‘Brand Britain’? Brand Boris - Red Lorry Yellow Lorry

‘Brand Britain’? Brand Boris

Posted on 3 Aug 2012 by in Blog

BoJo mania goes zoink!

Blinded by the Olympic torch, famed UK adman Sir Martin Sorrell was speaking at a British Business Conference and said the opening ceremony of the Olympics was the biggest free advert for what has been dubbed “Brand Britain”. And not one to miss out on trying to catch zeitgeist-in-a-bottle, the Evening Standard followed up with Cool Britannia 2.0.

Quite how Danny Boyle so brilliantly captured what it is to be British with such a display of multicultural diversity is astonishing. But his ceremony won’t be a catalyst for Brand Britain or Cool Britannia 2.0.

In the 1990s, at least there was a cultural momentum behind the fromage-fest that was Cool Britannia. We had BritPop, BritArt, new Labour, err, Geri Halliwell in a Union Jack dress and that famous Vanity Fair cover shot with Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit in bed and a “London Swings! Again!” strapline.

Look behind Brand Britain and you’ll note its facades are stitched together with double-sided sticky tape and Blu-Tack. Now, there are no proof-points as we like to say in PR. After scare-mongering people that London would be fit to burst, trade is down, the West End is tumble weed and echoes, and even Forest Gate – one stop away from the Stratford-based Olympic Park – is having a retail nightmare. But on the bright side of the news I did get a seat on the train. Hold on to that. Did I also mention that we’ve been fiscally double dipped to the nth degree for what seems, like, forever. So who do we turn to in our hour of brand-need?

Shambling out of a 1970s pratfall sitcom that never was and accompanied by a lone comedy trumpet every time he gets stuck up a zip wirefalls in a riverhead-butt tackles a footballer or is casually racist to Liverpudlians, with a cut-away to someone clenching their fist in – not anger – but exasperation shouting “Oh Boris!” enter Brand BoJo – now sporting a fully operational and battle-ready mojo.

In a series of gaffes and guffaws that would be career suicide for most politicians, Brand BoJo is gaining momentum. When he got stuck up that zip wire, waving two cheap plastic Union Jacks, he shouted ‘gold medal’. Can you imagine David Cameron trying the same trick?

He also has the well-honed sound bite of the trained hack that he is – the sort of thing phrasing by committee in politics would die for. See below:

“The Geiger counter of Olympomania is going to go zoink!” (Boris Johnson, London mayor, 2012)

They’re also, unequivocally, quite insane and, in this case, wrong. While the Geiger counter of Olympomania has gone zoink, BoJo mania has zoinked completely off the Richter Scale.

On paper, Brand BoJo shouldn’t work but paper has been wrong many times before. So, Brand BoJo, we and the nation salute you. Would the future ex-Prime Minister please stand up. God save us all. And would the last person to leave England please turn out the lights?


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