Archive for September, 2010

Council clamps down on unsightly shop signs

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Retailers on the historic Royal Mile in Edinburgh should ensure their signs are in pristine condition, as the city council launches a crackdown on unsightly shop signs.

In an effort to improve the appearance of the old streets, council chiefs have already clamped down on the use of advertising boards, but are now setting their sights on shop signs, poster advertising and flags.

Despite plans for a thorough clean up, the council have little power to force businesses to change their signage or advertising as neither require planning permission.

However, council chiefs have announced plans to apply to the Scottish Government for a special “regulation 11 direction order,” which will give them the authority to ensure all signs and advertising require planning permission.

Under the new regulations businesses would have to adhere to the size, materials and position of advertising as set by the city council, who would prevent any inappropriate use.

It was decided the Royal Mile would be used as a pilot project, chosen for its “architectural and historic value” and because it is a “fundamental component of Edinburgh’s World Heritage site.”

Dave Anderson, director of the council’s city development department told The Scotsman: “A particularly issue in Edinburgh’s conservation areas is disproportionately large signs made of synthetic material and very large lettering, often stuck over the original timber or stone fascia.”

“This obscures the architectural detailing and alters the proportions of the shop front, having a dominating and detrimental impact. There are also instances of large signs filling an entire shop front window, or placed vertically on the uprights of the shop front.”

“This project will tie in with other council initiatives to improve the pedestrian and shopping environment on the Royal Mile,” he added.

Bands play charity gig in shop window

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

People passing Slough Museum were doing double takes of the shop’s window display at the weekend, because it featured live bands.

The traditional shop display was shunned and the window became a stage for bands taking part in the unique charity gig. Busking for Cancer, a gig in aid of Cancer Research, stunned shoppers along the high street as live music was played to the masses through a complicated sound system.

One passerby told the Maidenhead Advertiser: “I thought it was just music and then I saw in the window and I couldn’t believe it, it was so good I thought it was a CD and then I saw people playing.”

A line up of local artists took to the stage to raise money for the charity, with one employee from a shop nearby taking to the stage during his lunch break.

Slough music charity Swipe loaned the equipment which enabled the gig to happen. The event organiser and bass player for The Amy Green project, Jamie Green, said: “Actually getting the sound right was a serious engineering feat. Inside it was quiet, yet outside we had a big sound.”

“Getting a drum kit set up in the 32 inch corridor that is the window proved a task; we took several parts from electric drum kits and patched together a small kit with everything on it,” he added.

The Busking for Cancer event happens across the UK and began in 2006 with one man and his guitar. It has since grown into a series of nationwide events which have raised more than £100,000 for Cancer Research UK.

Starbucks make coffee shop remove signs

Friday, September 17th, 2010

A husband and wife team running a small coffee shop have been made to take down their shop signs by coffee giant Starbucks.

Derek Edwards and his wife Gwenda have been running the Boulders Coffee Lounge in a Welsh seaside village near Aberystwyth for two years.

The pair were shocked to receive a letter from solicitors of Starbucks claiming the firm had been contacted by a visitor to the coffee shop in Borth, who had wrongly thought it was part of the Starbucks chain.

Mr Edwards was asked to remove all of the signs as they were considered to be too similar to the familiar green emblem used by Starbucks. He told Wales Online, that whilst he agreed to their requests he is disappointed by the firms heavy-handed approach.

“Borth isn’t going to threaten anybody, especially a multi-national company, but they have to apply that to every situation I imagine. It was a shock to think that someone has written in and mentioned Borth and got solicitors involved.”

“The building has won awards, the shop has won awards we just wanted to let people know that there was a coffee shop. Obviously if I have infringed copyright of the sign, I am quite happy to go along with that and take the sign down which I have already done,” added the 52 year old.

