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Visit Britain / From China With Love

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective ad campaigns and marketing ideas

UK tourist board invites Chinese to rename British landmarks in bid to boost visitors

Challenge / Chinese tourists now spend more than any other travellers due to the country’s growing affluence. As a result, the UK, like many other countries, is keen to attract these lucrative visitors. The Chinese, however, perceived Britain as less welcoming than other countries and it has lost market share to the US and other parts of Europe over recent years.

Solution / With names being important in shaping Chinese perceptions of the UK coupled with the insight that British landmarks didn’t have Chinese names and were saddled with meaningless phonetic translations, UK tourist board Visit Britain invited the Chinese to rename major British attractions.

Developed by Ogilvy and Mather, Beijing, the Great Chinese Names for Great Britain campaign was an online contest asking potential Chinese visitors to rename 101 famous aspects of the UK. These ranged from popular tourist sites to lesser-known attractions, events and even celebrities.

For example, Sherwood Forest, famous for being the home of Robin Hood, was renamed ‘Forest of Chivalrous Thieves’, London tailoring district Savile Row became ‘Street for the Tall, Rich and Handsome’, and the Highland Games was re-branded as ‘Strongman Skirt Party’.

For places that weren’t listed on the microsite, people were encouraged to personally visit locations and submit a new name and a picture of themselves on Chinese social media platforms WeChat and Weibo. The suggestions with most likes were added to Google maps, Wikipedia and Chinese search engine Baidu. The campaign was supported by OOH, cinema, social and pre-roll ads, celebrity endorsement and social influencers.

Results / The agency reports that visits from China to the UK increased by 27% compared with the same period from the previous year. 13,019 name suggestions were submitted to the microsite and the campaign received international media coverage. The campaign also won two Gold and one Silver Lions at the Cannes Festival of Creativity in 2015 in the PR category.


Contagious Insight / 

Light-hearted humour / Visit Britain has strategically tapped into the Chinese cultural habit of nicknaming people, places and things. The campaign turns this into a fun challenge, and one which requires potential visitors to discover more about British destinations. The evident humour of the campaign - actively encouraging people to suggest funny names for UK places - shows the country to be one which doesn’t take itself too seriously. And this in turn helps to change perceptions of Britain from cold and aloof, to warm and welcoming.

Personal touch / While travel campaigns can be tailored to a specific country, this one goes further than simply translating an ad’s copy to run in a different country. Developed with the Chinese customer in mind, the campaign plays to a specific cultural trait - i.e. nicknaming things. This makes it feel more like a specific dialogue to court Chinese tourists, rather than putting them on the receiving end of an untargeted marketing message.

However, the fun names which result from the campaign are a talking point for others beyond the main audience. The precise and descriptive new names for the British landmarks are funny, surprising and unexpected, which helps prolong the PR life of the campaign and increase its reach further afield.



This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O. Contagious I/O is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious I/O contact