Proud to be British – an opportunity not to be missed


With the Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee approaching next summer, patriotism in Britain is on the increase. Both events will be celebrating Britain and what it means to be British, and will hope to have the same unifying affect that we saw with the Royal Wedding earlier in the year. I certainly have a renewed sense of national pride – it’s hard not to when (dodgy politicians and rioting youths aside) our capital city is soon to play host to the world with the arrival of the greatest sporting competition on the planet!


This increased public spirit and rejuvenated patriotism has presented a fantastic opportunity for innovative marketing agencies. Consumers full of patriotic fervour are drawn more and more to companies who celebrate or acknowledge their British heritage; no longer is the Union Jack seen as a negative or a marketing faux pas, but a positive, and something companies are becoming more keen to associate themselves with.


The challenge facing brands and marketing agencies, therefore is how to tap into this patriotic zeal and translate it into profit. But what makes this challenge more difficult is ensuring that any activity achieves this and, at the same time, respects the strict marketing regulations (particularly regarding ambush marketing) that have been set for businesses that are not official sponsors of the London 2010 Olympic Games.


Some brands are blazing the trail, with Vodafone recently unveiling its ‘London’s Calling’ campaign with a series of black cabs emblazoned with the Union Jack and Vodafone’s logo offering phone charging services to customers. We have also seen Nestle associate themselves with the Olympics sporting legacy in a bid to boost their image.


Virgin Media has adopted a more subtle angle with its recently revamped logo. By incorporating the Union Jack Flag into its logo, the business is visibly celebrating its British roots whilst also drawing in customers with a renewed pride in what it means to be British. Virgin’s executive director of brand and marketing communications, Jeff Dodds, explained: “At Virgin Media we’re extremely proud of our British heritage and wanted to find a way to symbolically remind people about all the fantastic things about our nation. With Britain celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and hosting the Olympic Games next year, we believe there is no better time to show our pride and excitement about what it means to be British.”

In the past the UK has generally tended to shy away from overt displays of patriotism but it now seems that, with the approaching Olympics, we have thrown aside our old inhibitions and are ready to embrace our national identity. It will be interesting to see which brands will be next to recognise and make the most of this Olympic and Jubilee-inspired national pride spreading across the nation –  without stepping on any sponsors’ toes, of course.



On demand TV changes and a new era of TV adverts

There’s a lot of discussion around Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) at the moment, particularly, whether or not Virgin Media’s acquisition of the American TiVo technology will help them close the gap on its rival, Sky.  I think it will, but it will be a tight race to see who will lead the way in personalised advertising, and to watch how this technology will change consumer behaviour.

TV advertising is entering a whole new era with the advent of TiVo and other PVRs.  Earlier this decade, it was predicted that PVRs would harm the industry, but it appears that advertisers have come out the other side, realising the massive opportunity this presents for TV ad effectiveness.  On-demand programming has become hugely popular through online platforms such as BBC’s iPlayer, so it seems only a matter of time before PVRs become more widely adopted by TV viewers.

This is an exciting time for marketers. With PVR technology, cable companies will eventually be able to target ads by postcode and personal details such as gender.  This will mean that advertisers can deliver more relevant ads but personally, I can’t see this changing my tendency to fast forward through adverts.  My view is, ‘let me get on with the show!’

I may be part of a minority here, but the time that I have to watch TV is limited as it is and most of my TV viewing is recorded programming.  In fact, I view recorded programming and the ability to skip ads as one of the main benefits of having a PVR and I’m not sure there’s much that advertisers can do to change that.

Who knows? Maybe we’ll find ourselves rewinding to watch an ad again.  This is my challenge to all of the advertisers out there.  This has never happened in my own living room but I’m prepared to be wrong.