A spokeswoman for Starbucks said: “Over the last 40 years our logo and name have come to mean great coffee and service to millions of Starbucks customers, so it’s important that we take care that its misuse does not cause confusion. We have asked the coffee shop to change its logo to make it clear that it is not a Starbucks to avoid this situation happening again.”

M&S staff create unique shop display

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Employees of Marks and Spencer in Dumfries created a shop display with a difference in support of a local charity.

Fifteen members of staff and a local customer replaced the store’s mannequins to show the range of departments in store and help raise funds for Sands.

Sands is a stillbirth and neonatal death charity which offers support to anyone affected by the death of a baby. The charity promotes research into this area and will use the funds raised to buy a ‘cold cot’ which will enable parents and other family members to spend time with their baby following birth and prior to the funeral.

The staff at the Dumfries store are fundraising as part of a challenge taking place nationwide. M&S employees across the UK are aiming to raise a total of £1 million for local charities in 100 days. The Dumfries store has doubled its fundraising target of £1500 raising almost £3000 so far.

Louise McIlroy, the manager of the Dumfries store told the Dumfries and Galloway Standard: “Marks and Spencer in Dumfries are pleased to be supporting Sands. Holding a pose in front of a crowd of amused customers can be tricky, but we love a challenge, especially when it’s for a worthwhile cause.”

“We have been touched by the generosity of our staff and customers who have been making donations from day one of our 100 days charity challenge. M&S is committed to working with local communities and it is great to see how much our employees care about local causes,” she added.

Banksy leaves creation in HMV store

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Security at a central London branch of HMV has been increased, after one of Britain’s most bankable artists secretly put two original artworks there.

Bosses at the branch in Oxford Street were stunned to find the works by graffiti artist Banksy. Staff had been unaware that the artist had placed a painting on a canvas and another stencilled on a rusty oil can in store.

Work from Banksy’s collections has sold for tens of thousands of pounds and have been bought both by actress Angelina Jolie and model Kate Moss. Managers have now hired a security guard to protect the two pieces, which were discovered in store this week.

An 8ft by 4ft canvas which features a child in a baseball cap praying in front of a stained glass window was found by staff on Monday morning however, they were shocked by their discovery. Staff had let in members of Banksy’s team to prepare the shop display plugging a DVD release of his film Exit Through The Gift Shop, but all that had been expected was a window display of posters.

Spray cans and brushes were left near to the canvas, suggesting the image may have been prepared in store.

HMV’s head of display Mark Robertson told This is London: “We knew a representative was meant to be coming in overnight to install a large poster display for the DVD in readiness for its release on Monday, but we certainly did not expect to find a full-blown Banksy waiting for us when the shutter went up in the morning.”

Jimi Hendrix’s belongings in display units for public exhibition

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

As part of a new exhibition, some of music legend Jimi Hendrix’s artefact’s will be encased in display units and put on show in London.

According to The BBC, the relics will go on display at the Handel House Museum in Mayfair to mark the 40th anniversary of the guitarist’s death this month.

The items encased in display units include the guitar he played at his last ever show before he died: the Isle of Wight Festival. His handwritten directions to the festival, and the “Westerner” that he wore on stage will also be part of the display.

“Bringing Hendrix to life in the building where he felt most at home has been a revelation for all of us at Handel House,” said Sarah Bardwell, director of the Handel House Museum. “We have thoroughly enjoyed working with people who actually knew him and who have been able to give us first-hand accounts. The exhibits that we have selected provide a fascinating snapshot of his important time in Britain.”

Furthermore, on the weekend of his death, fans will be given free access to his former flat which is now used as offices for the museum.

The rock star, widely held as one of the best guitarists ever to have lived, died three weeks after performing at the Isle of Wight Festival.

John Lewis to launch major fashion campaign

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Department store John Lewis has announced the launch of a new marketing campaign which coincides with the roll out of its new shop fittings.

