Who am I? It’s a question I often ask myself when I’m emerging from the skip behind Poundland on a Tuesday morning. But if you’re a British person watching the Olympics, you might be wondering the same thing. Despite the wonders of Wiggo’s luxuriant sideburns and the efforts of our sporting heroes, Britain has a branding problem. It doesn’t know what it’s called. Our sceptred isle may be able to put on a bells and whistles Opening Ceremony which somehow combined Fuck Buttons with Kenneth Branagh in a top hat, but most British people don’t even know what to put on their passports. Do we live in Britain? Great Britain? GB? United Kingdom? The British Isles? GBR? EnglandScotlandWalesNITM? Who the hell are we? Are we Chelsea Pensioners, bagpipers, Welsh miners, Cornish pasties or Ian Paisley? And WHY ARE YOU IN MY SKIP?
The many names of Britain smack of indecisiveness if you ask me. If you’re French, you’re from France, and chances are you will probably be sitting at a glorious pavement café right now, shrugging and stirring a tiny coffee and somehow getting laid, even though you look like Serge Gainsbourg’s catflap. If you’re British however, you’ll be knocking into things and apologising and not even knowing what your own fucking country is called. How are we expected to be a globally confident nation when we haven’t even decided on a name?
Of course, a typically wassocky marketing department spent an hour brainstorming in their Inspiration Beanbag Pod and all of sudden we’re now Team GB. It’s the kind of name that gets roars of approval from creative directors called Oscar with black framed glasses and a box of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies on the desk - and a sarcastic golf clap from everyone else. But like a friend who has decided to call their child Rhubarb Tigerblossom, you spend a couple of weeks making vomit faces, but after you meet them and spend some time with them, you’re happily trilling: ‘Rhubarb, darling, it’s nice to SHARE your organic breadsticks.’ This is the principle that applies to most of marketing’s monstrous corruptions of the English language - like ‘loving it’. Wear them down, and they won’t notice how crap it is.
A typically wassocky marketing department spent an hour brainstorming in their Inspiration Beanbag Pod and all of sudden we’re now Team GB.
However, it makes you wonder whether someone pointed out in the beanbag meeting that unless we get loads of gold, to call ourselves ‘Great’ Britain might be a misnomer. It’s like the Great Soprendo. Or the Great British Bake Off. You just couldn’t get that past the Advertising Standards Authority. Plus, you can just imagine other athletes using that one against us. I bet Irina Knockitov from the Russian archery team is all like ‘Ha, you call yourselves ‘Great’ but you are shittier than Georgian potato.’
But whatever the thinking, calling us Team GB just adds to the confusion. Sure, as a nation we may have a lot of be proud of, but what we call ourselves is still a minefield. On the Chris Moyles show the other week, some white van driving dickhole called Team GB ‘England’. Scotland, naturally, was up in arms. But you can see the confusion – the wonderfully diverse patchwork of dialects and attitudes that make up Britain/Great Britain/the UK/is hard to pin down. We are a disparate nation. That’s why it’s important to find a name we can stick to. A name that sums us up as a friendly place full of banter and inclusive cheeky fun. A name to make us ALL proud.
How about ‘Bob’? Everyone likes Bob. He’s the guy we can all agree on. Always there with a friendly smile – gets the drinks in. It’s easier to remember, trips off the tongue and even a marketing manager can spell it. Plus, when you’re supporting Bob, you can just write 2 ‘B’s on your bum cheeks and flash them to show the world we mean business.
So how about it, Britain/UK/British Isles/GB? Are we all behind this? TEAM BOB FTW!
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