Belfast entrepreneur Emma Bricknell set social media alight this week after asking followers for their opinions on some risque advertising she was considering for her business.
Emma, 41, who owns the Made In Belfast chain of restaurants across the city shared a provocative advert design on Facebook featuring a woman licking a sausage and wrote: “One of our new Brunch adverts……clever sausage or NOT! Belfast Brainers I would love your thoughts please, a girl is not an Island in advertising ?”
And while the response to the concept ad she was considering to promote the restaurant’s new weekend brunch menu was mostly positive, it rubbed many up the wrong way.
One fellow hospitality entrepreneur Janine Kane, who owns a number of establishments across the city including The Spaniard, Muriels, Pablos, said: “You will help drag NI into the 21st, 22nd and 23rd century. Love it.”
While another supporter Ciaran added: “Love it, provocative is the way to go in advertising, why would you be shy about what you believe in, looks class.”
Some people loved it, but were concerned how others might take it.
Speaking on the Facebook thread Sharon said: “It’s very cheeky…I like cheeky but this is Norn Ireland…keep breaking the boxes.”
One woman thought it was sexist.
Carla wrote: “It’s certainly attention grabbing but advertising despite popular opinion isn’t just about awareness. I’m not sure this would make me want to eat in this place over the next.
“For me, it works for ‘attention’ gaining objectives but I wouldn’t ‘desire’ to eat there based on this. Probably wouldn’t put me off the place but defo wouldn’t persuade me positively. I’m not a fan of over-sexualising non-sexual products – oral sex is consensual and all that and maybe be some women will like this but on initial impact there’s something niggling me- the imagery seems a bit sexist rather than sexy if you know what I mean. “
Gillian said she thought the ad was “fab” and was “fed up with people being snowflakes”, she added it was “Time to drag this country into the correct century.”
But Dawn didn’t agree. She said: “The sexualised ad suggests it’s not family friendly.”
While Jason pointed out there may be many who wouldn’t like it: “I love it, bit of a conversation piece. I don’t think it will be to everyone’s taste, it really depends on her clientele. If she has a lot of church-goers. Maybe not a good idea.”
Alison said she wasn’t loving it adding that she was “Tired of all the porny, ‘sex sells’ gimmicks”.
Speaking about the original design Emma said: “Most people liked the weekend brunch concept ad, which is really, really positive. For some it was really funny and amusing. I think some people found it quite misogynistic and a bit sexist, and said it was a bit too overtly provocative for what we’re advertising.
“But to be clear, it wasn’t ongoing advertising we were considering for, it was for our Sunday Brunch Party coming up in August to help promote the weekend brunch.
“It was potentially going to be used as an invite for people like bloggers, media, vloggers and influencers.”
One comment on social was from Paul who said: “There’s only one thing it reminds me of and I’m sure it’s meant that way !!”
While Treena thought it should be given the Wonderbra treatment. She said: “Get that on the biggest billboard you can find….mind you Wonderbra did that and the huge increase in car bumps lol. Love this.”
But Cathy said: “I’d prefer it if a man was licking the sausage though.”
And Emma responded by getting her designer to create a male version of the same ad concept.
She said: “I think, as a business-owner it’s important to get people’s thoughts. I don’t want to offend people, unfortunately, you will always offend someone. Without asking people their thoughts on things at the start, I wouldn’t be where I am. I’m not self-made, everyone helped make this business that makes me.
“And I do take on board what they say.
“But I’m sick of hearing people say that Belfast isn’t ready, it’s getting ridiculous. We’re not in middle America. We’re a European city. Belfast is really coming into its own.
“There’s always people gonna find things offensive, and that’s fine. Some things are offensive, I don’t believe these ads are.
“Our tagline is ‘The second best reason to rise on a Sunday”. Maybe the first is church, or jogging or to procreate (afterall that’s what we’re here for). I don’t know, but I believe our brunch is the second best reason.”
After sharing the male version of the advert the responses came in thick and fast.
Lynn said: “Brilliant marketing! Deserves a share.”
While Simon added: “That’s certainly going to get people talking. Fantastic.”
Nicholas was very impressed. He said: “I got into advertising and marketing because this is the sort of thing I wanted to do. Disruptive marketing. Too many people are afraid of being different. So bloody good on you!”
Although she shared the advert concepts to mixed reaction Emma said she can’t lose sight of why she was doing it in the first place.
“In business you have to take risks, and I do, it’s how Made In Belfast are still here after a decade with three restaurants in the city centre and a fourth planned for Lisburn Road next year.
“However, I shared these concepts on my personal social media because although I am a risk taker I’m not oblivious to the fact that we’re a bigger company now. We have 90 people who have jobs and as business owners we have a responsibility to them. So I am careful of the risks I take. I’m not selfish, I do consider everyone’s opinion.
“I put it on my own profile rather than the restaurant’s because the final decision hadn’t yet been made as to whether we were going to use the adverts. We will probably use them as our invitations to the big Sunday Brunch Party in August but they were never intended as general advertising.”
To book your table at Made In Belfast go to madeinbelfast.com or connect with them on social #MadeInBelfast
Spectacular Ogham Grove Opens Tonight In Cathedral Quarter
Cathedral Quarters Writers’ Square will tonight (September 17) be transformed into a spectacular installation from the creative team for CNB21 Presents: The Ogham Grove.
