Britain considers running negative ads against itself

Next year, curbs on Romanian and Bulgarian citizens living and working in Britain will expire. In order to prevent an influx of immigrants from those countries, the Guardian reports that the British government is reportedly considering a plan to trash their own country’s image:  The plan, which would focus on the downsides of British life, ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Next year, curbs on Romanian and Bulgarian citizens living and working in Britain will expire. In order to prevent an influx of immigrants from those countries, the Guardian reports that the British government is reportedly considering a plan to trash their own country's image: 

The plan, which would focus on the downsides of British life, is one of a range of potential measures to stem immigration to Britain next year when curbs imposed on both country's citizens living and working in the UK will expire.

A report over the weekend quoted one minister saying that such a negative advert would "correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold".

Next year, curbs on Romanian and Bulgarian citizens living and working in Britain will expire. In order to prevent an influx of immigrants from those countries, the Guardian reports that the British government is reportedly considering a plan to trash their own country’s image: 

The plan, which would focus on the downsides of British life, is one of a range of potential measures to stem immigration to Britain next year when curbs imposed on both country’s citizens living and working in the UK will expire.

A report over the weekend quoted one minister saying that such a negative advert would "correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold".

There was no word on how any advert might look or whether it would use the strategy of making Britain look as horrible as possible or try to encourage would-be migrants to wake up to the joys of their own countries whether Romania’s Carpathian mountains or Bulgaria’s Black Sea resorts. With governments around the world spending millions on hiring London-based consultants to undertake "reputation laundering" there would be a peculiar irony if Britain chose to trash its own image perhaps by highlighting winter flooding of homes or the carnage of a Saturday night A&E ward.

Downing Street has not confirmed or denied the plans. If the new proposed immigration deal doesn’t work out, perhaps the U.S. government could follow with ads throughout Latin America focused on economic inequality, obesity, and gun crime. It’s the next frontier of nation branding!

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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