BAJR Federation Archaeology

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Hindsight ? it?s a wonderful thing

We are all archaeologists. We share in a common history and given patience, time and resources, we can all be involved with the study of, and benefit from, a greater understanding of our past. Some of us do it for a living, some for a hobby and some have yet to be convinced that heritage matters at all but tell them history shapes our dreams and dreams are what we build with.

Is this the start of a campaign manifesto or the campaign itself?

Hindsight, unfortunately in my experience, is always 20:20 and not without a rose tint.
7000 years of history - 4 years to destroy it

(and I know it's wrong before peeps point out!)

I think it needs to be pointed out simply that we have the weight of history on us in the UK - and that the cuts in the UK are merely a blink in time in respect of it.
So far, this sounds pretty good to me.
First thanks to everyone on BAJR for your thoughts, comments and commitment to trying to take this attempt at presenting a united face and positive message for archaeology and archaeologists further than the site hut whinges we are all so familiar with from the past.

Having read all the posts as this discussion has developed, agreeing with most and disagreeing with some, I wanted to come onto the forum in a more formal way and put in place a bit of the background to why we have tried to develop this in the way we have.

When we floated this idea we were very clear that individual ideas and judging the temperature within the various communities which make up archaeology was really important, especially as trying to get a large representative meeting together at short notice was going to be very difficult. That made representative forums like BAJR and RESCUE very important.

We were also very clear that momentum was also going to be important. i.e. we needed to do something- not just discuss it, set up a steering group, think about it for a bit, bury it in peat for three months in triplicate and report back for re-evaluation.

Finally it was absolutely clear from the panel discussion at the Current Archaeology Conference that we had to strike up a new conversation with new audiences, in new languages, visual, written and spoken and we had to do that across the media, particularly new media.

We concluded that we needed a name and a mechanism for doing this which was outside of the existing organisations representing our sector, all of whom have issues of politics, economics, policy and history preventing them from fulfilling this kind of campaigning role, linking archaeologists whatever their background with the wider public and ecological movement.

With regard to that I am sorry we have got into this ?follow the gourd or the sandal? argument over the name. Different names, or brandings can have different functions, even within a single campaign and it is interesting that the latest edition of British Archaeology has an article about branding archaeology. There is clearly a perception that we have a problem in the way we present ourselves.

It is in that context that I wanted to explain where the idea for ?Mortimer? came from; why it is not just a name but a thought through concept and why, in spite of all the quite justifiable critiques, it would work for a core part of this campaign.

  • ? It is not a meaningless set of initials which then have to be spelled out.
  • ? It does not use the works archaeology- too many syllables and too difficult to type quickly.
  • ? It cannot be confused or associated with any existing archaeological organisation.
  • ? It is a single word that can be defined in any way you want to.
  • ? It doesn?t put off a potential supporter by mentioning something they think they are not interested in i.e. ?I?m not interested in Archaeology/Heritage/the Past, I am interested in birds/trees/whales??
  • ? By not being obvious it makes people curious i.e. What the **** is Mortimer??
  • ? Mortimer someone you as the audience can have a dialogue with, listen to and argue with, it is a campaign with personality [think the TV Channel "Dave"].
  • ? It is part of a long and honourable tradition of using real and invented personalities to drive grass roots political arguments, press comment and advertising i.e. The Rebecca Riots, Captain Swing, Ned Ludd, Mrs Sew and Sew, Humphrey, Sid, Cassandra, Atticus, William Hickey.
  • ? It is quirky [think of the anarchist group called "The Wombles"], fashionably Retro [think the "Keep Calm and Carry On" merchandising] and lends itself to comments ?Mortimer thinks,? actions ?Mortimer does?? as well as other branding and campaigns T-Shirts etc i.e. "Archaeology in danger- what would Mortimer do?" "Build a supermarket and trash a villa- What would Mortimer do...?" etc and other outlets i.e "Mortimer on Facebook, "Mortimer's Tweet's" and Mortimer's site on the .www [Mortimer's site geddit???] and perhaps a "What would Mortimer say..." campaign. i.e. Mortimer says: Local people + local archaeology =localism" and Mortimer says- Love Heritage
  • ? Wheelers Profile, hat and pipe could make for a great Logo, with allusions to Indiana Jones without breaking copyright- Indie never smoked.

Which brings me to the issues some people have raised regarding any allusion to Sir Mortimer himself- believe me I have thought them through. However there is an underlying point- this is about advertising, not biography and second, before he was anything else he was the kind of self-promoting media animal we need to aspire to be. Ask yourself, can you think of a single modern archaeologist who would merit a major biographical ?Special? on BBC2, which is what Wheeler got in 1973 and has since been re-shown, most recently on BBC4?s archaeology night.

