Forget the ‘new normal’, tourism chiefs promote Never Normal Brighton

Posted On 09 Dec 2020 at 2:46 pm

As people look forward to the post-coronavirus “new normal”, tourism chiefs are reaching out with a campaign to attract them to Never Normal Brighton.

The campaign builds on the oft-quoted line that Brighton couldn’t do normal if it tried.

And it follows the temporary rebranding of the tourism agency Visit Brighton as Don’t Visit Brighton in the summer as concerns grew about seafront crowds making social distancing difficult.

Visit Brighton promotes the city to visitors from home and abroad, working in partnership with more than 500 businesses across Brighton and Hove and the wider Sussex area.

Its latest campaign came from an idea by Brighton agency Designate which subverted the phrase “the new normal” to point to what makes the city so special.

It encourages people to escape the mundanity of this year with a trip to Brighton, combining eye-catching images and a creative and an irreverent tone and by showcasing its exciting and offbeat culture.

Designate – a “top 50” agency, according to the leading trade publication Campaign – cuts through the depressing and repetitive communications associated with the pandemic.

Faye Carré, Designate’s creative director, said: “During the pandemic we were monitoring how people were responding to communications around coronavirus and we knew that audiences were tired of hearing the same gloomy phrases and the bleak messaging.

“Designate has been part of Brighton culture for 30 years so, when we came up with the Never Normal campaign idea, we knew it was perfect.

“That’s what people love about Brighton – it’s the people, the culture and the sense of freedom.

“Our unconventional campaign is full of life, subversive and has flex to work across the ever-changing coronavirus restrictions.

“But crucially it also has life beyond the pandemic – Brighton will definitely never be normal.

“Our approach at Designate is to find that elusive part of the brand … and make people pay attention.”

There are four phases to the campaign which is initially targeting Brighton residents, then day trippers from around the South East.

Next it will be aimed at family and friends of residents who might want to plan an overnight stay – and finally the aim is to attract long-stay visitors and even those from overseas.

Designate came up with the concept by looking at what makes Brighton unique and focused on its free-thinking nature and unusual heritage buildings.

The agency said: “They knew Brighton had never been normal, deciding to play on the phrase coined during the pandemic: ‘The New Normal’.

“The team began working on the campaign during June, commissioning local street photographers Kevin Meredith and JJ Waller, as well as collaborating with more than 500 partners of Visit Brighton, who shared photos to use as part of the creative.

“Honest and authentic images of the people and places fuel the campaign. It features well-known Brighton characters with the phrase ‘Welcome to Never Normal Brighton’, or the outlandish Royal Pavilion, illuminated at night with the tagline: ‘We’ve always been open to the unusual.’

“Another image shows a photo of tourist attraction the Upside Down House with the phrase: ‘Looking for the new normal? Keep Looking. Brighton is coming back to life, but if you’re looking for the new normal, you might be in the wrong place.’”

Visit Brighton’s head of sales, marketing and partnerships Julia Gallagher said: “When we saw Designate’s Never Normal concept we loved it – it’s a simple but bold idea which reflects the free-spirited atmosphere of the city.

“People love Brighton because it is a place where you can be yourself and are free to do things differently – we couldn’t do normal if we tried!

“As Visit Brighton we have our own ideas about what makes the city special but we cannot wait to see what everyone else thinks makes us #NeverNormalBrighton.”

Designate’s executive director Adam Hill said: “We were passionate about working on this project as we’re a Brighton agency.

“We take a lot of pride in our city and wanted to help it get back on its feet but we’re also a Campaign top 50 national agency that has worked with some of the world’s best-known brands.

“We understood that the people and the culture will make people want to visit much more than a traditional sunset beach shot.

“This campaign functions as a rallying cry and reminds us about what’s amazing about this city and celebrates it.”

  1. Greens Out Reply

    Unfortunately, on their Twitter feed it comes up as ‘Visit Brighton -Never…..’

    Which this council and its predecessors are doing a good job of making sure people won’t want to.

    Also, Visit Brighton – Never, failed to notice that by not being ‘normal’ the so-called christmas lights are the same as last year, and the year before, and the year before that, the one before that too….quite possibly the year prior to that as as well. Very ‘On it’ aren’t they.

  2. Hendra Reply

    We could do with having normal people run the Council. Instead, we have a bunch of cretins. And, as for the councillors – clueless Green ideologues and twisted Labour Momentum clowns. Something’s gotta change

