B&G are very fortunate to have lovely clients (hello lovely client readers - big kiss!) who understand what we do and how it fits into the world of business/media/social media/people buying stuff etc. It is truly the perfect existence. In the past, however (and possibly in the future, who knows!?) I, like absolutely everyone else working in PR, have been faced with a client or two who fails to grasp that their product/talent/offer sadly isn’t the sort of thing that sets the world on fire. Often it wouldn’t even set Dorking on fire (disclaimer: If the Great Fire of Dorking breaks out this week, I have an alibi……..)
A cautionary tale. In 1997 I was presented with a new music client whose name was Russell. His surname was Nash and this was therefore his stage name. It still is; I checked. Nash still ploughs a desperately shallow furrow in the well-tilled and over-saturated field of popular music. I wish him luck as I bear no ill will to any man - apart from the obvious racist, stupid ones.
Nash’s debut single was a cover version of Eleanor Rigby done in the club style, which is to say soulful with a bit of hip-hop in there somewhere. Bear in mind at this juncture that Nash was neither from the hood nor the ghetto or anywhere else immersed in that great music. Nash was from somewhere like Purley. Hearing his version of Eleanor Rigby for the first time made me want to pour lighter fluid into my ears and ignite it; my boss had to ban me from going down the off licence for three weeks. Luckily I have failed to find a version on YouTube for you to listen for yourselves but hopefully you gather that I wasn’t a fan. The music press agreed with me.
Nash, however, was a huge fan of Nash and couldn’t understand why Smash Hits, Q, the NME etc didn’t want to hail him as a great new talent and his debut single as a piece of aural genius akin to Mozart, Stevie Wonder or Acker Bilk. But with the radio and TV pluggers meeting similar taste-influenced brick walls to the beleaguered press guy, a plan B was urgent required.
Music biz plan B in those days usually involved a student tour. This was a way to “build profile from the grassroots” by getting the performer to schlep around provincial university campuses performing for drunk young clever people and in the process occasionally getting a mention in the local press or, if extremely fortunate, on local radio. A small tour of Britain’s higher education establishments was duly pulled together, posters were stuck up around key towns and cities and surprisingly tickets sold reasonably well (possibly because they were £2 each and included a free beer).
Everywhere but Newcastle University where tickets barely shifted. The student tour people couldn’t understand it. The record company couldn’t understand it. Nash, still reeling from the lack of Top of the Pops or the cover of The Face, couldn’t understand it. Eventually we asked the Ents guy at the university why he thought ticket sales were so poor. He explained that the posters in the city were a cause of some embarrassment to the Union because the word Nash was geordie slang for “blow job”………..