Back in 2005 I took part in a campaign to help promote the North East of England as a great place to live and work. It started with a letter about the campaign which was sent to dozens of local businesses, including mine. At the time I was running my animation studio, Qurios Entertainment. I responded immediately to the letter (unusual for me!) saying how much I liked the idea and asking how I could support it. A representative of the campaign came to see me and, in no time at all, I was named as one of the ambassadors of the One North East Passionate People, Passionate Places campaign. What followed was a blur of publicity, starting with a photo shoot of me in my studio, perched next to a CRT monitor. It soon spread to local newspapers, billboards and even some promotion in London. It was exciting and embarrassing! I was interviewed by national newspapers and radio stations and, for a while, it felt like I was a very, very minor local celebrity.
But it kept going! For years I had my face in the underpass at Middlesbrough Railway Station. In all that time it somehow remained intact! No graffiti, no crude drawings, nothing. It lasted for almost a decade until it was eventually removed. The one in Newcastle Airport lasted even longer. I last saw it just a few years ago in 2016. Every time I travelled abroad my 2005 face would be waiting to greet me as I queued for customs. It was all very surreal!
It wasn’t just me, of course. There were about a dozen faces of the campaign, some who were included in TV adverts. I went along to a launch event at the Tall Ships Race in 2005 and met some of the other people involved – innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs and me.
Eventually, the campaign came to an end. I’m not sure what sort of impact it made, and it’s really hard to find anything about it now, but for a while I was a poster boy for the North East!