Several years back at National Stationery Show, I had the pleasure of meeting Chris Leonard-Morgan, the driving force behind not only the London Stationery Show, but National Stationery Week — set for this April 27-May 3 — as well as World Stationery Day, set for Wednesday, April 29.
Lest you think this is just media hype, check this out: 2014’s National Stationery Week and Get Britain Writing campaign generated over £5,000,000 worth of media coverage — that’s a nothing-to-sneeze-at $7,460,850 — reached over 20 million consumers AND trended on Twitter the first day. It reached a combined Facebook and Twitter audience of nearly 10 million, with even boy band Union J tweeting about it. There were over 160 articles and mentions in the press and blogs, plus coverage on TV and BBC Radio 2, reaching audiences of over 10 million.
Meanwhile, branded taxis filled the streets of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. Special lesson plans were available in schools, and a long list of major retailers promoted the week online, in-store and on social media.
The week was organized and fell during London Stationery Show and was also sponsored by Faber-Castell, Letts Filofax, 3M’s Post-it, Sheaffer and Zebra Pen and supported by the Post Office, the U.K. Greeting Card Association, National Handwriting Association and Writing Instruments Association.
Wow! Most impressive — and I especially appreciate the fact that one of the week’s official objectives is to spell “stationery” correctly.
How did Chris come up with this amazing idea? “I have run trade magazines and exhibitions in retail markets for over thirty years, and harbored the idea of championing some of those markets’ products to the consumer through an awareness week,” he told me. “I had the idea of National Stationery Day, which predates National Stationery Week, before I even launched the show and sat on it until the exhibition got off the ground. World Stationery Day is a natural progression — stationery has a huge user and fan base all around the world, and the importance of writing by hand is a global issue. The challenge today is to get the message across that it is as important for children to learn to write by hand as it is to learn to use a keyboard — it isn’t a question of one or the other.”
World Stationery Day enables us all to create a similar push stateside, so I am hoping that designers, stores and people across the industry get involved with their own promotions and special offerings. Be sure to use these tags on social media: #NatStatWeek #GetBritainWriting #GetKidsWriting #WritingMatters #LoveStationery
Meanwhile, Chris took a few minutes off from planning to take TPC’s Five Questions.
SS: How did you get into this crazy business?
CLM: The London Stationery Show was born out of the former Stationery & Office Products Show, which I launched because I was told the office products sector needed a show. I quickly discovered that it didn’t, or at least that it didn’t want one, but in the process I got hooked on stationery! I have used a fountain pen all my life.
SS: Are there any design or lifestyle trends you are finding yourself particularly intrigued with these days?
CLM: I love them all, and never cease to be amazed at the creativity of suppliers and designers. Fashions are always changing, but neon is still a real eyecatcher and very uplifting.
SS: What letter, card or invitation first comes to mind as the best you’ve ever received?
CLM: I have had many special ones from my wife and children, and now grandchildren too, but I probably treasure the one I received from my grandfather on my first birthday in Africa more than any other. It has our last King’s head on the stamp.
SS: What are your three favorite paper lines?
CLM: This is an impossible question to answer because there are so many fantastic ones that I like, but I am a great admirer of Smythson.
SS: Is there anything you do to personally keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation using alive?
CLM: I try to practice what I preach as often as possible even though like most people, I am always short on time. My wife and I send a lot of cards, and are currently on a mission to have our grandchildren recognize the importance of letter and card writing, especially thank you letters! Our children are all believers.