Monday, 7 April 2008
The Association Principle
The association principle explains how marketers latch on to success in order to bask in the glow and achieve more sales; hence you get celebrity endorsement and the like. There are places that have almost become brands in themselves - London, Paris, New York - and people's ears prick up when they hear talk of these cosmopolitan, glamorous locations. Then there is Oldham.
We are rather the opposite, when one of our own sons or daughters make good we are eager to cling to their coat tails as they disappear in a cloud of dust up or down the M62 away from the town - usually to one of those glamorous places. It's embarrassing though , it smacks of desperation even, when these people clearly want to disassociate themselves from those they left behind and we desperately chase after them claiming even the most tenuous association.
Take the composer William Walton: Oldham born and bred but as soon as his talent was out, he was off spending his days with his glamorous and clever peers; and did he return in his dotage? No, he finished his days in sunny Ischia. But for years we have treated various relatives of his like royalty as we invite them back to sit in state at various borough musical events and the like.
Another is the world famous glass artist Brian Clarke. When The Spindles shopping centre was designed he was the obvious choice to do the glass roof but not because he was conveniently placed in his studio down Retiro Street, no, because he was famous and had to be brought from London. I think we only saw him once when the thing was complete (which predictably featured images of Walton and his music) he was there for the opening, but once he'd got his cheque we didn't see him again.
But no matter how these notables shun their mill town heritage we still love to cling to them - has everything that has ever given us pride in our town got up and left?
Last Saturday we watched ITV 4 with excitement as boxer Choi Tseveenpurev bamboozled young Liverpudlian Derry Mathews with his unconventional boxing technique to take the WBU title from the choked youngster (his technique, if you are interested, seemed to me to simply consist of being tough as old boots, not minding being hit much and then hitting back very, very hard).
Why do I mention it? Because Mongolian born Choi is based in Oldham in fact he trains at Tara Leisure where my dad goes. And, yes you've guessed it, we are all very proud of him in Oldham, never mind that he was born many thousands of miles away - he's successful.
Oh, by the way, aren't you glad that I didn't mention the old joke that was on everyone's lips after they saw the photo of Choi... it wasn't? Oh, go on then.
Boxing promoter Frank Warren was in the dressing room talking to Choi before the fight and asked him where he was from. Choi replied "Oldham, Mr Warren" to which he replied....wait for it...."Wear the Fox Hat"
I thank you!