Over that last week or so, prompted by the UK riots, we Brits have listened to endless analyses and proclamations by local community members, civil servants and politicians centred on fixing our “broken society”. As always with these situations, there has been plenty of scepticism heaped on the potential any new initiative has for success. However, there is only one real obstacle to all the remedial plans announced by David Cameron and others and that’s motivation.
I believe that Dave is a good motivator and getting better, he talks sense, even though his opponent Ed Miliband, seems intent on trying to neutralise that with mindless and responsible political point-scoring. (If I were him I’d shut up before people started to realise that it’s the left-wing, crap that his party has expounded for decades that has given certain sectors of society the idea that they have rights they haven’t earned and therefore created this disaffection).
The marketers among us will recognise the task facing us as brand-building and as anybody reading this blog over the last few years will know building Brand Britain is one of my pet subjects. The problem is that we have singularly failed to respond to the obvious need to develop Brand Britain and we still don’t have the right people in harness to tackle the job. Forget the political masseurs, data-analysis’s and bean-counters, where are the marketers in the team? Without them we won’t get past first base because the people who are currently in the driving seat simply don’t get it.
Over the past few years I have approached politicians, government departments, local councils and private enterprises with initiatives designed to help build Brand Britain. In many cases, because I have always believed that unemployment and local business initiatives are both inextricably linked and critical to the cause, these initiatives have addressed local unemployment, been designed to strengthen communities and help the mid-sized local businesses who are the key to the future of our nation, shift up a gear and take on the world.
The responses I have received from the public sector jobs-worths in particular, though unsurprising have been nonetheless frustrating. Unimaginative Job Centre Plus employees civil servants and local councillors have simply disregarded projects and initiatives as representing just another unwelcome task. There’s no point and very little scope for public sector workers like these to adopt an initiative that’s not dictated letter by letter from Whitehall because their world isn’t a meritocracy. Why should they take on something they aren’t compelled to? There’s nothing in it for them. Besides, these people aren’t employed for their creativity and they are entombed in a culture that actively discourages any kind of creative thinking, so expecting them to appreciate any concept is always an ask too far.
Life skills that should have been taught throughout a person’s school life, if not at the cradle, are belatedly outsourced by Job Centre Plus to HR and recruitment companies. I’ve spoken to a few of these contractors. They view these projects with the glee of a paedophile assigned to changing room duty at kids swimming gala and submit proposals that represent minimal input and maximum income for them with the balls-out cheek that comes from knowing the people assigning these projects don’t have the first idea what they are doing and are just relieved to have a tick in the “assigned” box. When I have gone to these organisations to volunteer help and advice, the response has been eerily uniform and something to the effect that “…we‘ve managed to blag the approval of the JCP people for this half-baked programme, so there’s nothing in it for us if we actually do the job properly”.
These are the kinds of issues that will threaten any British brand development programme and unless someone wakes up pretty quickly and recognises that we ARE building a brand and therefore need to follow the appropriate process, we are destined to failure once again. That means someone (Dave will do) having a clear picture of what Brand Britain looks like and starting with the mother of all internal marketing campaigns that will bring the public sector and government puppet masters into line behind the concept. The public are motivated, the players are listening and we’re unlikely to find ourselves with a better promise of success for a brand building venture than now this side of World War Three.