This evening. fireworks will light up the skies over London, as the London Eye celebrates its tenth birthday. There’s no more surefire way of making a magazine sub-editor wince than by casually aggrandizing someone or something by applying the word, “iconic”.
Overuse has cheapened the currency of the word to the extent that a Google search reveals iconic status being conferred upon Katie Price, Bernard Manning’s World Famous Embassy Club and even the Countdown TV theme.
In the case of the London Eye, though, the term is surely applicable. In ten years, London’s south-bank Ferris wheel has morphed from zero to hero.
Ridiculed during construction for problems hoisting it into place (“British Airways can’t get it up”, was Virgin Atlantic’s gleeful dig at the Eye’s original sponsor), the Eye was then hit by technical problems that delayed its public opening for many weeks after its official launch by then-Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
But these teething problems were quickly forgotten once the public experienced the wonders of the wheel. Today, the London Eye is the UK’s most popular paid-for visitor attraction and its 32 capsules treat more than 3.5 million people a year to an up-close view of the capital. This extraordinary success won Managing Director, David Sharpe, the Leisure and Tourism award at the 2008 Cateys.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Eye must at times struggle to keep from blushing. The Singapore Flyer, the Wheel of Perth, the Great Dubai Wheel and the Beijing Wheel – all are striving to replicate the magic of our London landmark.
The Eye stands as an emblem of the power of innovation. In ten years it has woven itself into the fabric of London life, and is now closely linked with the international image of London.
Can your business boast its own equivalent of the London Eye? Have you conjured a new and game-changing asset with the power to transform your customer offering?
With the onrush of visitors to the London Olympics just two years away, now’s the time to set your creative powers to the challenge.