Would a rose really smell as sweet if it was called 'Consignia'?

  1. Radio Caroline
    Radio Caroline
    The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 6,510 Likes: 2,555
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    Fifty years ago this month, the Marine Broadcast Offences Act came into force and at three in the afternoon, thousands of teenagers across Britain were in tears, as Radio London played A Day in the Life by The Beatles and then switched off its transmitter.

    The white noise that followed that famous last chord sounded even sadder than the song itself and a teenage me could hardly believe that a government could be so vindictive as to destroy the pleasure of young people across Britain.

    But there was still hope. My favourite station, Radio Caroline was still going to broadcast after midnight and defy the Labour Government and its desire to keep broadcasting under strict government control. At midnight, DJs Johnny Walker and Robbie Dale celebrated with a record 20 million listeners.

    But all the other stations with names like London, England, Britain, Scotland, 270, 390 and City switched off and today have been largely forgotten. By 1970, the government had lost sight of the fact that the election was to be the first in which 18 to 21 year-olds could vote and that these people had been impressionable teenagers when Caroline was at the peak of its influence. The polls gave the Labour Government an eight-point lead - and they lost! 

    Youngsters may have enjoyed listening to all those other stations, but Radio Caroline created fierce loyalty in its listeners. Despite various raids, ships being impounded, the radio ship Mi Amigo sinking whilst on the air (for several years, the mast could still be seen sticking out of the water at low tide!) and the 300ft mast on the radio ship Ross Revenge collapsing after the 1987 hurricane, they are still on the air. They are on the Internet, on DAB and have just been granted a 1kW AM license!

    Land-based pirate Radio Jackie enjoyed a similar fate. They too had fiercely loyal listeners and went through raids and prosecutions, only to come out the other side as a legitimate broadcaster with a license. In Holland, veteran pirate broadcaster Veronica went through several reincarnations and has managed to survive as a satellite station.

    I didn't give the survival of these three venerable stations much consideration, until I read a rather boring economics paper on the names of companies and I was reminded of the Consignia debacle in 2001, in which some vapid consultants and government types decided that The Royal Mail needed a new name. 

    But instead of calling it 'Betty's Briefs' or something off-the-wall like 'Spangle-Trousers', they spent millions upon millions re-branding The Royal Mail 'Consignia'. There must have been even uglier names in the hat, though I for one, cannot think of any. By 2002, we had The Royal Mail back again and 'Consignia' was consigned to the Binnia!

    But let me return to that boring paper about company names - the professors at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in North Carolina suggest that having the right name boosts profits. In particular, they discovered that giving your company the same name as yourself made a 3% increase in return on investment - and as we all should know by now, 3% over a period of years is a great deal of money!

    They explained this finding, by suggesting that if you name a firm after yourself, you are telling your customers that you believe your product is good enough to stake your personal reputation on it. The idea is that customers 'hear' this message and reward companies named after their owners accordingly.

    The study looked at two million small businesses in Western Europe in the commercial database Amadeus, which holds information about owners, managers and financial performance from 2002 to 2012. Checking against the surnames of the largest shareholders, the authors found that 19% of firms were named after their founders and were 3% better off!

    So, yes, there are the exceptions such as International Business Machines and their rivals Systems, Applications and Products (better known to us as IBM and SAP) and people have become rich with all sorts of silly names such as Microsoft, Apple, Nullsoft, Google and Xerox. But then remember Disney, Ford, Austin, Morris, Hewlett-Packard, Dunlop, Biro, Bose, Dolby and thousands of others. They put their own names on their companies and it worked!

    Of course, sometimes the owner's name may not be suitable and if your name is Seiberling, calling your company after Charles Goodyear, the man who invented the vulcanising process, is considerably better than calling it United Tyres International Conglomerate, or some such nonsense. 

    Some businesses are best named after where they are. When Pink Floyd's drummer Nick Mason was looking for a name for the new studio they had built at 35, Britannia Row, Islington, he remembered that everyone referred to the EMI studios as Abbey Road, because that is where it’s based - so he called the new studio Britannia Row. It is a stone's throw from Angel Studios, which are at The Angel, Islington.

    I first saw Pink Floyd in a disused railway shed that had been converted to an arts centre and was called Centre 42 (no, I don't know why, either!). It was a circular locomotive repair shop in Chalk Farm, north-west London and everybody ignored the fancy name and just called it 'the roundhouse'. Today it is one of London's premier venues and is called, yes, you've guessed it, The Roundhouse! 

    Those were crazy and heady days. Rock was young and it not only met with the disapproval of the authorities, but it actually deeply annoyed and troubled them. There was a real sense of young versus old. There was something about the music of the young that was profoundly disrespectful of the wisdom of our elders. We should have been listening to music by people who died a hundred years ago, and not Otis Reading and The Rolling Stones. 

    And, talking of rock-and-roll, music radio in Britain is dominated by one company, Bauer Media Group, which is owned by one person, Yvonne Bauer. But the music comes from playlists, generated by computer algorithms and I cannot imagine any teenage girls crying if Absolute Radio was banned – and, I for one, would definitely not be moved to protest over any possible demise of something called The Bauer Media Group.

    Ronan O'Rahilly, the tearaway son of a well-known and wealthy Irish family, was managing bands such as The Rolling Stones, Gorgie Fame and Alexis Korner, but no labels wanted them and there was no way for independent labels to get air-time. So O'Rahilly decided to start a pirate station at sea. On a trip to the Sates to buy broadcasting equipment, he saw a picture in Life Magazine of President Kennedy playing with his daughter Caroline in the Oval Office.

    So, the new name for the station was to be Radio Caroline. It was a name that the marketing boys would say, created emotional proximity. Other stations with high-sounding names like Radio North-Sea International came and went and nobody really cared. But people cared about Caroline. 

    Over the years, O'Rahilly was to make several disastrous mistakes that managed to put Caroline off the air on several occasions. Today, he is an old man and the station and the radio ship are run by volunteers. But one thing O'Rahilly got dead right was the name. Radio Caroline lives on: Radio Consignia would have sunk without trace.

  2. ChrisGoodfellow

    ChrisGoodfellow UKBF Regular Full Member - Verified Business

    Posts: 139 Likes: 42
    Hey Everyone, I appreciate this article's already be run as a post in the Time Out forum, but thought it deserved an airing on the front page of the site!
    Posted: Sep 6, 2017 By: ChrisGoodfellow Member since: Jul 10, 2014
  3. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 6,510 Likes: 2,555
    The Ross Revenge (AKA Radio Caroline) today.

    To balance the original giant mast, there is about 200 tons of concrete in the bilge!
    Posted: Sep 6, 2017 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013