Will This Man Be the Saviour of the Dome?

By Jardine, Alexandra | Marketing, February 10, 2000 | Go to article overview

Will This Man Be the Saviour of the Dome?


Jardine, Alexandra, Marketing


New Dome chief executive, Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, will need to tap into the Disney magic to turn around the Dome's fortunes.

"Why on earth didn't they get Disney in?" will be a rant familiar to anyone who has been dissecting the problems of the Millennium Dome over the past few weeks. It seems the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) was listening.

After weeks of angry murmuring from sponsors, the Dome finally reached crisis point, forcing out chief executive Jennie Page, and bringing in Disney executive, Pierre-Yves Gerbeau. But with ll months to go, is it still possible to put together a Dome rescue package?

Although the first month's attendance figure of 366,000 was said to be "better than most visitor attractions in January", there is no escaping the fact that the Dome isn't meeting its targets. Clearly, sponsors were not going to put up with anything less than a replacement for Page, who 'resigned' under pressure from a group led by British Airways chief Bob Ayling, who is also chairman of the NMEC.

Revamping operations

Gerbeau is credited, at least by the NMEC, as the man who rescued Euro Disney. The park suffered similar image problems to the Dome at its conception, but improved vastly after the introduction of new rides, alcohol availability for parents and sharper marketing, including a new name, Disneyland Paris.

According to sources within the NMEC, Gerbeau has been recruited not as a marketer, but as an operations man, to fix broken exhibits and. make sure the Dome runs smoothly.

But while the sponsors' main agenda seems to be the smooth running of the Dome, there is no doubt that marketing, and particularly PR, will play a key part in a Dome rescue package. A this first Dome press conference, Gerbeau said: "My job is to get people excited about the Dome, provide them with a memorable and unique experience, and also keep the sponsors happy."

Ian Wright, director of communications at Body Zone sponsor, Boots, has called for an urgent change of media strategy. Following the press feeding frenzy in early-January, negative publicity has continued to drip-feed into public perception of the Dome. …

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