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Consumers react to brands bout of patriotic flag waving


By John Glenday | Reporter

April 12, 2012 | 2 min read

The Union Jack is the subject of the latest brand survey to be conducted by Coley Porter Bell, a packaging design agency, amidst an uptick in patriotic fervour as the Olympics and Jubilee approach.

It found that despite pride in their country most London based professionals (56.5%) thought it only appropriate to play on a sense of Britishness - if done subtly. Nevertheless there remains a hard core who find red, white and blue bunting unacceptable (17%).

Vicky Bullen, ceo of Coley Porter Bell, said: "Brands often try to align themselves with news and significant events. Whether it's Christmas, The Olympics or the Diamond Jubilee, brands are always interested in what interests their consumers. Against a general background of fairly strident anti business feeling we were interested to establish how consumers would react to the deluge of patriotic symbolism and imagery coming their way from brands.

"Our main finding is that the British are being very British in their attitude to Britishness. They are happy for brands to be patriotic, but they want brands to act with dignity and restraint when it comes to using the flag and other icons of Britishness. Fewer than one in five respondents felt that overt patriotism is acceptable."

"Consumers are also able to detect 'flag wash' very easily. Companies that simply use the flag or British imagery without accompanying action or provenance will soon be spotted as imposters. The warning to brands is that jumping on the band wagon can become annoying and over time counter productive."

Irrespective of its political meaning Bullen regards the Union Jack as an “especially energetic design”. The fact that it is balanced but not perfectly symmetrical means even a small section of flag is both interesting and recognisable.


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