Erik Petersen: Notts tourism is no longer slanting but standing tall
A FRIEND who recently moved from Nottingham to London posted a picture of Wollaton Hall on her Facebook page.
Nothing odd about that, except that this picture of Wollaton Hall was on a massive poster. A massive poster facing a platform in an Underground station.
The poster's part of One Day In Notts Is Never Enough, a joint project between Trent Bridge and tourism body Experience Nottinghamshire that aims to get people coming up for this summer's Ashes Test to stay a bit longer and look around. It's a good campaign, even if the name does sound a bit like what would happen if you let Shane Meadows take over the Bond films.
Although actually, that could be brilliant. Our own Vicky McClure could be a Bond girl. And that mumbly improvised Meadowspeak could be just the kick up the backside the Bond franchise needs. "To drink, Mister Bond?" "Yeah, um, (inaudible mumbling) shaken, not (expletive, more mumbling) supposed to stir it, yeah? (expletive)."
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Anyway, tourism. The campaign's a specific one for a big event this summer, but it's part of a larger trend of bigger, more creative campaigns by Experience Nottinghamshire. And they're not alone. If you've got the train down to London recently, you might have noticed the billboard in St Pancras. It's plonked right in the walkway from the East Midlands Trains platforms to the main concourse, and it advertises Nottingham Playhouse's 50th anniversary season.
For long-time observers of the ongoing slow-motion car crash that was Notts' ability to promote itself, this newfound confidence is a positive if startling development. In the school dance of English city tourism promotion, Nottingham's usually been the shy boy who had a lot to offer but could never quite work up the courage to ask the girl to dance.
Perhaps you recall the nadir of all this, when Experience Nottinghamshire decided the best way to promote the city was with the letter "N" at a slightly wonky angle. In the Spinal Tap of our tourism journey, the Slanty N was the Smell The Glove moment. It made no sense. It's like if the marketing guys at Disney World decided to focus their ads around the place's ample parking.
But now, all of a sudden, we're walking in like we own the place. It's like we're just waking up to the fact that we're Nottingham Freakin' England. Hey, Mr Mongolian yak herder – ever heard of Sheffield? No, thought not. How about Nottingham? Exactly.
We're acting big and confident. Much of that has to do with savvy people and well-run organisations. Experience Nottinghamshire is adept at creating a narrative, at telling a story that's about that dude in the green tights, but also about a creative, modern place.
And they've got something to sell. We bring people in for everything from Test matches to European theatre festivals to art exhibitions to dance events to video game festivals. We've always been on the map; now we're demanding that our name get the big font.
But we've got to keep pressing. We've got caves that are underused, a Creative Quarter concept that's just getting off the ground, destinations in the county that could use more footfall – the fightback has started, but we're not there yet.
One day of rebuilding Notts tourism is never enough.