The Loch Ness Monster: simply a subject of bar banter?
Scotland’s lovable lore has returned to headlines this week with the launch of writer and science historian Gareth Williams’ upcoming book, A Monstrous Commotion: The Mysteries of Loch Ness.
The notorious sea serpent has accrued worldwide fame through passed-down stories of sightings and supposed photographs, but the professor of medicine at Bristol University suggests she could have been the mere fabricated tool of a 1930s PR gimmick.
The tabloids have spoken, portraying Williams as a myth busting man solely set out to debunk the notoriety of Nessie; however, he asserts that’s far from his intent.
As part of extensive research Williams came upon a semi-autobiographical novel by DG Gerahty detailing how he and a few other PR consultants concocted the tale of Nessie in 1933 over beers in a London pub. In attempts to rebound from The Great Depression, several hotels hired the team to attract more tourists to the Scottish Highland.
Times have certainly changed since the early 20th century; however, mysterious monsters have always been an alluring draw for inquisitive travelers. Whether true or not, crafting the tale of Loch Ness’ mystic monster has since generated £30 million in revenue for the area, according to Williams.
But red flags were raised upon further investigating.
After looking into old newspapers, Williams says he couldn’t find any references to Nessie prior to 1933. He also suggests the creature might have been based on “Ogopogo,” a fellow 1930s lake monster from Canada.
Instead of “trashing” Nessie’s story, Williams attests he’s only shedding new light following close examination. The book includes evidence both for and against claims of historic sightings as well as encounters. Williams additionally notes how “fascinating” it is the extensive history of people willing to put their own reputations on the line for claims of “something so illogical,” as well as a lack of modern evidence substantiating Nessie beliefs.
Perhaps the Loch Ness Monster was a PR stunt for Scottish tourism; perhaps Williams’ book is a PR stunt for his academic reputation just the same.
We’ll likely never know, but it goes to show the advantages of employing a fictional representative for your brand.
Restaurants and companies use make-believe characters as spokespeople for a reason. Retaining control of every word, thought and action, brands make a far safer banking bet on fictional figures, as opposed to recruiting real-life individuals always at risk of messing up and bringing the brand down with them. (Jared Fogle, anyone?)
Carrying the PR torch and keeping cryptozoologic cool—at least Nessie lives on in our hearts forever.