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Jubilympic product – too much too soon?

As anyone who has seen the excellent BBC2 comedy Twenty Twelve will no doubt be aware, Jubilympic merchandise is a potentially lucrative market.

As anyone who has seen the excellent BBC2 comedy Twenty Twelve will no doubt be aware, Jubilympic merchandise is a potentially lucrative market. But while the comedy sends it and those who promote it up, its early appearance on the high street is no laughing matter.

At the end of March I was at Bluewater. Wandering into the men’s department at Next I was instantly struck by a raft of Brit-tastic Jubilympic wares. Let me reiterate – it was March. The Jubilee isn’t until the start of June, the Olympics not until the end of July. How unnecessarily early was these products’ appearance? Surely, when combined with the athlete-endorsed promotions and ads littering the media, aren’t we all going to be thoroughly bored by what should be huge and celebratory events?

What’s more, aside from a few notable exceptions, most of the product suffers from market-stall syndrome; that is, basic stuff with a Union Jack, British bulldog or coronet slapped on it. The same thing happens every time a World Cup, a big music festival or even Christmas comes around, as the rush to get something event-themed on the shelves is deemed more important than the quality of the products to the point where the intrinsic value of the plethora of bags, caps and T-shirts is only a jolly beefeater’s whisker better than tourist tat. But one person’s tat is another’s trend as Next marketing director Christine Gerrard (for some reason we weren’t allowed to speak to the buyer of the merchandise) explains: “A palette of red, white and blue has naturally been prevalent throughout all spring 12 collections at Next to create a strong trend for the season.”

Radical stuff. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not all bah humbug about any of these huge events but would just like to celebrate them when they’re actually on, not aeons in advance. Unfortunately it looks like the merchandise is here to stay – just don’t mention it to me until June.

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