Uncovered: a master work of PR?

Share
Related Topics

When I was on a fleeting visit to London last week, who should I bump into but my old friend Adrian Wardour-Street, the uncrowned king of PR. (Max Clifford? Ah - he is the self-crowned king of PR.) He was walking down the street, tapping away at a mobile phone.

"Adrian!" I cried.

"Hold on," he muttered. "I'm just texting someone very important."

"Who's that?"

"Myself, of course."

"Texting yourself?", I exclaimed. "Why do you want to do that?"

"Reminding myself to do various things," he said.

"Why don't you just write a list?" I said.

He eyed me pityingly.

"But that's exactly what I am doing!" he said. "And look - the last item says: 'Remember 2 give old friend who has just stopped you in the street a coffee'. Come on, then."

And he steered me into an adjacent non-Starbucks.

"So, how is the wonderful world of spin and story?" I said.

"Doing a bit of PR in the art world," said Adrian.

"Does the art world need any PR?"

"The art world always needs PR," he said. "They crave it. They can't do without it. Poor dear painters always feel overshadowed by the past, you see."

"So do all other artists," I said. "A modern actor feels the weight of history on him."

"Ah, but the public can't buy tickets for great actors of the past, can they? All dead, aren't they? So modern actors have the field to themselves. Whereas modern painters know they are competing with all great painters of the past, because their paintings have lived on.

"But the dreadful thing about art," continued Adrian, "all art, past and present, is that it doesn't do anything. It just hangs there. Nobody would notice it if it wasn't repackaged the whole time. People reassemble it and call it "The Golden Age of Portraits", or "Titian", and then the public flocks to see it. You have to keep doing stunts the whole time."

"What kind of stunts?"

"Well, let's say you had a memorial in Hyde Park to Diana, Princess of Wales. Let's say nobody was paying it much attention. Let's say people wanted it to hit the headlines. So, let's say someone fell over and hurt themselves ..."

"Adrian!" I said so loudly that someone at the next table stared at their mobile in amazement. "You don't mean to say that you fixed that story."

"Or let's say," he said, smiling slightly to himself, "that the art world wanted some free publicity. How would you go about that?"

"I don't know," I said. "Get Tracey Emin to admit she wasn't very good?"

"I'm not sure anyone would believe her," said Adrian. "They'd only think she was up to something. But you're on the right track. Can you think of anything that has put her in the news recently?"

"Only that fire in the art warehouse," I said.

"Yes, that fire in the art warehouse ..." said Adrian.

Something in his tone made me look at him sharply.

"Adrian! You don't mean ...!"

"Relax," said Adrian. "There was nothing in that warehouse. It had all been removed the day before. It's safely stored away. But one fire isn't really enough. What you need is a series of publicity stunts, to keep reminding people how wonderful and essential art is. And major art thefts are always the best."

I cast my mind back.

"There haven't been any major art thefts recently, have there?" I said.

"Not yet," said Adrian. "Not yet. Just keep your eyes open at the weekend. Read the news from Norway. Say no more. Mum's the word."

And when I opened yesterday's paper and read that Edvard Munch's The Scream was gone again, I wondered fleetingly, not for the first time, if the day would ever come when I would be tempted to turn my friend Adrian in to the police.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones