UK refreshes GREAT marketing campaign ahead of hosting G7

Aim is to reinvigorate the UK’s global partnerships as the world recovers from the pandemic.

'GREAT Britain': updated campaign was previewed in New York's Times Square
'GREAT Britain': updated campaign was previewed in New York's Times Square

“The UK needs to be braver at promoting itself to the world,” Dan Ramsay, director of the GREAT Britain campaign, has told Campaign as the government unveiled a refresh of its marketing campaign –ahead of hosting the G7 and COP summits this year.

The updated campaign, which was previewed in New York's Times Square the day before the official launch, invites the world to “See things differently” and promotes Britain as dynamic, outward-looking, confident and collaborative.

The GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland campaign is the UK’s international brand marketing campaign and works closely with UK businesses, not-for-profit organisations and high profile figures to promote the best of the UK abroad – from science and technology to sustainability, culture and creativity. 

Launched in 2011 ahead of the London Olympics in 2012, the campaign has evolved since the Brexit vote in 2016 and the UK's departure from the EU and is delivered in partnership with the private sector.

Interbrand, the Omnicom-owned brand consultancy, worked on the refresh for the campaign, which is backed with an annual budget of £60m and aims to reinvigorate the UK’s global partnerships as the world recovers from the pandemic.

The new campaign will target people in more than 145 countries across the globe, showcasing the best of the UK. 

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “The UK is steeped in a long and dynamic history of discovery and fresh ideas, powered by our ability to see and do things differently.

“It is this spirit that the world needs now more than ever as we confront the challenges of Covid, tackle climate change, and strive for a better future for everyone on our planet.

“And I believe that it’s precisely that spirit that puts the ‘great’ into Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

On Friday (11 June), Johnson will host the G7 summit in Cornwall, attended by leaders from the US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy, along with representatives from the European Union.

It is the first time the leaders have met in almost two years due to the pandemic, and the fight against coronavirus will be one of the main items on the agenda.

Johnson is aiming to push his “Global Britain” agenda during the summit in an attempt to place the UK at the centre of the world stage, citing innovations such as the life-saving Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine and the world’s largest offshore wind farm, being built just off the Yorkshire coast.

“Sometimes we're a bit too introverted and shy”

Ramsay told Campaign: “We’re calling on British brands to join us in championing the UK’s fresh perspective around the world. We’ve always had a history of innovative thinkers, provocateurs and creative geniuses in this country who see things differently and that really is the spirit of the UK. It’s not about the place per se, it's not about buildings and attractions, it’s about the spirit of the people. 

“The story of ‘See things differently’ is actually the sum of millions of different stories about British ingenuity around the world and how it is making the world a better place. It’s about putting our best foot forward in the world and reaching out and saying: ‘You can do business here with us, you can visit us, you can come and study here and you can come and live and work here.”

Ramsay, a long-serving marketer at BT, added: “The UK needs to be braver at promoting itself to the world. I think sometimes we're a bit too introverted and shy, so we need to be a bit bolder about getting out there and saying ‘This is awesome’ and being proud to be proud to be British.

“Additionally, we are really interested in examples of British innovation and progress, and tech and science stories that we can use as case studies to celebrate into the world.”

In a LinkedIn post, Ramsay also revealed four insights about the UK that the campaign discovered after thousands of interviews across the country and around the world:

* We are diverse and tolerant

* We are independent-minded

* We are creative and innovative rockstars

* We bring together the best of the old and the new.

It was those four insights that led to the “clear articulation of the UK's spirt” with “See things differently”, he wrote.

The GREAT campaign will also be active in the run-up to the COP26 climate conference is also being hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November.

GREAT is supported by more than 850 organisations and individuals, including HSBC, the Premier League, McLaren, Fortnum and Mason, the British Fashion Council, Universities UK, BBC and BAFTA.

The government claims the campaign has generated over £4.5bn in increased exports from UK food and drink through to British music and film as well as driving inward foreign direct investment and supporting thousands of jobs.

The ad industry has played a leading role in supporting GREAT with initiatives such as A GREAT Advert for Britain” to promote advertising services.

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