The Ideal Home Show opens its doors later this month with a new owner, a new look and a new message, but will the British public still recognise it as an institution? Or will the transformation be a whitewash? Stand Out chats to Lee Newton, MD of Media 10
In 2009 Mayfield Media brokered the deal, which saw Media 10 buy dmg world media’s Ideal Home Show. The acquisition came as no surprise with the exhibition fitting Media 10’s portfolio of interior and home furnishing shows, but it was a revelation to see the event’s ownership exchange hands for the first time – just over 100 years after the show was first launched.
Lee Newton, managing director of Media 10, is confident that the show will be a success, and has drafted in the expertise of several celebrity ambassadors to transform the 17-day exhibition.
George Clarke (The Home Show), Gregg Wallace (Master Chef), Fiona Phillips (ex-GMTV), Linda Barker (This Morning), Suzi Perry (Gadget Show) and Monty Don (Gardeners’ World) are now the faces of Ideal Home Improvements, Ideal Food, Ideal Woman, Ideal Interiors, Ideal Home Gadgets, Ideal Gardens, Ideal Shopping and Ideal Village – zoned areas that have been devised to ensure a flow of traffic and a sense of identity on the show floor.
Says Newton: “In the past we feel the Ideal Home Show has been a victim of its own success in that some of the largest exhibitors paying the most money weren’t particularly the ones that enhanced the brand. We feel that the right way forward is to have a quality control policy and a committee dedicated to getting the mix of exhibitors exactly right for its audience and to emphasise that we have split the show into eight dedicated sections: This will allow the visitor to enter the exhibition in the same way they would enter their ideal home.
“Visitors will definitely recognise this as the Ideal Home Show, and they may recognise the fact that we have brought back all of the fantastic elements that have been ignored in recent years. For example, every celebrity on the committee is an expert in his or her particular field. We have reopened the water feature with a floating restaurant and re-introduced the village with five complete houses. We have reopened the top level of Earls Court and reintroduced food tasting, sampling and celebrity restaurants and chefs. We will be addressing social issues that affect us all, but most of all we have taken control.
““As soon as we took on the Ideal Home Show we immediately gave the staff a morale fix. The show had been floating around far too long and I think I’m safe to say was unloved by its previous owners. As we are a much smaller company, decision making is instant as everyone in the business has their feet firmly on the floor and has a hand in the day-to-day running of everything we own.”
Media 10 has appointed Justin Southgate, managing director of Southgate Design, to create the show’s visual identity and project manage the installation of some of the exhibition’s major features. A floating office and interview platform with a colour-changing podium are to be situated on a lake at the very heart of the show. A funky garden with raised flowerbed seating and lime green carpeting will add vibrancy and giant lampshades, each colour coded with a photograph of the experts face, will denote the zoned areas. In fact, lampshades and standard lamps will play a central role. For example, in the garden, lamp bases will be swapped for tree trunks.
But first thing’s first… Newton sees 2010 as the first step to confirming that the Ideal Home Show is the number one home brand in the UK, citing a synergy with its other major homes brand – Grand Designs Live.
“The Ideal Home Show has always been an event for the middle/mass market,” continues Newton. “Grand Designs is most definitely for the smaller more affluent proportion of the market but both are as important to the homes market as the other.”
Newton admits that the company, and its 10 shareholders, saw buying the Ideal Home Show as an opportunity to increase the value of its hold on the market as well as an unmissable investment. It’s Media 10’s intention to ensure the show is around for another 100 years, continuing to harness the show’s appeal as part of the British establishment.
“For a brand that everyone over the age of 16 knows and trusts, it has been so under used. We felt we were buying at the bottom of the market, we had a strong belief that the economy and the housing market would start to recover and so far we seem to have been right. We felt that brands and corporations that understood the quality of Media 10’s previous work, associated with this iconic brand, would support the show and yet again so far we have been proved right.”
But what of future plans? Would the closure of Earls Court, Ideal Home Show’s current home, be a major headache?
“We are in constant conversations with EC&O and have been assured that Earls Court will be available until 2012 if not beyond this. However we would consider moving the show to its original home (Olympia) and would not rule out any of the other major exhibition centres in the UK, as we truly believe the strength is in the name rather than the venue.”