Get the Flash Player to see this content.

The Government recently unveiled an advertising and communications campaign to promote the export opportunities that exist to British industry.  Some might consider the timing to be odd given that the nation is in the middle of the worst recession in living memory.  But a recent UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) conference in London at the beginning of the month proved otherwise.

At UKTI’s ‘Digital Business: India and China’ two day conference which I worked on (Reuters TV news above) small and medium sized technology and communications companies came together to share knowledge on the opportunities that lay in two countries that are bucking the downward global economic trend.

Companies from Britain’s digital, technology, mobile and gaming sectors agreed that while growth in the UK was hard, business opportunities in these two countries gave them hope for the future.

During the second day, which was devoted to China, representatives from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology gave an insight into the help that was available to UK companies thinking of investing in China, a country that is looking to move its economy towards value-adding products and services.

Welcoming The World To Britain
Welcoming The World To Britain

We’ve seen UKTI’s ‘Take It To The World’ campaign message on billboards at stations up and down the country.  And companies like Playfish.com are an example of how Britain can take gaming to the world.

But what has this got to do with PR and communications?  Well, it was wisely pointed out at the conference that China was not just looking to bring expertise to its home country.  Businesses in China are looking to enter the British and European marketplace, thus increasing the need for services such as PR, advertising and the like for them.

And let’s be honest, Britain has usually been concerned about China and it’s new financial muscle.  But with the UK PR industry suffering in the current recession the opportunities that might exist from Chinese companies wishing to expand into Europe might help.

Some of the big agencies, such as Burson-Marsteller already serve and support Chinese companies, such as  online business-to-business trading company Alibaba.com, which last week announced a 39 per cent increase in revenue to over £300 million.

Agencies are getting ready for business from merging markets.  Maybe Brazil will be next.  Not a bad place for a business trip me thinks!

The Government yesterday released its interim Digital Britain report.  No surprises on the content of the Green Paper– broadband for all, improving how television content is distributed online and cracking down on illegal file sharing.

The disappointing aspect about the interim report is that for a fast changing industry its recommendations are already outdated, so working to get every household on a minimum 2Mbs line by 2012 will be like having a 56Kbs dial-up account today.

The report ignores the fact that bandwidth is already running out in Britain, especially as the BBC’s iPlayer continues to prove that people want to watch television (for live or recorded content) online.  Other broadcasters such as ITV and Channel 4 are readying themselves for the launch of their own content online, a partnership that also includes the BBC.

Recent figures, which I put in my last post on Digital Britain, confirm that shoppers are shunning the high-street for the improved prices that the net offers.

Lord Carter may say that while 2Mbs is the minimum speed that he wants everybody to have, speeds of up to 100Mbs will be available.  Good point, but high speeds will be there at a cost, a substantial cost, which will put consumers and businesses off from these packages.  Not just that, but he leaves the option open for an indirect tax on net users to counter online copyright piracy.

The Government said that it wanted to spend its way out of the current recession by investing in public sector development – new schools, hospitals, etc.  What it should have done through this interim report is commit itself to upgrading Britain’s bandwidth.  Doing this would send a clear signal to business that the internet can be used as a further channel through which it can do business.  It would also enhance the creativity that makes Britain a leader worldwide in the media, communications and creative industries.

I ask the question, now that we know where the Government wants Britain to be in 2012, where will Asia Pacific and the rest of Europe be?

This report wants a lot, but makes no recommendation on how these ‘wants’ should be met.  It offers no strategy and no solution.  It is a typical politcal report with no direction or ambition.  Exactly what you would expect.

The season of merriment and high-jinx is upon us.  Lo and behold this Christmas time for the usual mistletoe and wine.  And drinks companies at this time of year will be unleashing their campaigns to remind us that drinking and driving don’t mix.

Consumers and certain lobbies take a dim and cynical view of these campaigns, believing that they only purpose they serve is to further promote the alcoholic beverages that they sell.  All the world’s evils are laid at their door, giving them no chance to counter these claims.

Let’s be honest, drinks companies know that they have to educate their consumers and encourage them to be responsible.  After all, irresponsible consumers do these companies a disservice.  For drinks companies, awareness and educational campaigns are needed to educate consumers about how to enjoy their products.  But some companies campaigns appear to just give lip service to this.  They roll out these campaigns without knowing how their audience reacts to these campaigns.  They push educational messages that look more like a corporate internal advert than a campaign that will motivate people to be responsible.

Bacardi Limited is a company that this Christmas is rolling an education campaign that I believe will be well received by people.  Why?  Well, they have enlisted no other that seven-time FIA Formula 1™ World Champion Michael Schumacher, a driver that is the epitome of success.  A driver that knows that drinking and driving don’t mix.  But he isn’t just the face of a campaign that people are distant from.  Entitled Champions Drink Responsibly Bacardi Limited decided to roll out a competition whereby people can win the chance to have Michael as their designated driver.  In fact here in Britain being a designated driver is not something that people want to volunteer to become, which is why with Schumacher Bacardi is working to change this perception.  I mean, imagine being driven around a luxurious test track by one of the greatest Formula 1™ drivers ever.

Bacardi Limited commissioned three viral ads (see one here) and entered into a media partnership with MSN Cars, thus ensuring that their campaign would reach the audience that they are targeting.  Using Burson-Marsteller they also ensured that this digital campaign links with other above and below the line activities.  A true through-the-line initiative that makes us all question if it’s worth the risk of drinking an driving.

People might still be cynical, but it is in everybody’s best interest that drink companies heartily promote the fact that drinking and driving don’t mix.  To enter and win a chance visit http://www.championsdrinkresponsibly.com.  And yes, it was a great campaign to work on!

The video here was filmed when Michael visited Britain in September to film the viral ads, which can be seen here:

Get the Flash Player to see this content.