Have we done enough to promote The Beatles?
Aug 23 2005
Jessica Shaughnessy looks at the city's Fab Four legacy
JUDGE once famously asked "who are The Beatles?" Not surprisingly, he was ridiculed in the national press the following day.
The notion that anybody did not know the identity of the Fab Four was laughable.
But has Merseyside made the most of the worldwide popularity of The Beatles?
In the run-up to Capital of Culture, tourism managers are keen to exploit any aspect of the city's culture and the Beatles are certainly a big part of that.
Recently, a marketing campaign was launched to increase awareness overseas of Liverpool as the home of the Beatles. It is hoped the drive will bring in about £12m every year.
It was launched with a concert in Pisa where 4,000 Italians turned out in a public square to watch tribute band the Mersey Beatles.
At the time, Martin King, director of tourism for the Mersey Partnership, said the appeal of the Fab Four had not been used to its full potential in luring visitors to Merseyside.
"Some people in Liverpool may think The Beatles are over-used as a tourist attraction, but in fact they are not used enough if you look at how Memphis has benefited from the Elvis legacy."
No one could accuse Liverpool of dwelling on the past and becoming a shrine to its most famous citizens.
And many Liverpudlians are keen to point out that the city has far more than one string to its bow, so maybe we are getting the balance just about right.
The Daily Post asks: "Have we done enough to promote the Beatles as a tourist attraction?"
-We have got the balance just about right
YES SAYS Bill Heckle of Cavern City Tours
BACK in 1995, Steve McRiskin was studying for a masters degree in music tourism in America and he came to Liverpool to help Cavern City Tours.
It was a time when everyone was saying: "What would America have done with The Beatles?"
He travelled to the States to visit every major musical destination and met all the major movers and shakers over there.
He was trying to help the Cavern Club and find out what we could do better, but he came back and told us something none of us ever thought he would say. Liverpool was far more integrated and developed in terms of marketing the product than anywhere else he visited and yet it was not over-commercialised and corporate with big names trying to make money.
We had got the balance just right.
After John Lennon's death in 1980, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and thought that The Beatles were a passport to making millions of pounds.
But they quickly realised that you can't just put the band's name to any old product and expect it to sell. There were a lot of investments and projects that just didn't work.
The year 1984 was a big one for Liverpool, almost as big as Capital of Culture, because it is another example of a time when the city was trying to reinvent itself.
The Beatles museum opened, supported by Radio City, work was started on the Cavern Mecca and the Cavern Walks and Royal Insurance rebuilt The Cavern Club, 50% of which was on its original site. But mostly, it all failed. Only chippings of the projects survived. The Beatles Shop and Cavern City Tours were the only things left.
The reason for that was because we were in the mid-eighties. No one was interested in The Beatles, we were in the middle of a punk revolution. Kids were reacting against everything.
The Beatles were not as big as they are now.
I remember reading an editorial in NME Magazine when The Beatles split and it said we wouldn't know if they really would go down in history unless they were still famous in three years.
Well, 35 years down the line, there is more interest in them than ever before.
We have been excellent in marketing for The Beatles fanatics; those people who can tell you the tracks on every album.
But we haven't been able to reach the general public, who are just interested.
People come to Liverpool to visit Beatles tourist attractions from 40 different countries and we don't have the resources to market in 40 different countries.
Certainly Capital of Culture and a major marketing drive that is taking place as part of a new committee MBIG - Music and Beatles Industry Group - will help fill those marketing gaps.
Tomorrow is the first day of International Beatle Week 2005. The Beatles have endorsed this event and we are expecting a record number of people.
If that isn't doing it properly, then I don't know what is.
-We haven't done enough but we're getting there
NO SAYS Jerry Goldman, director of the Beatles Story Museum
THE marketing of Beatles products in Liverpool has always been diverse.
We have the Magical Mystery Tours, the Cavern Club, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields and the Beatles Story Museum to name but a few.
Nobody is going to get on a plane from any distance just to see one of these attractions alone.
Until recently, there was no organised attempt to market all these different products together.
That was our weakness; there was no vehicle to get the message out there to tourists that they could come to Liverpool and fill four or five days visiting Beatles attractions.
About 21/2 years ago, the Beatles Story forged links with Cavern City Tours who run the Magical Mystery Tours because we saw that the two products could be used side by side. Together we managed to create a stronger message to send out to the world.
We then set about showing Liverpool Culture Company that The Beatles were a strong tool for selling Liverpool overseas.
The Culture Company then set up the Beatles Industry Group (BIG) and helped set up a forum of consultants to help all us all look at what we had already, what market we were looking at, and how to position ourselves.
It was interesting when we spoke to one lady, who was on the consultancy team. She was young, she had been to Oxford University, was well travelled, she had been in Paris for some time and she was a big Beatles fan.
She was just the kind of person we were trying to attract to the city and we thought she must have been to Liverpool before, but she hadn't.
We asked her if she knew what Liverpool had to offer. She replied that she had heard about the Cavern Club, but didn't know it was still open.
She presumed there must be a house that John Lennon had lived in somewhere in Liverpool. She thought there must be some sort of museum, but she didn't really know.
Our message hadn't got out to her or fans like her.
BIG, which has since been renamed MBIG, the M is for music, was formed about a year ago to tackle that very problem.
We have spent much of that time putting in place a more efficient message.
We know that every October the major travel companies start looking at projects for the following year, so we are planning a marketing attack to make the most of that.
Recently, a group of us went out to Pisa to promote The Beatles and the recently established flight link between Pisa and Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
A Liverpool tribute band, the Mersey Beatles, staged a concert in a square, which was attended by more than 4,000 people.
The event was so successful we are hoping to organise more like it.
We will probably never do enough, because the scope and potential of The Beatles brand is enormous, but we are certainly getting better at maximising the benefits of the Fab Four to the city.