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Paul Carroll: joining up the dots

By The Drum | Administrator

March 21, 2008 | 3 min read

Lipstick on a pig?

The Government has been at it for years. You only have to look at the succession of grand titles various departments have had over the years. It doesn't make them any more efficient, but at least it gives the appearance of progress and improvement.

And who are agencies to argue? Are they really going to point out that, 'well, it's not much of a difference you're introducing and we feel you should make further substantial modifications before we could possibly consider marketing it.' No. The response is more along the lines of 'what shade of lipstick would you like?'

The re-brand is the ultimate makeover, normally reserved for a post-apocalyptic event. Windscale anyone? Townsend Thorensen? Ratners?

And whither Northern Rock? Will it go the way of these examples or fight back, restored to its former glory in a Perrier-style cock of the snook at its detractors? Contributors to the last issue of The Drum were against a re-brand. Me? Pass me the theatrical make up bag.

Capricorn Two

The 1970s film Capricorn One tells the thrilling story of a faked Mars space mission attempt by the USA. When the launch is threatened, the authorities whisk the astronauts off to a secret location in the desert, and force them to take part in simulated Mars mission broadcasts 'back' to earth so national prestige and honour can be preserved.

It's a cracking film, featuring Elliot Gould, Telly Savalas, and O. J. Simpson no less. It's also a favourite cinema choice for conspiracy theorists the world over. In the end, it's the intrepid and doughty efforts of Gould's journalist character who defies the odds to expose the hoax.

But the remake, with Prince Harry?

'Harry does Helmand' is a British classic. We have secrecy, bravery, a royal in danger, a blue blood Prince 'down with boys', and a return to the love interest in the final reel.

But where is the doughty journalist to expose the artifice of it all? Like in many a remake, a vital element of the story has been consigned to the cutting room floor. What we get in this version is a sanctimonious media who claim their self-imposed gagging order is saving lives (nothing to do with the fact that they're going to get HD quality images in exchange).

Add in a very convenient plot twist- a dastardly foreign news agency 'leak' to force the bravest Royal since Henry V back from the battlefield a few weeks early - and cue the homecoming 'live as it happens.' Just perfect.

Could someone at the Ministry of Defence have been watching old movies? I think we should be told. Maybe 'Capricorn Two' isn't going to be troubling the BAFTA judging panel next year, but it's got to be well fancied for PR Week's campaign of the year.

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