So, has Danny Boyle found the God Particle of Britishness? Will brands who want to hitch their wagon to Britishness now know what it looks like?
Over the years, together with my colleagues from CRICKET, I’ve been involved in a number of ‘Britishness’ projects. I’ve attended research debriefs of widely different calibre on the nature of being British; debated what is and is not relevant for branding purposes, and offered my own. The difficulty is that Britishness is not simple up close, and too simple from a distance.
Whatever you believe, it’s a hazardous territory for a brand or a film director to negotiate.
Phrases like Cool Britannia have described moments in time but never captured or represented the whole story. This is because, as the Opening Ceremony illustrated, the narrative of Britishness is rich, long and complex – a pageant hard for international audiences to comprehend.
The London 2012 Olympic©®™ Opening Ceremony was a brilliant piece of theatre – and like Boris I found myself wiping more than the occasional tear from my cynical eye. It explained cleverly who we are, how we are, what we do, where we’re from.
But sadly it chose not to look to the future – evidenced by a lonely Professor Tim Berners Lee left looking like a prophet in the wilderness. If the Games©®™ had been in the USA, would Bill Gates have been made to stand there holding a copy of ‘Windows for Dummies’? Can you imagine Steve Jobs revealed from beneath a Cupertino middle income bungalow? He’d have wanted visuals of wonder to celebrate his breakthrough vision. But then that’s the British eh? Proud of the smokestacks of the Industrial Revolution (terrific coup de theatre), but hiding our current inventive light firmly under bushels of old corn and Mr. Bean.
Maybe Danny Boyle is saving Britain’s vision of the future for the closing ceremony. But whatever happens, marketeers have to future Britishness if it is ever going to be a pillar of global consumer aspiration for our brands.
This article was originally posted on the CRICKET blog: 30 July 2012