Thursday, March 07, 2013

Selling Palma's Passion: Merchandising

Almost a year on from having announced that, slogan-wise, Palma (aka Palma de Mallorca) had gone all passionate, the city's councillor for tourism, Álvaro "Sporting" Gijón, has made a further announcement, one which announces that merchandising involving Palma's passionate slogan and logo will be put out to tender. Where do you send your application? I'll offer them a couple of quid.

There have been thoughts about official merchandising in the past, but previously they would have involved designers and producers being paid and the town hall taking the risk of flogging products that might have gone unsold. Now, therefore, the emphasis has shifted. The lucky winners will assume the risk as well as the responsibilities for design, production and distribution, pay a tender fee to the town hall for the privilege, and hand over anything up to 30% on what they sell to the Palma (sorry, Palma de Mallorca) 365 consortium whose slogan is "Passion for Palma (de Mallorca)".

Sporting Gijón admits that they have no idea how much might be made from this venture, but he has ventured to suggest that it will at least match but probably be greater than the 100 grand that, for example, the Joan Miró Foundation can raise. It might depend on how much would be expected by way of securing the bid, but with costs of production and so on, any company would be looking for considerably more than 100 grand.

The winners do start from a position of disadvantage. One created by the slogan and the logo. As was remarked when it was launched last year, the slogan is passé in its very passion. The logo, which when turned upside down can reveal that the "M" looks like a pair of comedy breasts or testicles rather than the heart which it is meant to represent, wouldn't be inappropriate for something like a medical charity. It is not a great logo and the slogan is desperately old hat.

Still, if the products to be offered are any good, then the deficiencies of the slogan and logo might not matter. And so what might these products be? One inevitable suggestion is gastronomy products. So, will there be ensaïmadas sold at premium prices solely because they have the passionate logo on their boxes?

I feel we should help the lucky winners out by coming up with some ideas. I wouldn't imagine for one moment that anyone has stopped to think to ask tourists or anyone else for that matter what might make for good merchandising (asking tourists what they think about anything is largely anathema to local tourism authorities). But I'll start the ball rolling with a few ideas.

With this huge influx of Russians, I would suggest one of those Russian doll things in the form of the Duke of Palma (not that he might be the Duke of Palma for much longer). You would take the head of the Iñaki to reveal a smaller Iñaki, then take successive heads off until you get to the centre of the doll, and what or who would you find? I suppose Judge Castro would like to know as well.

Or how about a Palacio de Congresos jigsaw puzzle? It would come in 28 million pieces, one piece for every euro it would cost to demolish the damn thing, a figure that the town hall has recently issued. It would come with a bonus puzzle, finding, using your skill and judgement, a suitable answer to the question - why did they ever decide to build it in the first place? - which would require filling in the missing words in "because they are a bunch of blank, blank, blank".

Instead, we can probably expect some OMG I'm so passionate for Palma de Mallorca t-shirts, some Cathedral tea towels, and a GESA building soap-on-a-rope. But if one can be serious for a moment, it has long been a mystery to me why local towns don't make far more of what they habitually produce, like their posters, and not only those for fiestas. Some of these are real gems, and there must be examples that go back over many years. A problem with them, and I would readily concede that it is a problem, is the cost of printing, but posters, and indeed other bits of art, have greater intrinsic and lasting value than an ensaïmada or a tea towel. The other problem would be that they would want to go and spoil them by sticking the stupid logo on them, and that, as a bit of art, does not have any intrinsic value, much though Sporting Gijón and the 365 consortium might believe otherwise.

Any comments to please.

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