It has been reported that UK government has a tentative plan to launch a negative advertising campaign to keep away immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania. Immigrants from these two countries to UK are expected to skyrocket after the labor market restrictions are lifted in 2014, and UK hopes to, according to one minister, “correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold”. The campaign will focus on the downsides of life in UK, delivering the message, ‘Please don’t come here.”
Ironically, London is not only the home of many prominent nation branding consultants with government clients across the world, but also the stage for 2012 Summer Olympics, where UK government spent billions of pounds to improve the country’s reputation.
It’s hard to draw conclusions at this moment, but there is a clear possibility that the tactic may be counterproductive to UK’s brand. The campaign might endanger Britain’s image if it reaches countries other than Romania and Bulgaria. Also, it could even encourage more migrants to come since the campaign’s intention (concealing how great living in UK is) has already been revealed. Moreover, it will show the world that UK government failed to work with Romanian, Bulgarian, and EU counterparts to address their problem using honest, legal measures.
While specifics regarding the advertising are not revealed, The Drum, a marketing and media blog, called for entries for “Britain is Shit” Competition in response to the idea.