioned whether DAB would ever achieve ubiquitous adoption before it was usurped by other technology.

Last week, the first digital radio switchover pilot concluded; a six week project in Bath, overseen by the DCMS. With 237 households switched to DAB, a staggering 92 per cent were highly satisfied, 80 per cent preferred it to analogue and 86 per cent would recommend it to another person. So what has changed?

The parallels that can be drawn between the current digital radio switchover campaign and the Digital TV version at the turn of the century are eerily close. It’s difficult now to even fathom a time without HD TV, let a time when analogue was the norm, but the sentiment at the time was identical. In fact, there was a digital TV household research pilot conducted 10 years ago in Bolton, prior to digital TV switchover, just like in Bath, with similar results.

What’s most fascinating about the pilot scheme is that when asked about the event of a radio switchover, respondents said they needed to know more about costs and how to convert their car. The respondents also recommended that Government should provide information about digital radio and the switchover, similar to communications they had seen about the digital TV switchover.

It appears that Ford Ennals has worked his magic for the second time, and therein lies the key to a successful switch: education and collaboration.

Momentum has slowly been built on multiple fronts in order to push the cause forward. Digital mascot, D Love (pictured) was introduced at the start of the year and we’re now entering the second phase of ATL activity, featuring specialised targeted communications linked to calendar hooks such as Fathers Day and the summer holidays to further build positive sentiment amongst listeners. In addition, Ennals has scored one major coup after another by recruiting Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Mini and now Volvo to all fit DAB radios as standard.

Major media owners including Global Radio, the BBC, Bauer Media and Absolute Radio have all have come out in clear, strong support of DAB radio too. With a new TV campaign imminent and digital radio guides also being supplied to retailers such as John Lewis, the official switchover is legitimately imminent.

As called for by the Bath pilot participants, the next step is teams of trained specialists deployed to offer in-store advice and demonstrations, experts manning a call centre and a full national marketing campaign to ensure the public fully understand and fully embrace the process, much like the TV switchover before them.

Change can be a difficult proposition, particularly when the initial perception is that the benefits do not justify the inconvenience. But when managed properly, utilising effective marketing techniques to make that transition as agreeable as possible, anything can be achieved.

Daniel Todaro is managing director of Gekko.

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Next stop: Wonga Circus? The argument against branding Tube stations


This week it emerged that London Underground stations may be allowed corporate sponsors under plans being considered at City Hall. The money-spinning idea, which some predict could raise £136m a year, would see landmark stations renamed and Tube lines given a corporate makeover, paving the way for Burberry by Bond Street, Virgin Euston and the Vodafone Line.

Here brand expert Daniel Todaro presents the case against branding the Tube…

Against – Daniel Todaro, MD, Gekko
Brand sponsorship is one thing, but forgive me if I’m wrong, isn’t the premise of naming a station based upon its location?The idea has been proposed and rejected before for a number of reasons, so it’s difficult to see why anything would have changed. As has been rightly pointed out, I’m sure this map is well-intentioned, but a Tube map is to show people where a station is and how to get to their destination. Can you imagine how obstructive this would be to tourists who are unlikely to speak English fluently? Our trains struggle to run smoothly at the best of times, thus I imagine it would not be wise to discourage tourism further.Some may argue it opens up an interesting debate, but I feel it offers the opportunity to open the corporate floodgates. TfL has insisted they’re against names being sold off “to anyone waving a cheque book and offering a bad pun”. However, selling naming rights aggressively across the public transport network would raise an estimated £136m according to the report. This would pay for just a one-year price freeze, not even a discount for London commuters, just a temporary measure against price inflation.

So while in the initial stages TfL may maintain integrity with brand sponsorship, what happens after the initial three year sponsorship deals finish? The station name changes again (or reverts) causing more confusion, and perhaps a bidding war emerges. Perhaps then we see a lucrative bid from Wonga (which has already sponsored free travel) TfL are unable to turn down and before you know it, we’re travelling to Wonga Circus for a spot of retail therapy.

Back in 2011, winemaker Oxford Landing very nearly exploited London Underground’s need for cash by offering a reported £10m for a station takeover for a minimum of three months. It may sound unbelievable to imagine Virgin Euston, but the only thing that prevented a realisation of Oxford Landing was a niggle over intellectual property law regarding the famous roundels.

The cost of such a rebrand would already be substantial with the need to change media, signage, leaflets, and of course the iconic map. But the greatest impact would be felt through London losing its iconic location identities to brands. Yes we’re in a recession, but has the greatest capital city on the planet really come to this?

Instead of seeking to profit from cultural and historical landmarks, and outraging the London public whilst doing so, brands should be focusing on charity and wider social responsibility. That’s how they can give back to the community, rather than compromising the capital’s heritage.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this argument crop up and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Admittedly it’s not as absurd as brands sponsoring police uniforms, but like that issue, it can become a very slippery slope.

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