Beckton Gas Works was in East London, at one time it covered 500 acres, but now it’s mainly rubble.
Stanley Kubrick used it to film Full Metal Jacket.
He lived in England and he didn’t like flying, so he turned Beckton into the city of Hue.
Some palm trees, some Vietnamese posters, lots of smoke, the rubble looked perfect.
When I was a kid, we used to walk around the abandoned buildings, but it was just weeds and junk, nothing interesting.
Later, when I had a job descaling boilers, we had to deliver hydrochloric acid there.
The decayed buildings stayed in place because it wasn’t worth the cost of removing them.
It also wasn’t worth the cost of removing the giant slag-tip they’d created.
Over the decades, it had gradually formed into a huge hill.
When the A13 was turned into a modern road, it passed right by Beckton slag-tip.
But it was an ugly thing, and Beckton Slag Tip is not something you want written on a sign on a nice new road.
Given they couldn’t move it, they had to decide what to do with it.
So they thought, let’s pretend it’s something else, let’s put fake grass all over it and change it into a dry ski-slope.
And they did that, and changed the name to Beckton Alps.
Princess Di came along to the opening of Beckton Alps, and Franz Klammer, the Olympic ski champion, came to ski down it for the cameras.
Do you think anyone was fooled by changing the name of Beckton slag-tip to Beckton Alps?
Did it suddenly become like a beautiful mountain?
No, it closed in 2001, because there is actually more to creating something that just changing the words.
The real Alps have clean-crisp air, real snow, ski lodges, and chair lifts.
But to marketing people changing the name is enough, if we say it’s the Alps it’s the Alps.
Which is pretty much where marketing people are, words are their reality.
If we call a thing creative, it’s creative.
We don’t have to worry if it’s original, exciting, relevant, catchy, memorable.
We’ll just call it creative and that makes it creative.
Just like Beckton slag-tip, put some plastic grass on it, change the name to Beckton Alps, and it’s the same as the real Alps.
Look for yourself on many agencies’ websites, they call themselves creative.
Now look at the work, it’s: dull, formulaic, ordinary, forgettable.
But it’s called creative.
And you know the word creative was added a long way after the work was done.
When they were putting a website together and someone had to write the blurb.
“Well we’ve got to add ‘creative’ somewhere, don’t forget to put that in.”
But you know real creativity was never anywhere near that work.
You know it was never in the thinking of the agency.
They can’t actually do real creativity, they don’t even know what it is, but they know clients like the word.
The word is there to disguise the standard of the work, to fool gullible clients.
Like putting a Porsche badge on a Volkswagen, so we can charge more for it.
It’s not a real Porsche, but who cares, people only look at the badge.
Just like the rest of marketing language, it has nothing to do with reality, it’s just dressing.
Just like Beckton slag-tip, let’s pretend it’s something else.