Recovery zone

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At long last, the numbers partaking of the Millennium Experience are on the way up. Of course, it's half-term, and you have to take the kids somewhere, preferably inside, given this autumn's wind and rain. And this incentive has been combined with that classic marketing trick - the closing-down sale. "Positively the last chance"... to make up your own minds about the exhibits that the critics criticise and the paying visitors tell the pollsters they love. After all, it worked when Heinz announced it was withdrawing Salad Cream, and again when Macmillan discontinued the Jennings books.

At long last, the numbers partaking of the Millennium Experience are on the way up. Of course, it's half-term, and you have to take the kids somewhere, preferably inside, given this autumn's wind and rain. And this incentive has been combined with that classic marketing trick - the closing-down sale. "Positively the last chance"... to make up your own minds about the exhibits that the critics criticise and the paying visitors tell the pollsters they love. After all, it worked when Heinz announced it was withdrawing Salad Cream, and again when Macmillan discontinued the Jennings books.

The Dome has also probably benefited from the reams of unfavourable publicity that have kept it in the public eye. "There's no such thing as bad publicity," is an old saw in the marketing business; and it is true that no one in these islands has been allowed to forget that there is a £750m-plus white elephant beached on a peninsula jutting into the Thames in east London.

Our own favourite explanation for the turn-around in turn-out rests on a fact about our national character. From Frank Bruno to Dunkirk to the Dome: there's nothing the British love better than a loser.

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