The British Tourist Board and the British government advertise the country in diametrically opposite ways. This is easy to understand for they pursue diametrically opposite ends: the former wants to attract visitors, the latter seeks to repel immigrants.
The second goal is rather more urgent than the first, what with millions of Romanians and Bulgarians becoming entitled to come here in a year’s time. It can be confidently predicted that sizeable numbers will take advantage of this entitlement, what with average salaries in those countries being lower than the sums our ‘social’ routinely shells out.
Thus the government’s key campaign pledge, that of limiting immigration, will bite the dust. This will offend Dave’s and Theresa’s sense of balance, for they won’t have even a single kept promise to offset the numerous ones they’ve broken.
Hence the arrival of a Balkan flood must be nipped in the bud. This task wouldn’t be unduly hard if Britain remained a sovereign nation: a simple ‘sorry, old chaps, you can’t come here’ would suffice. But should we attempt to utter this phrase now, the EU would countermand it by saying ‘oh yes, they can’, and that would be that.
That option off limits, Albion has to rely on its much publicised perfidy to seek more subtle deterrents. One such is an advertising campaign, currently in development, aimed at discouraging Bulgarians and Romanians from coming to the UK. The strategy is based on depicting Britain as a horrible place to live, mainly because it’s cold and wet.
Now I have to own up to a blot on my copybook: for about 30 years I not only believed in the power of advertising, but indeed wielded it for a variety of clients on either side of the Atlantic. During much of that period I was in a position to judge other people’s work, telling them when it went wrong. Slipping back into that shed skin, I must tell HMG to go back to the drawing board.
Is that the best you can do? The weather? Can’t you find something more effective to say about Britain? Here are, off the top, 10 ideas for possible ads:
Britain isn’t all beer and skittles – no one plays skittles anymore. Visual: the centre of any city on a Saturday night, with crowds of youngsters fighting, tossing rubbish bins through shop windows and throwing up.
The Brits say ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’. So your children will get none. The visual depicts schoolchildren beating up a teacher in the classroom.
NHS – it stands for No Hope of Survival. Visual: at least 20 obviously abandoned men and women piled up together in a unisex hospital ward.
British medicine is the best in the world, you can buy drugs at every corner. Visual: King’s Cross at night.
Miss communism? Come to Britain. Visual: Ed Miliband.
British men are nice, they love one another. Visual: a Gay Day parade.
The Brits tolerate any religion, except Christianity. Visual: A street scene in Bradford.
Meet your future British neighbours. Visual: A heavily tattooed, facial-metalled woman with half a dozen children, all obviously by different fathers, against the background of a council estate. A variation on the same theme:
Are you dying to meet your future British neighbours? Visual: A street gang armed with baseball bats and flick knives.
Brits love dogs, but not always the other way around. Visual: close-up of a particularly ferocious rottweiler scowling at the camera.
Note to the creative team: these aren’t complete concepts, only possible avenues to explore. See what you can do, come back in a week.
Oh well, as we all know, you can’t enter the same river twice. I doubt HMG propagandists will beat a path to my door, seeking my advice on advertising. Especially since they already know that, with or without my help, they won’t be able to do anything that’ll work.