The criticisms?

  • ? Wheelers Character: This is about branding, not endorsing someone?s lifestyle or perceived social attitudes. Our Mortimer isn?t Wheeler- it is "Mortimer."
  • ? He is a southern DWM: Agreed, although he was born in Glasgow. However, that works to our advantage. It sets up an Aunt Sally of expectation and clich? about what archaeologists look like and do which we can then deliberately subvert as part of the campaign .
  • ? No-one today has heard of him. I think the response shows the name still provokes a reaction within the profession and even if people have not heard of him that too is an advantage- it means we can define the character and the message. Who would associate ?Aviva? with Insurance or ?Kit Kat? with a chocolate wafer bar?

The concept is to use ?Mortimer,? as a brand to create local alliances of activists and organisations to promote and campaign on archaeology and heritage, to monitor planning issues and to lobby locally for the environment.
  • Each local group would organise itself in the most efficient way for its own people, needs, location and resources.
  • Groups will be asked to submit at least one press release a week to their local media to promote something good about local archaeology and heritage, highlight local issues where Heritage is under threat and create links across the local political landscape. Mortimer is not Party Political.
  • Local Groups would set up their own Facebook Page and Twitter Feeds etc
NB: This Regional and Local voice and identity is crucial. This project is not led centrally from London. Mortimer, simplyt facilitates its supporters with moral support and useful links and resources. As any political activist will tell you, election campaigns are won on the ground by people putting in the time and effort which is why the Lib Dem?s were so good at winning by-elections in times gone by. It would also enable the campaign to break away from the perception of the white southern male speaking in RP.

  • The local Mortimer Groups will be linked by the msite []] which is easy to remember and easy to type.

The "MSite" is Mortimer?s mouthpiece: a one stop for anyone, including media, to see what Mortimer says, thinks and does. This will act in the way the 38 Degrees site does by offering advice support and contacts for campaigning and setting up a dialogue for campaigners and a route for donations to help pay for advertising etc.

? msite can link to other campaigns/elements of this campaign such as ?Love Heritage?, the ?Eric Pickles Appreciation Society? etc and mobilise the activists to take part.

? It will also allow the local groups and other suppoters to be mobilised if a single national issue/campaign, such as the "Forests Sell Off" requires it.

This and other great initiatives like the day for archaeology, show we are starting to get our collective act together with imagination.

In the end it is simple. We have a big issue and we need need big stories, big ideas and big images to sell our response. Mortimer is the mechanism for the activist groups to do that, while reaching out to a wider audience and other aspects of what is actually all the same campaign.

Mortimer says Love Heritage and so do I.

Andy Brockman
yea but hindsight is a wonderful thing

and Mortimer Wheeler House just happens to be headquarters of a large predatory contracting organisation
Lots of well set out arguments but still does not get round the issue it is just the wrong name for this campaign. Too much like the Tuffty Club for me. Might as well use Agatha (as in the creator of Miss Marple & co) Probably more people have heard of her

All looks too much like someone has decided and is trying to push the idea of Mortimer without really exploring the pros and cons. The name is clearly alienating some of us for me it is just terribly twee }Smile
The name isn't as important as the message, or the number of voices shouting it.

'Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?'
Sadly I think the name IS important and I am not sure if Mortimer produces the correct image. I can understand the reasons why (and very well put) but it suggests a musty smell of old pipe tobacco smoke to me...but then again I haven't come up with anything better.

And as for the Judean People's Front...f*** off!!!:0

People's Front of Judea...}Smile

...and look what happened to them...
I understand the concept behind `Mortimer` but I too feel that the name itself lacks impact. Any campaign must have an impact and tug on the political and more importantly-the emotional strings attached to the populace. Something along the lines of " British Heritage is history" has hooks and a ring. Impact really is everything and `Mortimer` conjures a playschool tv slot starring a cute talking duck. Marketing is an exact science-get that science wrong and any campaign will be treated to a wall of deafening silence and indifference. There are oodles of talented marketing professionals out there......grab some advice. The idea of local groups maintaining a high media profile is a good thing-they need to be supported by a campaign with impact and hooks. We also need to present a unified voice-something the industry has failed to achieve for decades. Any campaign of this importance should mark a ceasefire for all concerned-focus on the future of our past and forget the issues that have so far divided us.:face-approve:
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