Back up the Battle (and help your firm to prosper, too?)

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Battle always seems to be a bit like Christmas – so much build-up, and then all over and done with in half a day, plus the Moonlight Parade, of course, and the funfair if you like candyfloss and stomach-churning rides.

There has been a bit of a debate this year over whether enough support has come from the business community, and once again, it seems, it will be a struggle to get things up and running in 2010.

You would think that brand managers would be queueing up to get their name in

flowers and moonlight and claim their rosettes, especially as many finance firms seem to adore accolades from their own industry and can’t wait to tell us how

they have beaten off competition from competitors.

Undoubtedly there are a small number of businesses that do their bit – including main sponsors CPA Global, who stepped in at the last minute last year and are keeping up the good work – but in truth Jersey’s August carnival has always been too much of a parochial affair to attract sponsorship from the major international companies.

There could be any number of reasons for their lack of interest, but the most obvious is that by and large the final say happens in London and is made by people who are unlikely to know a Lagurus ovatus (harestail, to you and me) from a carnation.

And they will only be interested in sponsorships which the City boys can relate to. Rugby is popular, for instance. Tough enough to win the scrum, all that kind of thing. Sailing is another. All hands on deck, riding out the storm and so on.

Flowers, on the other hand, don’t have quite the same appeal. Mr Battle, Miss Battle, people in sheds sticking flowers onto old tractors, not quite what the London marketing office would be looking for. Quaint, but not pulling enough weight in the global arena.

Shame, really, because if ever an event needed a bit of international exposure, it’s the Island’s premier holiday event – something to put Jersey as a family destination back in the national press, in a positive way, that would sideline the tax haven bashers and focus on the Jersey we know as fun and sand and people smiling and waving.

Years ago, says Battle finance director and enthusiast Kevin Keen, businesses would have had their own floats and would compete with each other for the best displays and ideas. Nowadays corporate social responsibility has taken over from civic pride and saving the planet or fund-raising for charity is far more likely to hit the corporate spot.

Part of the enthusiasm for eco-active schemes, of late, perhaps stems from the belief that by supporting this States initiative, there will be greater leniency elsewhere and that companies will find it easier to get those essential Regulation of Undertakings licences to take on staff from outside the Island.

Actually, I’m not just making this up – it was certainly the intention of the former Minister for Economic Development, who now sits in the Treasury.

So I have a suggestion of my own. Perhaps one more requirement could be added to the Regulation of Undertakings: businesses must not only show that they are eco-friendly, but must also show tangible support of at least one community-based event, such the Havre des Pas festival, or the fishermen’s annual bash at Albert Pier, and/or the Battle of Flowers, either by sponsorship or entering a float in the parade.

You never know, it might just conjure up a little more support from those who, until now, have chosen to look the other way.

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