BBC: ain't life brand?

What’s this we find on the BBC Bristol website, with its own special link given pride of place on their homepage?

Why, it’s only the completely independent, uncommercial and objective blog of Sue Stones, the manager of the new Harvey Nichols store opening on Thursday in Quakers Friers (sic).

Yes, that’s right. Our local public service broadcaster who, according to their own portentous editorial principles, must not endorse or appear to endorse any other organisation, its products, activities or services and should not give undue prominence to commercial products or services, appears to be brazenly promoting Harvey Nichols and a load of corporate brands on their website.

Fascinating stuff the blog is too. The first entry on Thursday 17 July 2008 finds Sue elegantly setting the scene for us:

I am hoping to be writing this blog on a regular basis to share some of the triumphs (sic) and tribulations which both I and the Harvey Nichols team experience over the coming weeks before the official opening of the store on the 25 September.

The tension is palpable isn’t it? Will Sue and the team get their little shop open on time? What could go wrong? And how many more well worn cliches will she mangle beyond meaning telling us?

Wednesday August 6 finds Sue back at work after a well-deserved holiday and the reality that the store is opening in only 7 weeks has hit home we learn. And just marvel at what’s happened in her absence:

Yesterday I was joined by the new Head Chef, Louise McCrimmon and the Executive Chef from Leeds who arrived to check the kitchen installation. This is at one of the most advanced stages of completion and features a state of the art range for the chefs to use, made in St Etienne in France it is electric which allows for a much more even cooking temperature resulting in a higher quality of food, Bristol is the first store to have this bespoke made, cutting edge technology installed.

Yes, they’ve installed an oven in the kitchen! But wait … There’s more. Sue also takes the opportunity to discuss the fascinating details of the delivery schedule for accepting stock into the store:

“This is akin to a military operation with the task of co-ordinating deliveries of everything from pencils to Petrus, rhubarb to Reidel glasses, Dolce and Gabbana and Louboutin.”

It’s also rather akin to promoting commercial products on the BBC isn’t it?

And so to Thursday 28 August and the realisation that in less than five weeks time they will be open for business has apparently set in for Sue. (didn’t the reality set in on August 6? Ed.)

She tells us:

As a company we are now increasingly known for our restaurants, due to the huge success of The Oxo Tower.

Really? That’d be hugely successful Oxo Tower that gets awards for ‘most disappointing’ and ‘most overpriced restaurant’ in London would it? The Sunday Times’ A A Gill, meanwhile, described the food there as “Dull and worthy though not send-backable, but not worthy enough to go up eight floors if the lift broke down.”

But presumably any suggestion that it’s all a load of overpriced crap is a minor quibble that isn’t worthy of mention on the BBC?

Fast forward to Thursday 18 September and we find busy old Sue’s working in her office and looking out of the window! Perhaps she’s reflecting on how she can promote some more products on the BBC?

The sight of a python skin Zagliani tote bag in the palest of grey and a soft as silk caused enough excitement to finish the delivery.

Or how about:

Today we had a mini flood of sorts in our beauty room … The water was soon turned off and the offending tap fixed but suffice to say my Chloe jacket won’t ever be the same again

Shucks. I wonder if Bristol’s Harvey Nicks sells Chloe jackets by any chance?

Now, if you’re a real glutton for punishment, there’s yet another bloody blog by Emma Carlisle, manager of Cruise, a ’boutique store’ at Cabot Circus.

Nothing seems real to her either, except, it seems, a variety of brand names she liberally drops throughout the blog – it’s Giuseppe Zanotti shoes and Vivienne Westwood cardigans in her first post.

Then, with her second post, why not try and spot the difference between it and an outright promotional PR puff?

On the ground floor we have a premium casual wear offer from Stone Island, C.P Company, Belstaff, Evisu, Billionaire Boys Club, Adidas Heritage and Y-3. As in our new Belfast and Leicester stores, we have a dedicated denim area which will offer a breadth of choice from PRPS, Nudie, Diesel Black Gold and Armani Jeans while Marc by Marc Jacobs, D&G and Toy Watch add a contemporary kick. The store will also house a Stone Island shop in shop offering the widest selection of Stone Island and Stone Island Denims outside of London which is very exciting for us.

For womenswear, we’re proud to present amazing new a/w collections from brands including Mulberry, Diane Von Furstenberg (you only have to watch the Sex in the City the Movie to know how hot she is at the moment), Vivienne Westwood Red Label and Anglomania (unusual and unique like the lady herself!), Partizia Pepe and Arrogant Cat. Premium casualwear brands include Belstaff, Diesel Black Gold and Juicy Couture. The store will also have a dedicated footwear, bag and accessory area showcasing Jimmy Choo, Mulberry, Fendi and Gina to name but a few.

