Sunday, 20 July 2008

More Cohen

There are more videos of Thursday's Leonard Cohen Concert now on You Tube. So here is a longer one of Hallelujah.

South Carolina not 'So Gay'

The media frenzy around our ads for South Carolina is intensifying and moving round the world.

In South Carolina, the State newspaper again have an article.

In the UK, the Guardian and the Independent have big articles.

It has reached Northern Ireland and Taiwan.

It is being reported in newspapers across the USA.

I understand that the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) have issued a statement as follows -
“We would like to congratulate Amro Holidays and Out Now Consulting on a phenomenal advertising campaign. The very creative campaign was thought provoking and created discussions worldwide about gay travel and the diversity of destinations that LGBT travelers visit. We are honored to have both of these outstanding companies as members of IGLTA!”

Hey - thanks guys.

And all of this from one small ad on one tube line in the London underground. Ian from Out Now Consulting who devised and led the advertising campaign has managed the media interest brilliantly and truthfully (not always the same thing).

So at last we are getting the name of Amro Worldwide known throughout the gay and lesbian community and beyond. All thanks to a naive and rather stupid Senator and Governor in South Carolina who felt unable to resist making bigoted and, frankly, untruthful comments.

And who knows? We may have made the people of South Carolina address issues which previously they had never addressed. And some of them might have started to realise that they actually don't mind attracting gay travellers. That in fact they have no real problems with sexual diversity. As Michael (Mouse) Tolliver said in Tales of the City - [there are] people who don't consider sexuality in measuring the worth of a human being.

If we have made some people in South Carolina accept their spirit of tolerance, then not only has Amro Worldwide benefited, but hopefully South Carolina as well.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Amro Worldwide

Where do I start with this one?

It's been a surreal week, and I've only been on the edge of it.

Let's start at the beginning. Andrew wanted a new type of advertising for the travel business and hit on doing panels on the London Underground around the time of Pride. To spread the cost he dealt with 5 American states who were happy to come on board. The 'So Gay' campaign was launched. At the last minute, South Carolina asked us if they could join the campaign and we agreed.

So for the past 2 weeks we have had a series of posters running up Leicester Square Underground advertising a number of American states as well as advertising Amro Worldwide. The tag line is 'so gay' as in 'Las Vegas is So Gay', 'South Carolina is So Gay' etc. The reasoning was that this reclaimed this phrase for the gay community and showed the attractions of each destination for gay and lesbian travellers.

The campaign was launched and went very well.

Then a blog in South Carolina objected to public money going to fund a campaign to attract gay travellers. The blog should have just been ignored but suddenly a Senator and then the Governor in Sough Carolina agreed and demanded that the ad be pulled and stated that they would not pay for the campaign. The person who approved the campaign was made to resign.

Suddenly the story grew and by today it has been featured in numerous US newspapers, blog sites, television news broadcasts etc and also now by media outlets in Britian.

This has given Amro Worldwide publicity and focus which we could never have afforded to buy. For us it has suddenly put Amro in the spotlight and hopefully shown the gay community that we are a serious travel company in their market.

As examples, it has been reported on by Time magazine in the States and the Guardian over here as well as on American television and on various blogsites.

It's all amazing. I can't believe the welter of publicity which at the moment shows no signs of abating. I am sure that the Senator and Governor regret what they have started. Amro, meanwhile, will continue to tell the truth and hopefully gather the positive exposure from the story.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Leonard Cohen in concert

I was privileged to see Leonard Cohen live in concert last might at the O2 arena in London.

The arena was a bit of a problem. It is too large for what should have been a more intimate concert. In particular during the whole concert, there were people going out, getting drinks, bringing them in. There were many people taking flash photographs when they were so far from the stage that all the flash would have done is illuminate some of the heads which would have been in the way. All of this, for me, spoiled the atmosphere.

But Leonard Cohen was brilliant and so were his band. His songs, his poetry is magnificent. I saw him in concert in Edinburgh in about 1978 and never thought I'd get the opportunity to do so again. To hear the master sing Suzanne, Bird on the Wire, Sisters of Mercy and, of course, Hallelujah was fantastic. Thank you Leonard.

Here is a short clip of Hallelujah at last night's concert.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Scattering the ashes

The final farewell.

Today we went over to Crathie, as I had done with my Mum on many previous occasions. This time, though, it was with the urn of her ashes to be scattered around the family plot in Crathie churchyard.

When we got there, the churchyard was deserted, which was just as I had hoped. Suddenly an old guy arrived - obviously the caretaker. And he hovered around the whole time, which was a pity. So the leaving of the ashes in the churchyard was not as private nor as unhurried as I'd have liked it to have been. But we did it, and finally my Mum is laid to rest.

Then we went to Braemar for lunch and on to the Linn of Dee, another place where we had been many times previously with my Mum. And finally to the top dam at Lochnagar Distillery where my Mum and played and swam as a child.

I think it was a fitting tribute to my mother and to the place of her childhood.

'Years have rolled on, Lochnagar, since I left you
Years must roll on ere I see you again
Though Nature of verdure and flowers bereft you
Yet still art thou dearer than Albion's plain
England! thy beauties are tame and domestic
To one who has roved on the mountains afar
Oh for the crags that are wild and majestic
The steep frowning glories o' wild Lochnagar'

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Wester Ross

This weekend both my sister and I are up to be with my Dad and, on Sunday, to go over to Crathie to scatter my Mum's ashes in the churchyard there.

But first today we went for a drive in the car. Quite a long drive actually. In fact we drove over to Inverness and then north westwards through Garve, Achnasheen, Kinlochwewe and finally to Gairloch on Scotland's north-west coast.

It was a glorious day - warm and sunny. There were people sunbathing and even swimming at Gairloch. It is a magical place on a day like this and I enjoyed just walking around, taking in the views of the mountains to the east and the sea and islands out to the west.

When I was a kid, we spend a number of holidays in this area in a caravan or a rented cottage, and since then I have visited on a number of occasions. Gairloch never fails to get to me in an emotional way.

This time of course there was an added bitter-sweet response. I had always been here with my Mum. She loved the place as well. So each time I took a photo, I remembered old photos both of the early visits when I was a kid and of later visits.

But it was right to come here and my Dad enjoyed the experience.

From Gairloch we drove via Poolewe round via Gruinard Bay - still in my opinion the most beautiful road in the world. There was a feeling of moving on, but also of remembering past visits with pleasure and almost of still being able to talk to my mum and remind her of past visits.

It was a great day.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Leonard Cohen at Glastonbury

I am really looking forward to seeing Leonard Cophen at the O2 on 17 July. He has been receiving rave reviews for the concerts he has done so far, including his set at Glastonbury. Here is part of that set.