The new luxury shop fits will be made to the womenswear departments of more branches this autumn, including John Lewis’ flagship store in Oxford Street and the new retail displays coincide with the new marketing initiative to drive sales. The department store will launch its first ever fashion catalogue which will showcase its branded and own brand collections and there will also be a print, outdoor, online and in store marketing campaign.

The store’s print adverts are to appear in glossy magazine titles and their outdoor campaign will run on the London Underground throughout September.

The store has appointed a visual merchandising agency to develop new shop displays for their store windows across the country. The new window advertising display is to be revealed on Friday 10 September and for the first time ever, John Lewis has dedicated all of the windows at its flagship store in London’s Oxford Street to fashion.

Branches in Southampton, Cribbs Causeway and Watford will have their beauty departments refurbished from October. The new look departments will have updated fixtures as well as beauty treatment rooms, the overhaul is part of a £10 million investment in revamping its fashion business.

Craig Inglis Director of Marketing at John Lewis told “We’re really proud of our fashion offering for the coming season so we’ve gone for a comprehensive marketing push. Our aim is to help drive reappraisal in our offer and to support and drive sales of our assortment in store and increasingly important online.”

Research reveals “organic” looked for by few UK shoppers

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Point of sale displays for organic food products should emphasise different claims about benefits to reach UK shoppers, according to research which shows only 9% of UK consumers look for “organic” among claims made for food products.

“Consumers are telling us that organic as a ‘brand’ is not much of a turn on,” says Mat Lintern, managing director of MMR Research WorldWide, whose company conducted the survey of 1,000 UK consumers. According to MMR’s research, visual merchandising for organic products would be better focused at other product claims.

“They [consumers] find claims such as ‘healthy’, ‘natural’ and ‘free of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives’ – benefits clearly associated with organic food – up to five times as appealing,” says Lintern. This is consistent with findings from our other research that a large proportion of today’s consumers seek to avoid foods containing so-called ‘nasties’.”

According to Mr Lintern, consumers look for “confirmation signals” on labelling and other marketing material that food is “as natural or ‘not tampered with’ as possible.”

MMR’s research indicated the most motivating product claims found on the survey were ‘healthy’ and ‘low fat’, actively sought out by 43% of consumers. Next was “low in sugar”, sought by 36% and “low in salt”, sought by 34%. A similar proportion (31%) also looked for ‘low in calorie’ claims.

In terms of claims made about a products origin, the most popular was “locally produced” products, sought by 25% of people and the 11 most appealing product claim. This was followed by “fair trade”, favoured by more than double the number of people looking for organic by 19% of respondents.

Debenhams launch shop displays featuring disabled models

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Debenhams has become the first British high street retailer to use images of disabled models in its shop displays, according to OK! Magazine.

The new displays feature photos of Shannon Murray, a 32-year-old disabled model, as well as other model photography, mannequins and products from Debenhams’ autumn/winter range.

The launch is the culmination of a long campaign to include disabled models in high street advertising, with the idea originally revealed on the popular TV show ‘How to Look Good Naked.’

Trial displays featuring Ms Murray were set up in three different stores earlier this year, with customer feedback proving so positive that Debenhams decided to use the campaign in all its stores.

It is hoped that the move will inspire other retailers to launch similar campaigns in the future. Debenhams has already launched campaigns this year featuring unedited swimwear shots and plus-sized models.

Debenhams’ Deputy Chief Executive, Michael Sharp, told OK! Magazine: “We cater for men and women of all shapes and sizes, young and old, non-disabled and disabled.”

“So following on from our initial work with Shannon and the How to Look Good Naked team, we wanted to make a commitment to continuing with this inclusive approach,” Mr Sharp added.

For her part, Ms Murray is delighted with the new window displays and hopes that the campaign will create a greater awareness for the needs of disabled customers.

“I’m really excited. There are over 10 million disabled people living in the UK. We all wear clothes, we shop in stores and have money to spend. But we don’t get the same inclusion in fashion that we should,” she told The London Evening Standard.