Jamies Italian Nottingham – A brief review

After ages of waiting and not quite being bothered with the queues, I finally went to Jamies Italian in Nottingham for lunch yesterday and I was really rather impressed.

I can’t say I was completely blown away with the amazing tastes and flavours, but the food was certainly lovely and I did have very high expectations, so I was probably heading for a fall.

We both had different bruschetta starters, one tomato based and one mushroom based, which were actually the highlight for me. The tomato one wasn’t as classically made as the Carluccio’s version and had ricotta cheese in it, which was a surprise (but a nice one). The mushroom one, was just gorgeous and full of flavour. The main courses of a ragu based pasta and a carbonara were okay, but not really mind blowing. As we had starters we only had the mini mains and they were a good size and really good value for the quality of the food we were eating.

A few things did stand out though.

They were very quick to offer and bring a jug of tap water, which is good.

The staff were excellent, really friendly, helpful and knowledgable.

The wine was a bit on the steep side. £4.95 for an okay 175ml glass of rose is not terribly cheap.

The menu was a bit confusing. I was staring at it for a few minutes to a) find the beer and b) make sense of how to work it.

But they have created a lovely conversion in the building and it was a happy buzzing place to be on a lunchtime and probably near full.

£33.00 for lunch isn’t an everyday thing for me, but as a treat, it was money very well spent.

Enjoy Life, Enjoy Ainol

If I was going to launch a new brand, I probably wouldn’t call it Ainol. Some Potty mouth people may misinterpret the name as being vaguely rude sounding. But according to the Chinese company Ainol, They’ve launched an iPad 2 killer at a FRACTION of the price.

The Ainol tablet - iPad 2 Killer? Who knows, but anyway, according to them, you should 'Enjoy life, enjoy Ainol'
The Ainol tablet - iPad 2 Killer? Who knows, but anyway, according to them, you should 'Enjoy life, enjoy Ainol'

Looks okay doesn’t it?

I think they are being pretty brave using the iPad2 trademark in their own marketing, as Samsung have already had to remove their Galaxy Tab from sale due to some Apple patent infringements. (and the fact that it’s an almost exact copy).

The best bit for me is their strapline that they are using to take Europe by storm. “Enjoy life, enjoy Ainol”. I wouldn’t have chosen the brand name and I certainly wouldn’t have chosen the strapline to go with it.

Ainol Strapline 'Enjoy life, enjoy Ainol'

I’ll leave you judge for yourself whether you think it will be a sales success in Europe.

A dog at work makes you more efficient

Over the least few weeks my dog Frankie MooMoo Thumbelina the Schnauzer puppy has been coming to work with me and i’m convinced it’s making me work more efficiently as I now have to work to a very specific routine to keep her happy through the day.

Frankie comes to work at Purple Circle
Frankie comes to work at Purple Circle

What this means is that you work in small windows and take proper breaks. So from 08.00-10.30 I know I have to get things finished before I take her for a walk. Then 11.00 until around 2ish and then another longer walk. And then work through until we go home again.

In these 2-3 hour windows, rather than putting things off until later as I normally do, I have been aiming (and succeeding) in getting things completed and out.

It’s also introduced me to some beautiful parks in the city that I didn’t really know about. St Mary’s Rest Garden is not big, but it is beautiful for a city park that is council run. It’s looked after by one chap on his own, who takes great pride in his work place.

St Mary's Rest Garden in Nottingham City Centre
St Mary's Rest Garden in Nottingham City Centre

So, i’m not saying you need to bring a dog with you to consider changing the way you work, but think in smaller windows rather than whole days and it seems to me that you start working an awful lot more efficiently.

Hawaii Five-O and product placement

My family are away in Spain without me at the moment, so I have been using my time wisely and watching all the back episodes of the remake of Hawaii Five-O.

A few things jump out for me.

1. It has the most unsubtle product placement I have ever seen, with the sponsors ‘Holiday Inn’ dragged into almost every story as some part of the plotline. So for example, when a witness needed to be moved, they sent her off to the Holiday Inn rather than an un-named hotel.

2. The cars throughout are Chevrolets. And I now want a Camaro. I guess it is a mid-life crisis, but I think it’s the sort of subtle car I need for cruising around Nottingham. It will sit well in our car park, next to Mich’s diesel Smart ForTwo. He would be sort of an offset for my huge fuel consumption if I drove this around town.

Chevrolet Camaro from Hawaii Five-O - I want one
Chevrolet Camaro from Hawaii Five-O - I want one

3. The series is so silly and glossy – almost like a a set designer has spent a few weeks watching Spooks over here and copied all their tech tricks.

4. There are some brilliant references to the old series though. My favourite so far was when McGarret was about to get Danno to do the line and he stopped him and said ‘Don’t even say it’ when he was about to say ‘book him Danno, Murder one’.

So does product placement work in this context?

For me, it has drilled the concept of going to Hawaii for my 50th into the front of my mind (in four years, before you ask), just so I can use the gag. And it’s made me want a Camaro, so yes, I guess it has.

Will I do either though?

I doubt it.

So Product placement works in a few ways. It changes perceptions for high value products and has a chance of conversion to a sale on low value, more immediate product.

If it’s done well and built into the story, it can work. Okay, more research.

Place Branding needs a dramatic sense of place

One of the things that has struck me since living in Nottingham is that there are very few world class landmarks for people to use in their iconic shots to sum up their visit. We all know it should be the castle, but i’m afraid that will never happen.

London’s images are ever changing, but the London Eye, the Swiss Re, the upcoming Shard and maybe Canary Wharf are amongst the most the most used. This shows that modern stuff can take over from the more traditional images of  Big Ben, Whitehall, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.

I grew up in a suburb of Oxford called Headington (close to my beloved Oxford United’s old Manor Ground) and we had one amazing one, which was this massive pair of kicking legs coming out of the roof of the Moulin Rouge Cinema.

The Moulin Rouge Cinema in Oxford - Sadly no more, but the legs were amazing
The Moulin Rouge Cinema in Oxford - Sadly no more, but the legs were amazing. Photograph: © Graham Paul Smith

And then in 1986 the now famous Shark arrived and it’s now 25 years old.

The Shark in the roof in Headington, Oxford
The Shark in the roof in Headington, Oxford

So what has this got to do with branding?

Well, it’s partly a nostalgic look back for me, but it is also a reminder that creating a brand for a place is more than just using pictures of dreaming spires, or lush meadows by the Thames, it takes some brave design and an inspirational character (or two) to make it happen. And this is the same for any brand too.

To stand out in a crowded market, you have to stand out, just like my favourite shark.

Jack Rabbit beer commercial – Rude but funny

I’m not sure what it says about the Jack Rabbit beer brand or it’s brand values, other than the fact that it is a beer aimed at lads, but I did actually laugh at the end.

I do think that it is funny enough to help establish this as a world renowned beer. Whoever did it should be proud, you have an excellent, world-class and brave client.