OPINION: The Big Question - How do you promote Englishness without its unsavoury associations?

Harrison Cowley has been appointed to handle a St George's Day

promotion for Bombardier English Premium Bitter


Royal Shakespeare Company

'The plays that we're putting on at the moment examine what it means to

be English but also what it means to be European and remain relevant to

issues today, such as the Irish problem and devolution. The danger when

looking back is that there are elements that an international company

like the RSC doesn't want to be associated with, which is why we attempt

to keep the works fresh. Henry VI is being played by a young black actor

who's 24. We're challenging notions of heritage without taking away the

comfort blanket. There's a strong association between Shakespeare and

Englishness, but it's important to keep it contemporary rather than

looking at less desirable aspects in the past.'



'Speaking as an Irishman, I think the English are too hard on

themselves. Instead of worrying about Europe and being seen as

celebrating lager louts and curry, they should look at positive aspects

like the French do with Bastille Day. When England are playing Germany

they are capable of getting very impassioned. Like any campaign you have

to look at it and say 'What is the objective?' Will it be fiercely

patriotic or a branding exercise like St Patrick's Day in Ireland?

There's an opportunity for a company to say that they're proud to be

English, whether they're promoting English culture or business to the

world. English people tend to be very modest and hung up, and they need

to say that they're proud of being English.'


Frank PR

'In life it's always important to focus on the positives. In PR I think

the same should apply. Sure there are some who can talk Englishness

down, and it might conjure up rather tired images of football

hooliganism or drunkenness on the Costa Del Sol. But people who do that

are boring; no one really listens to them any more. Let's get on to the

good aspects: Audley Harrison, Alexander McQueen, Burberry, Steve

Redgrave, Richard Branson, Ridley Scott, Robbie Williams, Paul Smith,

David Beckham, Paul McCartney, JCB, Ali G, Damien Hirst, Sam Mendez

See, you can't stop once you get going! Englishness is all about spirit,

creativity, slightly self-deprecating humour, energy, determination,

unity, vision and attitude. There are plenty of good things here. Take

your pick.'


Harrison Cowley

'The only reason that you can guess what we Scots are like is because

it's rammed in your face all the time. Scots are nationalistic and

party, the Irish are laid back and party, the Welsh are passionate and

have an inferiority complex, while the English used to dominate the

world but don't anymore. We've got to avoid the classic English image,

which is Olde England, and the Royal Family. I was a fan of the Cool

Brittania concept, which just suffered from terrible delivery. All the

tools are there but you have to take away the pomposity. It's not so

much a case of 'stiff upper lip' as 'the buttocks are too tightly

clenched'. You want to show yourselves as a leading, driving, innovative

force, but also as a lot more human.'

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