From 6pm tonight through until Sunday evening visitors can experience an interactive celebration of the ancient druidic language, with massive representations of trees, sounds and lighting weaving a path of learning about the language and the chance to win prizes.
Ogham Grove replaces the previous city centre based programme of street based activity and pop-up events.
Although the plans for this year are monumental in size, Culture Night Belfast and CQ Trust director Susan Picken said visitors should not expect the same on-street celebration as years gone by.
Prior to the pandemic, Culture Night had been one of Belfast’s largest free events, a cultural celebration that attracted almost 90,000 local, national and international visitors to the Cathedral Quarter and Belfast city centre. The impact of COVID has led to a major review of the event however.
Susan said: “Culture Night 2021 will be much smaller in scale and scope and will take the form of an on-site installation that people can drop into and enjoy over the course of the weekend – this different format will allow us to focus on safety as well as making sure everyone has a great time.”
The brains behind the concept include creative lead Gawain Morrison, artist and prop designer Dylan McCaughtry, designer Neil Beattie, lighting designer Tomás FitzGerald and drum loop producer Damian Mills.
Gawain Morrison said that the concept of The Ogham Grove “draws inspiration from the ancient Celtic Ogham Tree alphabet which dives deep into the era where nature and myths intertwined”.
This year, as well as experiencing The Ogham Grove itself, visitors will be able to take part in an accompanying interactive experience that will lead them through the Cathedral Quarter, and also take them on a journey of personal discovery.
According to Gawain the immersive nature inspired trail and competition will mean visitors can take something special away from the experience.
“For somebody who will be coming to this, the several points of access means it is going to be a very experiential and sensory experience,” he explained.
“I hope that as visitors walk around whether it’s in the day or night, that they will take something away from it.”
Across the Cathedral Quarter area, there will be five zones each representing one of the five families of the Ogham alphabet.
To be eligible to win a prize, participants must find and scan a QR code found on one of the trail’s bespoke wooden plaques and take note of the lines of poetry displayed.
Prizes to be won include vouchers for restaurants, gift tokens to purchase your own pieces of art and tickets to shows coming up in the Cathedral Quarter and will be announced at the end of the Culture Night weekend.
This year’s Culture Night Belfast is supported by Belfast City Council, Arts Council for Northern Ireland, Tourism NI, Belfast Harbour Commissioners and Translink.
To keep up to date with all the CNB Presents The Ogham Grove updates go to culturenightbelfast.com or follow #CNB21 on social media
Issued by Excalibur Press on behalf of CNB Presents: The Ogham Grove
Cathedral Quarter BID Celebrates Success Of Street Beat Police Presence In Area
An initiative that saw additional dedicated police officers patrolling Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter has been welcomed as a proven success story by Destination CQ’s manager Damien Corr.
The Ballot for the continuation of the Cathedral Quarter Business Improvement District (BID) is currently open until September 22. In an independent survey carried out in advance of the ballot, the Street Beat (#streetbeat) programme was seen as one of the key projects that adds value for businesses and organisations in the area, over 90% of respondents prioritised it for inclusion in the Business Plan for the next 5 years.
The StreetBeat officers are paid for by the BID and are additional to the normal policing provided by PSNI. The initiative was a direct response to local business owners’ concerns regarding antisocial activity within the areas.
BID manager Damien Corr said: “As the businesses are paying for the service, it was essential that they felt in ‘control’, accordingly the officers have a designated phone which our Cathedral Quarter businesses can call direct 07787432635. This ability to bypass the general PSNI Switchboard is key to a more effective localised response.”
The officers patrol the area on foot and in their distinctive CQ street beat branded vehicle, dealing with anti-social behaviour and criminal activity. They also visit premises offering practical security and personnel safety advice and equipment.
StreetBeat PSNI officer Michael Gillies added: “Being given the time and support both by the BID and PSNI management, I have been allowed to focus my work specifically within the Cathedral Quarter and its needs.
“This has helped to strengthen relationships already made with businesses and also to forge new ones. It’s back to basics Neighbourhood policing, only this time the neighbourhood is my local business community”.
However, the future of the scheme in the Cathedral Quarter relies on a ‘yes’ vote for a new five-year term for the Business Improvement District organisation Destination CQ.
With ballot papers already issued and voting by post closing on September 22, Mr Corr is keen to remind voters of what could be lost without their votes.
“The BID levy payers have told us that they really appreciate the work done by our Street Beat officers who, between them, have provided 2080 extra policing hours targeted patrolling,” he said.
“They were particularly effective over lockdown when lots of properties were left unattended. Our officers continued to patrol, checking on closed business premises and providing assurance and practical assistance to those who continued to work.
“It is a simple reality, that unless we get a yes vote in the ballot, aloof this additional targeted policing will be lost to Cathedral Quarter.”
Sorcha Woolsy, Operations Director of Beannchor with a number of businesses in the BID area said the BID has carried out a number of projects that have impacted the Beannchor suite of businesses.
“The one that really stands out to me is the provision of the City Centre Beat Officers,” she added.
“It’s a really good example of an initiative that a BID can provide that an individual business could not on their own.
“For me, it is imperative to vote yes on the re-ballot of the BID. The collective energy and brainpower and money of a group of businesses all pulling in the same direction for the betterment of this area will inevitably gain better results than individual businesses doing little bits and pieces on their own.”
For more information on the work of Destination CQ and Street Beat go to cathedralquarterbelfast.com or contact Damien Corr on 02890 314 011.