Don’t miss this Friday’s edition of Richard Gray’s, Gray’s Anatomy Column. This week Richard discusses Marvin Gaye, coke-sniffing, Belgium and Instagram. Where else can you read content like this? (Please don’t send in suggestions, I can imagine!) Over to you Richard…(foreword by Joanne Carter).
“I recently had the pleasure of being invited to visit Ostende by that city’s tourist board. I know all the jokes about Belgium, but I’m really looking forward to it. I’m a fan of Belgium. If I ever find myself in a Karaoke bar that does Jacques Brel’s Plat Pays, I’m on stage in a shot. Not very likely, I know. Though perhaps more likely in Ostend. I will ask the tourist board if they know of any.
The visit is specifically to promote a new tour commemorating the fact that Marvin Gaye once lived there for a while (nearly a year so far as I can work out). There I’ve said it. This is a sponsored post. I have disclosed a material connection in accordance with US government guidelines on endorsements and Womma best practice recommendations on word of mouth marketing. Basically if someone is induced to tweet, blog or post photos (in exchange for money or trips to Ostend) they should tell their followers. And by writing this piece, I discharge one of the conditions of the trip. And they’ll actually probably get another one out of me after the trip as it sounds like a fascinating story and a lovely place for taking photos.
The typical narrative of the Marvin Gaye sejour in Ostende is one of contrasting a fast-living coke-sniffing superstar with a seemingly sleepy seaside town in one of the world’s most unexotic countries. So although I’m absolutely delighted to be invited, it feels like I’m on the bottom rung of a very tall social media ladder in terms of freebies. My influencer statistics bear this out. I was asked to fill out a form, listing my various social media following numbers and the page views of my website, iphoggy.com. My follower numbers just about get into four digits thanks to Instagram, but I couldn’t quite scrape together five figures of visits to my website. I heard of someone the other day who had 1.5 million followers on Google+. I didn’t even know Google+ was still going. And I have many good friends who were blessed with a place on Instagram’s suggested user list and so have hundreds of thousands of followers. But, as I’m sure my dear readers and Instagram followers are saying at this very moment: never mind the quantity feel the quality. Be reassured Ostend Tourist Board”.
‘Going to the seaside’ – ©Richard Gray