An image makeover for Grim Britain

Whenever anyone has an “image” problem, public relations consultants will immediately suggest a “makeover”. And if you can’t get a makeover — you can at least get the media to appreciate all your positively great qualities — because the media has obviously forgotten about these qualities in these hard times. And

if the media refuses to acknowledge your sterling qualities, somehow you must reach out and convince the public what a great guy you are. If the public, too, doesn’t respond positively, why not take out giant advertisements and plaster your mug all over the city proclaiming that “I am the best!”
Perhaps someone believes you!
This is the sort of logic that the UK government has followed. It has decided to put out an advertising campaign talking about the greatness of Britain in many areas like innovation, education and sport, which honestly speaking, cannot be denied. The campaign, which will cost around £500,000 might, it is hoped, can help in some way restoring the image of a once-great nation — which is now known more for the bad news, especially during the summer, than its heritage or many contributions to the world.
It is as if the Queen had to tell everyone that she was the best qualified person to rule, having done so for nearly 60 years. It is as if the riots in August sapped the confidence of the country. American magazines are also advertising Grim Britain where once they spoke of swinging London. So this will have to be a remake of the present downbeat image to tell not just the foreigners but even the locals themselves that no, Britain, really, is great.
Britain has been a wonderful tourist hub, and with Olympics round the corner, many more visitors are expected in the coming months. But if there is a sense of insecurity in the country, it will affect not just the number of tourists, but also the levels of investment. Thus there is a real need for an urgent plastic surgery by spin doctors.
Talking of which, in the midst of the gloom and doom in the British economy who should spread a word of cheer but Ratan Tata! The Tatas are already the largest manufacturing employer in Britain, and they have also broken away from the local businessmen who are too shy to invest in the current climate. Ratan Tata has recently announced a huge new plant in the Midlands to make car engines. And to think that the Brits were snooty enough to think that Jamshedji Tata could not manufacture steel a century ago. However, something tells me Ratan Tata might not be the poster boy for Britain… yet.
On the other hand, one advertisement that we would like to see would be of the English cricket. But there are some perennial shenanigans in sports that may not make it to the billboards. The World Cup in the Rugby Down Under has also taken centrestage but for all the wrong reasons. The Queen’s grand son-in-law Mike Tindall (married to Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara) was caught on camera in a drunken party with his team mates after a hard rugby game, with a blonde in tow. The newly wed Zara, however, was busy riding horses back home and winning prizes.
Meanwhile, the other royal marriage of Wills and Kate remains very bankable and is still going strong at least for the fashion industry. That was successfully used to package Great Britain and set the cash registers ringing in the high street stores earlier. But then you cannot have such durable royal weddings at a drop of a hat — so more could be done with it! Thus perhaps the British government should use their available in-house talent, and the face of Princess Catherine is one we would all like to see plastered not just on tea towels but hopefully even on the confidence-building billboards!

Meanwhile, BJP president Nitin Gadkari made it to the Times editorial, but not, perhaps on the subject that he would have liked. The editorial spoke of Mr Gadkari’s recent gastric band surgery. Perhaps to the leader’s somewhat slender relief, they revealed that the get-fit bug has not just bitten the BJP but the Congress as well. And that many within that party have also gone in for the same cut and paste job. Generally speaking, watching the competitive weight loss the choice within the parties is getting thinner and thinner and soon we will not be unable to spot the difference. All we can say is that if politicians stop eating altogether we might be able to sort out India’s food problem for ever! Thus on the one hand, we have Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi fasting, and on the other, we have Mr Gadkari and some Congress walas (according the the Times of London) going in for a gastric band surgery. Obviously, for the political class thin is in!
Another image makeover?

Kishwar Desai can be contacted at

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