Monday, 2 March 2009

Beautiful Day

Idea. Ambition. Dreaming. Daring. Hoping. Determination. Planning. Excitement. Planning. Tension. Planning. Reality. Quality. Result.

Perhaps these were some of the phases that the team at the BBC went through in putting on last Friday’s spectacular event. For those who don’t know about it, that small Irish group ‘U2’ played a mini ‘secret’ gig on top of the iconic Broadcasting House on Portland Place in the centre of London, bringing Friday night rush hour traffic to a standstill. Looks good doesn’t it!

Now playing on a roof is not a new thing, granted... but back when The Beatles did it, I imagine there was a little less bureaucracy around. These days, getting anything done, anywhere, no matter how small, usually takes forever and a day to sort out. So the logistics and planning involved in actually making this happen are fun beyond belief to imagine!

But... sure enough... it happened. Someone somewhere (probably quite some time ago now) said in a meeting “Wouldn’t it be great if U2 played on top the BBC?”. And other people at the meeting said “Yeah – that really would be brilliant! Can we make that happen?” And hopefully the person who had the initial idea said something like “Why not? Let’s give it a go!”.

Now, I’d love to think it was as simple as that, but as we all know, it’s all part of a big global promotional wheel that started turning a long time ago for the launch of U2’s new album (which I’ve just finished listening to and is very good by the way!). Management, record companies, broadcasters, media owners, all have conversations well in advance and eventually a plot is put together... and if everyone’s got it all together correctly, the benefit for all involved is immense. (Being "Letterman's" house band for a week for example... Nice touch!)

Did the BBC just give U2 the biggest plug for any album release ever in the history of the BBC? Probably. Did U2 benefit? Definitely. Did the BBC benefit? Undoubtably. Did listeners and viewers benefit? Undeniably... the cumulative content was great. A win-win all round perhaps (or perhaps not if you don’t really like U2 and watch / listen to the BBC, as you couldn’t really avoid it if you were in the UK recently). The occasion even has its own mini-site... ! Not many bands get that from the BBC!

And you know the BBC have got behind something in a big way when they give it its own logo!

So, what can we learn from this U2-schmooze fest?

1. Despite the potential enormity of the task, dare to “dream the impossible dream”. Come up with a simple, yet brilliant idea!
2. Planning is everything
3. More planning is required right after that
4. Have deep ‘public service style’ pockets / a rich record company / a big sponsor behind you
5. Plan some more... just in case
6. Promote the ‘b’Jesus’ out of it
7. Enjoy a moment of glory when it all comes together

The point here is not about U2 or the BBC or promotion to the point of undue prominence. It’s about ideas. Having ideas. Believing in ideas and making ideas come to life.

Without ideas, we all tread the path of mediocrity.

Go have an idea.

And now go and make it happen.

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