Grey Label, the Croydon-based marketing firm which has, inexplicably, somehow got a stranglehold on lucrative council and developers’ promotion contracts in and around the borough, has lost its deal for one of the town centre’s key developments.The Croydon firm – which some people still refer to as “White Label” – has been running the events, performance and market space at Platform, next to East Croydon Station, to the northern end of Ruskin Square, for the site owners, Stanhope and Schroders, since before the first building work got underway.
Platform, close to the exit from the Bridge to Nowhere – the open end of the bridge, that is – has not always been regarded as a rip-roaring success under Grey Label’s handling. A big screen for showing major sports events has proved to be less of an attraction than might have been expected, possibly because it was often switched off during key matches during the Wimbledon tennis championships. The screen has tended not to be used for football tournaments, largely on advice of the local constabulary, who are little nervous about large gatherings of fans with cans of lager in hand.
And Grey Label’s bright idea of turning Platform into a beach, dumping tons of coarse sand on the site, flopped badly last year, with the cool and wet summer deterring the public as much as the location, and leading to the site becoming better known as “the Croydon Ashtray”.
Bewonder, a specialist marketing and events organiser based in central London, has been handed the Platform contract for 2016, which is understood to be worth around £40,000. Bewonder is a subsidiary of JLL, Jones Lang Lasalle, one of the world’s biggest property management companies. Bewonder has previous experience of working on promotions with Schroders and Lend Lease, the builders working on the Ruskin Square site.
All is not lost for Grey Label, the agency established in 2010 by a couple of former staff with rich experience of working on ad sales on the Croydon Sadvertiser and other local newspapers.
Asked about their plans for Platform in 2016, a spokeswoman for Bewonder told Inside Croydon: “Construction at Ruskin Square is progressing at a rapid pace and we have a complex programme of works underway. Construction works have to be our priority but we are keen to include some exciting events and activity and are looking at options for a summer screen for Wimbledon and the Olympics and reintroducing a food market, accommodating activity when viable around the works.”
Under Croydon’s Tory-run council, Grey Label became ubiquitous in out-sourced promotional projects, and working closely with key business interests, a position which has barely altered since Labour won control of the Town Hall.
It is Grey Label which organises the Develop Croydon conference, setting delegate fees so high to exclude ordinary residents, small business owners and community groups. And trying to ban Inside Croydon. It is as if they wouldn’t want the people who live and work in Croydon actually to hear what the developers and speculators have in store for the area.
Grey Label’s pals in the council press office and in organisations such as Develop Croydon seem sure to keep them in business, with half-arsed council-funded gigs such as the Croydon Food Festival, or their own set of back-slapping business awards, and enjoying the sun in the south of France at junkets such as MIPIM, where they had three staff organising a stand last year.
But if they return to Cannes next week, they will need to make the most of it. Since it doesn’t look like Grey Label, a company which “believes in ‘making things happen’ for the companies we work for”, will get another chance to create an over-sized kids’ sandpit alongside the Croydon railway tracks again this year.
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