Museum makes a mint out of its millennium marque

THE ENTERPRISING Old Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum in Greenwich stand to earn millions from the millennium by selling a special 2000 marque to hundreds of companies, including champagne producers, drinks companies, jewellers and watchmakers.

Firms including Guinness, Champagne Mumm, Accurist and Parker Pens have already bought exclusive world rights to use the Greenwich Meridian 2000 marque, and more big-name companies are expected to follow, making the two institutions which sit on the meridian line about pounds 5m in licensing deals.

Since 1884, the Old Royal Observatory in Greenwich has been the official home of time by international treaty. Every day, clocks around the world are set according to Greenwich time, and at midnight on 31 December, 1999, the zero degree meridian line at the Old Royal Observatory will mark the official start of the new millennium.

The museum, also based on the meridian line, says it is using this unique position to safeguard its financial future. The line runs straight through the site of the museum and bisects the observatory.

"It struck us as quite rare for a museum to have something of interest for business," said the museum's spokesman Michael Barrett. "We realised that as we approach the millennium the Prime Meridian is just that."

Marketing experts forecast the biggest branding exercise the world has seen. For as 1999 begins, hundreds - if not thousands - of businesses will start producing millennium-related products, trying to cash in on the once-in-a-thousand years opportunity.

But the position of the museum on the Prime Meridian has given its marque an air of authority. "We see it as a sort of endowment for the museum, and any way we can raise money is good," said Mr Barrett. "The ability to raise our own funding becomes more important as government funding for museums declines."

The marque has already been licensed for hundreds of products, including a special edition Parker Pen, a selection of wines, spirits and beer, a desktop countdown clock and more everyday items like baseball caps, T-shirts and diaries.

Ray Perry, marketing director of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, says: "The potential is huge, given that this is a global event. Realistically, you are talking about a branding exercise that will be worth billions of pounds so most companies will want to add the word millennium to their product at some point."

But with this millennium-branded goods glut comes an opportunity for the shrewd investor to profit from some of the more unusual items that will be on sale.

One company, Millennium Collectables, has joined Royal Doulton to produce a series of eight figures representing classical advertising icons of the 20th century.

The series, limited to 2,000 per piece, includes Fox's Polar Bear, Robertson's Golly, the Milky Bar Kid and the Guinness Toucan, with prices averaging less than pounds 75 per figure.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
News
British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking
people
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This design and print company a...

Recruitment Genius: Lift and Elevator Contract Manager - London

£38000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Engineer - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Engineer is required to...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Hull - £32,000

£30000 - £32000 per annum + £4200 car allowance: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Suppo...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence