Conrad Bird: The GREAT Britain Campaign


Conrad Bird is the Director of the GREAT Britain Campaign, designed to showcase Britain’s capabilities, to promote and enhance its reputation abroad. It was announced by Prime Minister David Cameron in New York on 21 September 2011, and supports the marketing and public diplomacy efforts of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)Visit Britain, the British Council, theForeign Office and other government departments overseas. By using the GREAT Campaign, all partners can ensure the whole of Government speaks with one voice.

Kelly is delighted to be an ambassador of the GREAT Campaign, with a role to promote the UK abroad as an ideal place to live, work and do business. Kelly has  been involved in a number of GREAT Campaign events, including the launch fo the GREAT Campaign in Hong Kong last year.

 Conrad Bird photo


Q:  The GREAT Campaign has allowed all of the UK’s overseas activity to be recognised under one banner, where did the original motive for the campaign stem from?

 We knew 2012 was going to be a very big year for Britain with the eyes of the world upon us for the Diamond Jubilee, Olympics and Paralympics.  The GREAT Britain campaign was planned to maximise the economic benefits to the UK from these unprecedented levels of attention.  It is the Government’s biggest ever international marketing campaign and showcases the very best of what Britain has to offer in order to encourage the world to visit, study and do business with the UK.


Q:  2012 brought a lot of international attention for the UK, how has GREAT helped shape this?

We used GREAT as the brand which all of Government and private sector could use to promote the UK, rather than just sport. So all our Embassies round the world were able to promote the best Britain had to offer in these countries. In addition we staged a series of major events round the world (in the US, Canada, Brazil, India, Australia, Japan and China) which were attended by British celebrities and highlighted our strengths as a tourist destination (focusing on our cultural attractions, heritage, countryside and the warmth of our welcome) and as a place to do business (focusing on our entrepreneurs, creativity, innovation and technology).

In the UK, we negotiated free advertising opportunities to promote GREAT messages to visitors at major airports, and staged the British Business Embassy which was attended by 4,000 business leaders and generated £14bn investments and £1bn of new deals. The 8,600 visiting journalists were also briefed on Britain’s strengths during the Games.


Q:  We followed coverage of the recent GREAT Week of Creativity in Hong Kong online. How important do you feel campaigns like these are in shaping trade and tourism for the UK?

The GREAT Week of Creativity in Hong Kong was a real success; we showcased the best of British luxury goods, fashion and creative design at 40 events in five days. The events included the London Design Festival’s first-ever Global Design Summit outside the UK, and the largest ever trade mission to Hong Kong with over 50 UK companies.

It typically takes several months after a trade mission for companies to report deals made and contracts signed, however early feedback shows some of the British companies presented in Hong Kong have already made deals and sales as a result. The week enabled both new and established British brands to show what they had to offer.  Because of this, we’re planning on running similar large-scale events in 2013 in other key markets.


Q:  How important do you feel your GREAT campaign Ambassadors, like Kelly, are to developing and maintaining campaign awareness? 

We are hugely grateful to Kelly and to the other partners who have been involved in the GREAT campaign.  It’s a privilege to work with such a vast range of individuals, brands and companies who truly demonstrate the best of British.  Our partners cover a wealth of expertise in areas such as creativity, design, manufacturing, innovation, technology etc and we want to continue building these relationships and work together to raise international awareness of the UK and the opportunities for inward investment.


Q:  Looking forward what does 2013 hold for the GREAT Campaign?

GREAT is now being used in over 60 countries around the world and early forecasts on the financial returns from our investment in the campaign are encouraging. Analysis shows the campaign will help to generate around a quarter of a billion pounds for the British economy over the next two years.

Britain experienced a golden period last year with high levels of international attention.  Although we don’t have such huge scale events such as the Diamond Jubilee or Olympic and Paralympic Games, we do have exciting plans for 2013 and will be focusing on some new emerging markets to extend the reach of the campaign.

Our aim from the start has been to put the GREAT back into GREAT Britain and we’ll continue to use the UK’s strengths to promote tourism, education and inward investment in key markets.  More high profile events are planned this year which will of course involve many of our private sector partners and celebrities.

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