Columnist MIKE WELSH reflects on another another seven days in the national capital
SO, we’re now officially the Bush Capital. Or at least we will soon be according to our numberplates, but has the ACT missed the opportunity to partake in a little ambush marketing?
You see, for the best part of the first decade of this century, SA proudly emblazoned its plates with “The Festival State”, and so far as I can tell, they didn’t give motorists a choice of slogans. If you lived there, you got those plates, until they decided it was more efficient to go with a simple “South Australia” under the registration. Either that or they ran out of power before adding a new slogan, but I digress…
Anyhow, Canberra is now the Festival City. We have the Multicultural Festival, The Comedy Festival, The Wine Harvest Festival, The Folk Festival and more. You could justifiably throw other events into the mix that don’t include the word “festival” in their names such as Enlighten, Floriade, Australia Day and Christmas in the City.
While this proliferation of festivals (and the increasing promotion of our festivals far and wide) means an increasing number of things for locals and visitors to do; it also means an increasing number of people attending the festivals. And it’s this increasing number of people that could give Canberra a unique marketing edge.
If you are one of the tens of thousands who went to the Enlighten Night Noodle Markets or if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands who crammed into the Multicultural Festival, I’m sure one of your memories will be the time you had to stand in queues. Ten or 15 minutes in a line for a burger or a piece of lamb on a gourmet bun, five minutes to eat it, then another 10 minutes in a different line for some marinated bacon or a wild rice dish. The notable exception being the number of people selling potato on a stick, they are so plentiful you can almost be served before you order at some of them.
It does speak to the quality and popularity of the food on offer that queuing for sustenance has become de rigueur for our events, but it means we’re missing out on a huge number of people.
There are certain places where people know how to queue. Domestically, think of Melbourne. They’ll stand in line for ages to get their hands on a tall, half-caff, half-soy, half-goat-milk cappucino with a splash of caramel syrup and a Madagascan vanilla bean served in a latte glass down there. Can’t you see it now? “Come to Canberra for a festival, stand in a queue, it’s just like being in Melbourne”.
Why stop at Melbourne? Londoners and Brits know how to queue properly as do New Yorkers and there are still plenty of Russians who would remember the days of Communism where it wasn’t uncommon for people to join a queue first and ask what they were queuing for later.
It could become a year round marketing push. Put all of Canberra’s festivals and events under one banner: “The Canberra Queuing Festival”. You know it’s a winning idea, so get on board. Take a number and join the queue to support it.
Chris Coleman presents “Canberra Live”, 3pm-6pm, weekdays on 2CC.