Government starts £125m “GREAT” Britain campaign

The government and national tourism body VisitBritain is to launch a £25m global marketing campaign, a “sales assault”, say ministers, intended to attract an additional 4.6 million visitors to the UK over the next four years.


The “GREAT” activity will run in 14 cities in nine countries, from growth markets India and China to nations that have historically provided visitors to the UK such as North America and Japan.

Television, cinema, online, press and outdoor ads showcasing British culture, heritage, music and countryside will run for the rest of 2012.

The campaign is being launched to exploit the spotlight provided by the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Speaking at the launch of the activity, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said those events, and campaign will kick-start a “solid tourism legacy” that will drive the uptake in visitor numbers over the next four years.

“This is a significant investment for the UK government. The cuts to public sector spending over the course of this Parliament means that we should be cutting back on marketing but we are turning that on its head, ignoring the naysayers and putting additional funds into marketing”, he adds.

The government is justifying the additional outlay by predicting that the extra visitors will spend an additional £2.3bn whilst here, creating 60,000 jobs. Figures are based upon examples of countries that have successfully exploited hosting international sporting events and attracted longer term inward investment. Germany staging the 2006 World Cup and the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver were cited as examples of countries that built legacies by Hunt.

The first stage of the campaign will run for the rest of 2012 and is designed to bolster Britain’s image abroad by focussing on what makes the country “GREAT”.

It will then be replaced by a £100m tactical campaign that aims to convert the interest generated by this year’s activity and events into visits.

VisitBritain will spend the money, £50m of which comes from the government with the rest provided in the form of “in-kind” marketing support by brand partners such as British Airways and P&O, on press, radio and digital activity aimed at securing bookings.

Laurence Bresh, marketing director of VisitBritain told Marketing Week that activity will “evolve and fit its purpose” over time.

For example, the body is in discussions with The Beatles’ record company Apple about developing a campaign to mark the 50th anniversary of the group’s first release to highlight Britain’s contribution to popular culture. A tie-up with Sony to feature the next James Bond movie, Skyfall in promotional material is also being discussed.

In line with the partnership approach, the tourism body has struck a deal with Yahoo! that will see content and space hosted on the platform’s international networks. It is hoped that the partnership will generate over 5 million views of VisitBritain content on Yahoo! and 3.5 million visits to VisitBritain’s own site.

Key international activity

New York

Subway trains will be wrapped in the GREAT creative and posters will be seen in Grand Central Station.


Posters in Mumbai and Delhi and ads running in 120 cinemas.


Print and train ads in Beijing and Shanghai.


Cinema, outdoor and Metro ads running in Paris.


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