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How Robin Hood Helped Originate "Brand" Marketing!

When the festive pantomime season approaches, I'm reminded how, over recent years, our local folk hero, Robin Hood has worked his way from being a minor role in a traditional panto to the "star billing" he now gets in the many latter-day productions that are re-titled "Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood"!

For centuries, numerous alehouses and hostelries, along with countless geographical locations and landmarks, have been given a Robin Hood related name and, in its way, this represents the origins of one of the earliest forms of what in today's commercial and marketing "savvy" world is known as "branding"!

Popular culture has always eagerly clamoured to seek out ways to become associated with the world famous legend and you have only to look at the vast range of books, plays, poems, films and television scripts etc. to see that creative writers of all genres have frequently stepped up to ride the "Robin Hood Merry Go Round" for inspiration, because they know that Robin's reputation as "the people's hero" still strikes an enduring chord with the global public.

Consequently, quite apart from all the classic film and television dramas, we have also seen Robin Hood appear in "cameo" roles in such films as "Shrek" and "Time Bandits" and make guest appearances in television series as diverse as "Star Trek" and "Morecambe and Wise"! Ever since the advent of moving pictures, the animated cartoon industry has had an on-going fascination with the legend and Mickey Mouse, Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are just a few who have taken on the Robin Hood role.

In fact, surprisingly, there have also been several other high profile ventures under consideration that for one reason or another did not materialise and became "the Robin Hood's that never were"! When "Jesus Christ Superstar" first struggled to make an impact, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were quoted as saying "Back to the drawing board - let's do one on Robin Hood!" Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley also planned to star as Robin and Marian and secured the options on a rom-com script provisionally titled "Bows and Arrows" and Rupert Wainwright (director of the much-acclaimed 1999 movie "Stigmata") also bought the rights to a horror-style interpretation of the Robin Hood story called "Blood of Sherwood".

So, while everyone else seemingly recognises the phenomenal power of Robin Hood as a global "brand", here in his home city we still seem to be missing a trick! However, it was encouraging to see City Councillor Nick McDonald recently quoted in the Post saying "We're a bit like a band that refuses to play its biggest hit!" - Perhaps, at last, the penny might have dropped!!