    • Nigel Furness Reply

      “Something’s gotta change,” says Hendra—AND SOMETHING WILL!—sooner than the CALAMATOUS COALITION realises too.
      As I’ve said many times over recent weeks, in an ironic way I’m glad to see this Coalition in power, for the simple reason that it’s given BOTH the villains of the piece—Momentum and those ‘Greens,’ the opportunity to reveal themselves in their true colours—and BOY, they’ve lost no time in proving me right!
      That accomplished, I now, publicly challenge EACH and EVERY ‘Green’ and Momentum City Councillor, to come out of their closets and CONFESS their REAL political persuasions—MARXISTS, ONE AND ALL!!
      By way of proof, we can all clearly see from the vast majority of comments on this site, in the Local Radio Channels’ ‘phone-ins, from talking to the ‘man-in-the street,’ etc. etc. that the ‘NO LONGER SO SILENT MAJORITY’ have miraculously re-discovered their voices of late and they cannot understand why this Council seems hell-bent on trashing our City’s tourism-driven economy.
      Well I CAN understand! Cast aside their CROCODILE TEARS for the ruinous state of our hospitality businesses under LOCKDOWN and ask ‘Leader’ Phelim MacCafferty WHY (given that we have virtually the LOWEST covid rate in the country), he consistently refuses to support them by DEMANDING that our Unitary Authority be graded in TIER 1, as a unit in it’s own right—and NOT lumped in as a part of SUSSEX—from which, after a fiercely-fought campaign, we LIBERATED ourselves in 1997!
      Marxists DETEST businesses and enterprise unless they’re run by the State with them at the helm and the lessons of history prove that they achieve their aims by infiltrating bodies such as Trade Unions, Community Associations,protest groups and Political Parties (NEVER under their TRUE political labels, of course).
      By these means they set about UNDERMINING Councils and Parliaments until they’re sufficiently weak to be OVERTHROWN.
      And we mustn’t forget what a godsend the draconian LOCKDOWN LAWS have proved to be to these TOWN HALL TYRANTS—from pop-up cycle lanes to Covid Cops.
      For those readers who are concerned with the potential damages which these incompetents may wreak upon our City between now and the next Local elections in 2023 (always assuming that they may NOT take place if we’re still under Lockdown), we still have an option, however.
      Seeing as the Coalition has openly encouraged it’s sundry MARXIST chums to turn us into a City of Protest then it’s surely high time they learned that TWO can play THAT game!
      We must regain our will and regain our feet and STOUTLY but PEACEFULLY block any further attempts at hair-brained schemes which they may be plotting to impose upon us from on-high and SAVE OUR CITY.
      They SHALL NOT pass!
      They SHALL NOT pass

  3. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Unfortunately, Hendra, and you have this absolutely right, we are ‘governed’ (very very badly or even not at all) by an apparently secret coalition of Greens and Momentum Labour. The Green alleged council leader has been totally silent and invisible for a long time. Perhaps, come the next council elections, normal people, of which there must be very many thousands, and maybe even a majority in the city, could engage their brains, realise the damage that these cretins are doing and not vote for them. I have no hope that this will happen, unfortunately.

  4. BAHTAG Reply

    Sadly this campaign sounds like more squandering of taxpayers money on yet another ‘Vanity Project’!

    To be clear, ‘Visit Brighton’ is simply a branch of our City Council (just as CityClean is our municipal cleansing dept.), which implies that the incompetence & ineptitude that continues to blight the culture of City HQ in Hove Town Hall can been seen in this initiative (and will Designate be paid by reference to whatever economic benefits to our City Council’s budget have been achieved?).

    Perhaps a foolish question – it’s difficult to conceive of Council officers negotiating any true payment-by-results contract?

    Ah yes; the first litter goons contract – but most of the money from their fixed-penalty notices went to their employer, and not into our City’s coffers!

    And since this thread is about Tourism one doesn’t have to be a PhD to recognise the adverse impression on visitors generated by such a Draconian STASI-like enforcement regime being touted around the world on social media, surely?

    And now our City’s ‘Bullying Council’ has replaced the contracted goons with in-house ones. So do we now have an ‘Acceptable face of enforcement’?

    Ahhh, if only!
    The bullying culture of our City Council has placed these in-house Environmental Enforcement Officers in a uniform that, to someone under the stress of being booked, will look far too much like a PCSO – intimidation or what?

    Certainly a long way from the friendliness of the Promettes hostesses that Brighton Corporation was once so proud to have introduced!

    And on a gloriously sunny weekend this summer what did our Council do – it moaned about the large amount of litter beach-goers had deposited next to waste bins which were already fulĺ!

    Blaming tidy-minded visitors for having done their best with the bins already full is hardly the way to ‘Make friends and influence people’, surely?

    And yet the solution was so simple; just put CityClean staff on an overtime deal to run a shuttle-service to empty every beach bin before it becomes full!

    And then there’s the debacle of Visit Brighton’s sub-standard hotel selection website!

    The first failing is that only hoteliers who pay actually get an entry on the site.

    Sorry, but each accommodation business pays Council Tax (aka NNDR) so, to assist intending visitors, EVERY establishment needs to be given a free basic entry (with the option of a more advertorial entry for those wishing to pay for a premium listing). And perhaps even Air B&B-style lets should be listed?

    And given our Council’s policy of promoting a ‘Digital City’ the Visit Brighton website needs a world-class
    selection function; with many search parameters, with a way of placing the chosen search parameters in order of importance to the searcher; to be able to save searches on the website; and to be able to edit a previous search without having to re-enter all the parameters of that first search etc.

    Doubtless somewhere in the world a truly-excellent visitor accommodation selection site is up and running (in whatever language, so perhaps in China or Japan?), so getting that aspect right, and developing a Council culture welcoming to visitors (such as left-luggage facilities at, or near, Brighton station), feels like a much better investment than a vacuous spin-doctored publicity campaign, surely?

    Or is it the ineptitude of our Council’s approach to ‘encouraging’ tourism that City taxpayers are intended to find amusing, in some ironic way?

  5. Angela Taylor Reply

    I must admit I think it is awful. People crave the old normal. Not the new normal or a weird version of normal. They want the freedom to just get on an Easyjet flight and go and explore the world or party and to forget all this. Not to go somewhere where weird old men stick fish over their eyes.

  6. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    A word is mysteriously absent from all this: Hove.

  7. Fishwife, 49 Reply

    “The oft-quoted line that Brighton couldn’t do normal if it tried”? I’ve lived here for over a quarter of a century and been involved in the tourism and entertainment industry for most of that time, and never heard it. Where exactly has it been quoted? Is it printed on one of those shonky off-brand cuddly toys you can win on the pier?

  8. Peter Poole Reply

    It is a shame that Designate do not think fit to reference Hove in their ‘never normal’ campaign, but perhaps Hove residents have got used to their norm of being ignored. However, perhaps it is a backhanded compliment to the saner of the two, uneasily merged towns.

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