'Brand Britain' could do better

'Brand Britain' is still doing well in English-speaking countries but its international image remains comparable to a dull ageing aristocrat.

Speaking on Friday, Sir Martin Sorrell, boss of one of the world’s top marketing firms, said that Britain had a clearly differentiated brand in international eyes.

But he also reportedly told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the brand “is slightly old and it is slightly stuffy [and] it is slightly upper-class.”

He agreed, partly, with the international view that Britain is seen as a “sage” by saying the brand is “wise” and “knowledgeable”, but it also “appears old,” he said.

Research by his firm, WPP, shows that despite a generally strong reputation around the world, Brand Britain is struggling to break through in Asia and Latin America.

Although such failure was “worrying,” the Olympic Games in 2012 would give Britain a unique chance “to shift perceptions markedly,” Sir Martin said.

Disclosures of his lunchtime speech, obtained by the Financial Times, add that Sir Martin sees the games as an opportunity for creativity and innovation.

But Brightening up Brand Britain would be difficult, he said – comparing the challenge to changing public perceptions of Marks & Spencer, one of WPP’s clients.

To this end, Sir Martin is expected to join Ken Livingstone, mayor of London, to promote London as leading business hotspot between now and the start of the games.

Separately, another well-known personality has just been appointed a brand ambassador for Britain by one of the most luxurious brands in the world.

Zara Philips is said to have signed a £100,000 deal to be the new ‘face’ of Rolex, the luxury watchmaker, and the eleventh coolest brand around, according to Superbrands.

The Queen’s granddaughter will be seen in an advert to appear in Vanity Fair, posing, Rolex on wrist, alongside Toytown, the horse on which she became world eventing champion in 2006.


28th January 2008

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