Team GB? No, Team Ketchup
August 14, 2012 5:01 pm
A huge number of unseasonal icebergs off the Newfoundland coast forced the British rowing team of Andrew ‘Mos’ Morris and Roz Savage to cancel their heroic bid to row across the Atlantic to Britain. The risks to crew and boat posed by the icebergs were simply unacceptably high.
So plan B swung into action. Raising money to buy a fleet of rowing boats to inspire both able-bodied and disabled young people had always been a golden goal of the OAR project. By rowing up the Bristol Channel and across the country via the inland waterway system, the OAR team managed to arrive in the Thames for the start of the London Olympics, thus achieving their own ‘gold’ and continuing the interest and legacy generated by our valiant Olympians.
Team GB? No, Team Ketchup
Of course, not all members of the team were actually in the boat, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t pulling hard for the project.
At Ketchup we put together our own ‘hands on’ team of specialists to steer the OAR marketing effort, ensuring the project attracted maximum attention and support. At the helm was our figurehead and leading marketing strategist, owner Michelle Jones, backed by a crew of able creatives.
Our OAR campaign was launched with our design of the innovative OAR logo which was then translated into a distinctive brand identity that informed the nature of all consumer-facing and internal communications.
Making a splash on both sides of the pond
Once underway, the campaign had a big effect. We designed, wrote and built a website that gave fans on both sides of the Atlantic the latest news, updates and project information. This website included links that allowed followers to interact with the project and find information on allied subjects – as well as including direct video links to the rowers during the voyage. Its dynamic presentation gave a true feeling of the epic nature and underlying difficulties of the endeavour, and the copy gave a sensation of the momentousness of the event as well conveying the essential facts.
The team were interviewed on TV and radio shows in Canada and Britain and were deluged by twitter and facebook commentary and messages of goodwill.
No, we haven’t got the blisters
The sense of disappointment at having to cancel the first part of the voyage was obliterated once ‘Bojangles’ – the specialist boat designed and built by British ocean rowing expert Mick Dawson – made its way up the Thames to massive applause, and came to rest at Tower Bridge. The gigantic Olympic symbol hanging from its upper bridgework was certainly an inspiring sight. Well, the marketing and creative team from Ketchup weren’t in the boat and hadn’t done anything more strenuous than thinking hard, and judiciously wielding a mac programme or two. But the sense of achievement was noticeable – even in land-locked Melton Mowbray!
The risks were simply too high ...
May 23, 2012 11:50 am
Even at the very beginning, when we at Ketchup first began discussing the content and design of the OAR website, the row seemed a hugely daunting challenge. But then, it wouldn’t be worth doing if it was easy. It certainly wouldn’t have attracted the massive amount of attention it has – or inspired massive media coverage on both sides of the Atlantic – if it was going to be plain sailing all the way across.
Like all great ideas; rowing across the North Atlantic sounded like a simple enough concept. But anyone with any idea of the effort involved in such a high-risk undertaking would know ahead of time that the enterprise was likely to be fraught with difficulty.
At Ketchup we say it’s fine being wise after the event, but it’s even better to be wise before the event. Since 2010, literally thousands of lethal ice fragments have broken off the Petermann Glacier of North West Greenland and have been blown by strong south easterlies onto the coast of Newfoundland. The sharp-edged ‘bergy bits’ of ice float just beneath the surface of the water and wouldn’t have been visible to the rowers, especially at night. An absolutely terrifying scenario.
For more information on the Peterman Glacier please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0hYScmwHp0&feature=related
Of course, everyone from the designers and writers here at Ketchup, to the rowers themselves and their supporters feel completely deflated, but Andrew ‘Mos’ Morris explains the decision to defer the attempt:
“The risks were simply too high. The responsibility we have to our families, friends, sponsors and supporters to ensure a successful outcome, left us with little choice. To make the decision not to row is hugely disappointing, but we were here to do something inspiring, not something stupid. Bojangles would have been no match for sharp, compacted, several-thousand-year-old ice.”
Was there ever a more graphic or emotive illustration of the damage that climate change is having on our planet? Andrew’s co-rower, Roz Savage takes up the story.
“Given our immovable deadline of reaching London in time for the start of the Olympics, we unfortunately don’t have the option to wait until the ice dissipates, which will take another couple of weeks at least. After much soul searching, it is with regret that we have come to the difficult decision to postpone our row for this year. The chances of hitting ice – and the serious consequences of a punctured hull in freezing North Atlantic waters – meant that the risk to our safety was simply unacceptable.”
Given the general disappointment it seems there is no good news. However, it this situation helps underline the urgent need for positive action to be taken immediately to counter the effects – and stem the causes – of global warming, then all is not lost. Indeed, followers of the OAR effort are urged to check with this website regularly for further updates, explanations and plans for the future.
Thanking everyone for their support and enthusiastic encouragement.
May 16, 2012 10:04 pm
Anyone back in the UK who thinks that May is proving ‘a little inclement’ should think again. Sure, here in Canada, we know that you’re currently undergoing the ‘wettest drought since records began’ but if you stop peering dolefully out from under your umbrellas for a moment and spare a thought for what’s happening out here in St John’s Newfoundland, you may feel you’re facing a storm in a teacup.
The weather here is so bad that the start of the epic row has been delayed. Yes, the crew expected to face mountainous seas. Yes, they expected the looming threat of ice bergs. But they didn’t expect to meet the truly chilling prospect of undersea ice.
Reporting from his vantage point overlooking St John’s Harbour, OAR crew Andrew Morris, explains:
“More significant than the ice bergs themselves, are the ‘bergy bits’ – lumps of ice floating just beneath the surface of the water that won’t be visible to us as we row backwards, particularly at night. We are currently exploring all of our options. Until the weather improves to a point where it is safe for us to depart, we’ll be staying on dry land.”
Who can blame him? The ‘bergy bits’ represent a major hazard to a boat this size and finding yourself suddenly capsized or holed and taking in the freezing black waters off the Newfoundland coast are too awful to contemplate. The crew has to take the safe – and sane – option.
But where do these treacherous undersea floes come from? Back in 2010, part of the Petermann Glacier of North West Greenland ‘calved’, leaving a giant floating ice island, travelling inexorably southwards. Over the last two years, fragments have broken off, creating icebergs and literally thousands of lethal ‘bergy bits’. Strong south easterlies have blown the bergs onto the coast of Newfoundland and increased their break up. Please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0hYScmwHp0&feature=related for an overview of the Peterman Glacier.
What does all this mean for the future of the O.A.R. effort? At the moment the team is in the position of ‘hurrying up’ and ‘waiting to see’. Time is of the essence, of course, and waiting for the weather is always a morale-sapping experience, but they will set off as soon as a window of opportunity opens. Go to http://www.olympicatlanticrow.com/2012/05/10/press-release-icebergs-and-strong-winds-delay-departure-of-oar/ to read last week’s press release covering the situation.
Overall, the OAR story has been covered by media across the UK and Canada, as well as further afield, so you can gain an overview of the print coverage generated by visiting the website. The team has also been interviewed on a number of TV and radio shows including Channel 5’s the Wright Stuff and CBC, the Canadian National Broadcast.
We’d be delighted to hear from you. For the latest updates regarding departure, and any questions you might have, please see the OAR twitter feed @OAtlanticRow . Comment from the team and more information about the ice situation can also be found on the OAR website at www.oar2012.com .