A SMOOTH WELCOME TO A SECRET WORLD OF INNOCENCE
TO Regent s Park, for the Innocent Festival, which sounds as if it might have been invented in the halcyon days of Flower Power but actually owes its name to a cleverly-named thoroughly modern drinks company, so right-on with its ethical branding that it
TO Regent's Park, for the Innocent Festival, which sounds as if it might have been invented in the halcyon days of Flower Power but actually owes its name to a cleverly-named thoroughly modern drinks company, one that is so right-on with its ethical branding that it makes Richard Branson's Virgin empire appear positively neolithic.
What can you say about Innocent, the company of which I speak? It sells probably the best orange juice ever made by man, and a range of smoothies that would grace Bondi Beach, as well as lots of other tastebud tingling, eco friendly delights.
And what can you say about the Innocent Festival, which somehow succeeded in making rustic activities like morris dancing, sheep herding and welly wanging look as if they had been invented in a park in north London?
The festival is a case study in successful new age marketing, pushing all the right buttons for people who desperately want to be doing the right thing, not only for the sake of their own bodies but for the good of the planet as well. Who could argue with that?
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So strong is the Innocent identity that people were prepared to stand in line to pay money for the privilege of sitting in a park that is free to enter at any other time. Once inside the 10-ft high barriers, they spread out their tartan picnic blankets and ate the Marks and Sparks picnics they had brought with them, or bought expensive eco-friendly fast food from a range of stalls, just so that they could be associated with the company's good intentions. Fantastic.
Strolling amid the multitude, looking a bit like the disciples at the Feeding of the 5,000, were shiny young people wearing T-shirts proclaiming: I work for Innocent - fancy a chat?
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And in the VIP 'secret garden', cossoted guests drank gallons of Pimm's and downed an inordinate number of smoothies, thickies and junior smoothies, in flavours like cranberry and raspberry or the one that tastes like pina colada without the alcohol.
Taste buds suitably indulged, guests could play croquet, register for a therapeutic massage or chill out on a vast Noa Noa sofa, big enough to accommodate a Flower Power 'happening', though nothing much happened in the time I was there.
Exploring the company website, I see that Innocent offers a 'buy one get one tree' offer on its juices whereby it will plant a tree - albeit in India - for every carton sold, as long as you register your intentions. Whoever is in charge of this company's marketing is a genius and deserves a lifelong supply of smoothies even when he's old and croaky, like me.
Scouting around the stalls, it was as if the whole world had tuned in and turned on to Alexis Rowell, or Jamie Oliver. Everything was so eco friendly, and kind, and green, and lovely, apart from the weather. No sign of global warming here as the heavens opened with alarming frequency and sent people scurrying for cover.
You have to take some of these claims with a pinch of salt, though. Wandering amid the healthy eating stalls, I was taken aback by one which advertised the rearing of 'happy pigs on our own west country farms'.
Well, they weren't looking too happy when I saw them. On the contrary, they were sizzling on a barbecue. For those poor porkers, the age of innocence was well and truly over.