South west Hertfordshire has long been a hotbed of innovation. The revolutionary Chorleywood method of making cheaper bread was invented, unsurprisingly, by enterprising bakers in Chorleywood. The bouncing bombs used by the dambusters to cripple the Nazi war effort in the Second World War were tested and honed on a miniature reconstruction of the dam at BRE in Garston.
So it should come as little surprise that next month the area will be the launch pad for another avant-garde innovation – geographic advertising.
From February 17 Kings Langley will be renamed “Kings Landing” for a week to promote the release of the latest box set of the HBO series, Game of Thrones.
For those not au fait with Game of Thrones, it’s a blood-spattered historical fantasy loosely based on the War of The Roses and Kings Landing is the name of the capital city in the fictional kingdom where the series is supposedly based.
In practical terms the ad campaign will simply consist of the two signs at either end of the village being changed to Kings Landing ones, presumably in a mock medieval style.
This week, Dacorum Borough Council was quick to laud the benefits it feels the initiative will bring to the village, saying the stunt “is sure to drive tourism to the local area and business”.
Alan Anderson, a borough and parish councillor for the village, added: “This re-naming is a great opportunity to put Kings Langley and Dacorum on the map.
“You can’t ignore the parallels between Kings Langley’s own rich history and the themes in the show such as battling kings and warring families.”
The politicians are clearly pleased with the triumph. But it may have been an idea to ask people in the village whether they wanted it turned into a giant advertising stunt to aid a TV series most of them will not have watched. Instead they were presented with a fait accompli.
Plus it is not entirely clear what “putting Kings Langley and Dacorum on the map” will do, precisely, to enhance the lives of the villagers. But it appears to be a desirable goal for the council.
Whatever supposed boon this will bring to the village it will be far outweighed by what HBO will gain from it – especially as all the corporation will have to pay towards this massive advertising coup is the price of two signs, a result that must have had the HBO ad execs rubbing their eyes in disbelief.
Now councils are not notorious for their business acumen, but in such straitened economic times can local authorities afford to pass up such lucrative opportunities?
I am sure this potential money-spinning innovation will not pass unnoticed at other town halls in the area.
This precedent could open up a whole new market of temporary geographic branding for hard-up local authorities.
Who could blame Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, if she is now tempted to temporarily christen our town WatFord Mondeo, to celebrate the latest iteration of the popular saloon car. For a fee, naturally.
Or perhaps Three Rivers District Council could cash in with temporary rebrandings such as Because Your RickmansWorth It, or Sarratt: The Best a Man Can Get. The possibilities are limitless.