Comment: It's all red, white and blue at Travel Weekly Group

Comment: It's all red, white and blue at Travel Weekly Group

While the rest of the world is going crazy about the colour of a dress, it’s very clear that it’s a red, white and blue few weeks here at Travel Weekly Group.

The TravelGBI team have been out in force at the Birmingham NEC, where we were proud to have been media partner for the Best of Britain and Ireland (Bobi) event. With the UK domestic tourism sector valued at £127bn by VisitBritain, it’s not hard to see why it’s a market we’re taking very seriously as part of our expanded portfolio.

Back at the office the team have just delivered a bumper UK domestic themed issue of Travel Weekly – another 100 pages! We’ve looked at the continuation of the Holidays at Home are GREAT campaign; led by VisitEngland and supported by the tourist boards of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the campaign follows Shaun the Sheep on holiday in the UK with his farmyard friends.

We also featured some exciting news about this year’s Travel Brit Awards, where Travel Weekly will once again be partnering with the combined super-powers of the UK domestic sector.

A number of the team were lucky enough to be invited to Southampton for the naming ceremony of P&O Cruises’ new flagship, Britannia, and you may have noticed The Queen taking the front page of Travel Weekly last week (wearing ‘apricot’, I’m reliably informed).

At £473m you’d expect Britannia to be something special, and it doesn’t disappoint. For such a large ship there is a real feel of class and elegance which can’t have been easily achieved, and I’m so pleased that over 3,000 travel agents will have had the chance to see and experience Britannia this week alone.

Continuing the patriotic theme, Carnival UK boss David Dingle called for P&O Cruises to put a stake in the ground as "the cruise brand for Britain”, and for all the glitz and glamour of the Britannia launch I can’t help but think there’s some real credibility in this marketing stance.

The new livery featuring a modern take on the traditional union flag is a masterstroke of marketing. Leveraging ‘Brand Britain’ makes P&O Cruises ships instantly recognisable around the world, and plays on the patriotic heart strings of the UK audience expected to be the mainstay of their on-board clients.

Of course P&O Cruises is not the first brand to do this. British Airways has long flown the Chatham Dockyard Union Flag on its tail fins, and it’s impossible to forget Margaret Thatcher’s response to the short-lived 1997 rebrand to ethnic liveries: “We fly the British Flag, not these awful things”.

Virgin Atlantic was quick to capitalise by adding the Union Flag to its aircraft in 1999, recognising its worldwide appeal, and getting one over on British Airways in the process.

The London Olympics of 2012 leaned heavily on the national colours, but only after the outrage caused by the initial designs, which shunned them completely in favour of day-glow pinks and yellows.

Outside of travel the likes of Mini and Dr. Martens have been linked to British culture throughout the 70’s and 80’s by their use of the red, white, and blue, and are both brands which continue to stand the test of time.

It begs the question, what would have happened to these hugely identifiable brands had the Scottish vote for independence swung the other way? The loss of the Saltire from the Union Flag would have caused some serious issues for not just the brand identity of the United Kingdom but all the brands associated with it. Don’t even get me started on the 20-plus Commonwealth states that feature the Union Flag within their own countries’ identities.

This will no doubt be a very real issue for these brands to consider again in future years, but for now the flying of the flag is a very shrewd move in securing a feeling of prestige and credibility against competitor products.


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