Hurrah for the BBC scourge of commercialism!

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19 Responses to BBC: ain't life brand?

  1. The Last Bristolian says:

    Well… I’m still looking forward to it anyway.

  2. Chris Hutt says:

    Perhaps the new name of “Quakers Friers” is in honour of the Blanc Brasserie. But haven’t they missed a trick there, when Raymond has “Suprême de canard frite” on the menu? Surely “Quackers Friers” would be even better.

  3. Steve says:

    Perhaps the official name of the new shopping precinct will be “Merchant’s Quarter, sponsored by BBC Bristol and the Evening Cancer”?

  4. Sam says:

    such a fucking joke… the last two nights theyve been showing us round the “glourious new bristol” with the news “will it be finished on time!” will it be three nights in a row……

  5. Chris Hutt says:

    Welcome to the People’s Democratic Republic of Cabot Circus.

    At last – Luxury fashions for the masses!

    But what will they do about the doomsayers and gloom merchants who persist in undermining the glorious day of liberation fast approaching? Is there perhaps a secret basement area under Cabot Circus where they can be re-educated to appreciate the finer things of life brought to us by our great leaders?

    Shoppers of the world unite! You have nothing to gain but more chain stores!

  6. The Bristol Blogger says:

    Chris,

    If you had read the Cancer’samazing front page story today – ‘A new era in retail dawns’ – you would know that the official slogan is not ‘Luxury fashions for the masses’ but ‘Luxury for all’.

  7. Chris Hutt says:

    I know, it’s like self-parody. I guess the journos have been told in no uncertain terms to hype it up and are just treating it as a big, surreal joke, seeing how far they can push it before someone says “cold shower”. I bet they all log on here for the antidote at the end of the day.

  8. SteveL says:

    Merchant Banker’s Corner? Or is the fact that there are no Merchant Banks after last week leaving rhyming slang short of a rhyme?

  9. Matt says:

    I hear from the frantic shop fitters that tomorrow might be a flop? Four drummers and a circus group will be playing for nothing then…

    Who knows eh? It will be hard enough to get to see the whole thing. I understand that First have refused to put on extra buses sooo que “Cabots Circus traffic chaos! ” headlines.

    I know that I am being cynical but we are all broke due to the credit crunch so window shopping it is then :-/

  10. Chopper says:

    This cabot circus shit really is a circus.

  11. Mike Hope says:

    Has anyone had the misfortune to listen to Radio Bristol’s piss poor coverage of the new Merchant’s Quarter?
    Starting from Richard…er…um…er…Wyatt’s abysmal breakfast show, which finds the great man positively creaming himself at the prospect of new shops ,and Ben Prater’s up his own arse ‘Drivetime’ programme where he even manages to find time to discuss the new shops in between droning on endlessly about his family.
    It can’t get any worse, can it? Oh yes it can. The supremely talentless Sam Mason has been given a three hour show every afternoon.
    Wyatt and Prater will sound like Richard Dimbleby in comparison.

  12. Anonymous? says:

    Cabot Circus is already being downgraded to a ‘leisure destination’ by the presenter of Inside Out West because that’s all the average visitor can do – wonder round and maybe buy a coffee. Of course, this is what retailers want – people thinking they are having a great time whilst being tempted into their stores.

    They had a posh wheelchair-bound woman who gave her opinion of the access from the disabled perspective. She gave Cabot Circus the thumbs-up but the thumbs-down for her bank account – and so consumer denial seems set to continue. If something isn’t good for you may I suggest you stop doing it, especially if you are aware of it.

    The presenter also said words to the effect “…and if you’re thinking of checking out Cabot Circus tomorrow [for the opening] Radio Bristol have information on traffic flow”. THAT says it all really!!!

  13. Pingback: Joined up journalism « Bristol Evening Post Watch

  14. Des Bowring says:

    Thank God for the Gloucester Road.

  15. Ed says:

    Please can we all refer to this new shopping centre as ‘Babylon Circus’ from now on?

    Having visited, I feel this sets the tone correctly, and has a certain ring to it…

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  18. Dona Qixota says:

    Ed – Babylon Circus has indeed a ring of truth to it, especially as Revelations 18 predicts a deliciously gruesome credit-crunching fate in store for those merchants consorting with the Whore of Babylon.

    “And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more …” and so on …

    Time will tell.

  19. Dan Ashby says:

    I have been avoiding it thus far though may wander down there one lunchtime. Does anyone remember the Colonnades in Bath? It opened right before the last recession as I remember it and was full of shops selling useless stuff that would only be desirable (desired) in a time of plenty. The massive overheads for space in the place sent all the businesses down in months and now although the building is still there, it sells far fewer buckets of scented pine cones than it once did.

    Dan

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