Bowie, Brixton, Beckenham, Brand.
23 April 2017 Blog by Mark Nicholls. Heavenly Associate Partner
Last month, The Post Office released an impressive range of commemorative David Bowie stamps in various denominations along with a special first day cover complete with the date and a (Brixton) SW 9 post mark.
Brixton have done a great job of claiming David Bowie.
The edgier, hipper inner London area with its multi-cultural heritage has muscled near neighbour, leafy suburban Beckenham, into second place in the Bowie pecking order.
Yes, David Bowie was born in Brixton - well, actually, David Jones was born in Brixton. His toddler years were spent there before the family moved to the Bromley/Beckenham area.
‘David Bowie’ was born in Beckenham.
David Bowie lived, performed, wrote and launched his first commercial successes from Beckenham. Space Oddity, Hunky Dory and the Ziggy album were all conceived and developed in the creative hub that was Flat 7, Haddon Hall, Southend Road, Beckenham.
So, with only the merest whiff of DNA to work with, how did Brixton manage to claim ownership of the Bowie legend?
It comes down to one really strong unifying idea. In this case, delivered as one great piece of art.
A large-scale painting depicting Duffy’s ‘eyes open’ version of the iconic front cover shot for the Aladdin Sane album. An image that for several generations of Bowie fans encapsulated everything Bowie stood for. The street artist James Cochran completed this now world famous Bowie mural in Tunstall Road, Brixton back in 2013.
So, what better rallying point for the mass outpouring of heartfelt grief following Bowie’s death?
The building that was The Three Tuns pub in Beckenham, home of Bowie’s ‘Arts Lab’ and a far more obvious bricks and mortar, Bowie DNA riddled location is currently a Zizzi Restaurant.
(Btw, why on Earth haven’t they changed the name of that specific Zizzi unit to ‘Ziggy’? Wake up!)
Yes, there’s been a small plaque on the front of the building since 2001. It was unveiled during its life as a ’Rat and Parrot’ but, next to the powerful, singular statement that is the Brixton Mural, it was no contest.
When the news broke, lots of people visited the The Three Tuns site and left tributes. Like Heddon Street in the west end and other Bowie landmarks, it was a natural rallying point.
But Brixton and its mural won hearts, minds and virtually all the media focus.
Without this amazing mural, the Brixton connection would not be so compelling. This single great idea gave Brixton ownership of ‘Bowieness’.
The stark lesson for brands? Simple, brilliantly executed, bold ideas, cut through the clutter and get people’s attention - sometimes, against the odds.
Image from fashiontimes.com