National Trust opens the Big Brother house in a commercially daring stunt
By Jade Mansell on Monday, September 9, 2013
A bold PR move was today announced by the National Trust: it will be opening the Big Brother house to the public in a bid to communicate a ‘funnier’ image.
The National Trust is better known as the custodian of the UK’s most important, and often historic, properties, so the news that it is providing guided tours of a television residence which has created so many new celebrities and endless tabloid gossip is causing quite a stir.
Former MP Ann Widdecombe said: “I won’t be burning my [National Trust] membership card because of this, but I don’t think it’s part of their mission. Something has to stand the test of time before you can call it heritage.”
The property, housed on a plot at the Elstree TV studios, has been seen by millions during the many series on Channel 4 and Channel 5, and will be open to the public on September 27 and 28.
Ivo Dawney, London Director of the Trust, told the Today programme: “It’s about time the Trust was a bit funnier, and I’m on a mission to make it so.
“The Big Brother house is a special place. It says something about the epoch we’re living through.”
Such a stunt is unprecedented from a brand with such a loyal following, and it’s hard not to speculate that it’s been designed solely for instant national hits. This raises the question – when the stunt would be baffling to the target audience, does brand talkability amongst the public and the media remain valuable?
It’s true that the National Trust has something of a stuffy reputation, but this move to ‘wacky’ PR seems too extreme an expression of being culturally relevant and ‘down with the kids’ to be taken seriously. There’s been quite the debate in the WPR office regarding the notion that, for our generation the Big Brother House is culturally relevant and therefore it’s not so bold for the Trust to do this. What do you think? Is it cool PR gone too far or a savvy comment on society?
Whether this move will raise the credibility of the Trust and increase membership is debatable, but it’s certainly got the media talking. The story was released today and has thus far seen coverage on BBC News, Daily Mirror, The Sun, The Independent, Metro, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Digital Spy and countless others.