An international campaign has been launched to promote the UK – at a cost of around £100m.
It’s designed to capitalise on the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, bringing visitors to our shores with their sweaty palms clasped around their spending money (sorry, that’s not to imply all foreigners are sweaty, it’s merely a comment on our current weather).
But could that money not have been saved somewhat by employing the talents of a former student in Leicester who has – for seemingly very little money – put his city on the map in spectacular style? I am talking, of course, about the zombie invasion of its high street. By all accounts, this man has worked a cunning plan.
He wrote to the council asking about their emergency plans to cope with zombie invasions as, in all films on the genre, local authorities appear to be very unprepared. The council responded that no plans were in place to deal with an invasion of the living dead. This got covered in the press and, a week or so later, the same chap organised a zombie shuffle though the streets, ending up at the council offices – which were closed. What fantastic fun and, judging by the media coverage, it was a highly effective marketing campaign for the city.
OK, so it may not attract everyone. But the fact that the city is alive enough to play at being dead (yes, I just wrote that), makes me want to go there and see what’s occurring. It seems like a spontaneous place of epic proportions. And, more importantly, it illustrates that it’s the people who live there who make a city’s heart beat.
Cut back to the £100m advertising campaign. There’s nothing wrong with using Dame Judi Dench, or any of the others, but do they really show the heart of the UK? They’re lovely people, I’m sure. But they’re not the wonderful, eccentric essence of being British and what we have to offer. We’re so much more than the few celebrities who make it to the top of the pile.
The next time VisitBritain wants to make a marketing campaign it should go and talk to the same people the tourists will talk to and give our island the chance to really show who is home.