Like a bride waking up the morning after her wedding, after the months of planning and the jubilation of the big day, to face the man she’ll spend the rest of her life with, so the UK heads into “Empty13” after a year like no other.
If there is a symbol of 2012, it is the Union flag. First waved and fashioned into everything from bunting to dresses and cakes at the Royal wedding in 2011, it was dusted down and brought out again for Jubilee street celebrations, armchair Olympics cheering and medal celebrations. It was splashed across our newspapers, enveloped our medal winning athletes and barely a household product wasn’t wrapped in it. Nappies, biscuits, bread, cleaning products, pyjamas … brands rushed to show their patriotism and capitalise on the mood of the nation. So, I expect to see this ‘positive nationalism’ trail into 2013 as our gold medal winners do the corporate circuit and pick up more sponsorship and endorsement deals. The flag has become an easy shorthand for the 2012 feel good factor and I think it will remain so in months and years to come.
But 2012 has been about more than just national pride. Something else has been awakened in the people of these Isles. From street parties to the joy of the torch relay and the vast swathes of volunteers that made the Olympics not just possible but extra special, there has been a dawning recognition that there are gains from giving back. Post Olympics, there is a stronger will to do good, to volunteer and serve the community and these sentiments will need campaigns to coalesce around. The obvious beneficiaries of this change in mood are charities and voluntary organisations but there are benefits to be had for brands, commercial organisations and dare I say it government s too. Campaigns like ‘Transform your patch’ that enable customers to help put something back, can capture this change in mood and agencies should look to develop these opportunities in 2013.
Combining this new desire to make things better with the surge in national pride could transform 2013 from an empty year to a honeymoon in the Seychelles.
Jane Wilson is CEO of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Europe’s largest network for PR professionals. She is a respected communications expert with a career in senior corporate communications, public relations and marketing roles. She is a non-executive Director of Scottish Youth Theatre.