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The Truth about Britain: McCann Worldgroup Study Reveals What Being ‘British’ Means Today.

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Behind traditional stereotypes, nation united by determination to impact the world for the better

The Truth about Britain: McCann Worldgroup Study Reveals What Being ‘British’ Means Today.

A new study ‘The Truth About Britain’ from McCann Worldgroup paints a rich picture of Britishness today, redefined following a series of contemporary experiences in the past four years ranging from Brexit, the Black Lives Matter movement to Extinction Rebellion and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now in its 11th wave having first launched in 2007, the study found that whilst some of the nation’s long standing traditional stereotypes endure –  BRITS associate Wales most with sheep, the north with being cold, London with overcrowding and say the funniest region is Northern Ireland – by contrast other beliefs had shifted significantly.

Immigration is seen to be less of an inflammatory issue than at any point in the history of the 15-year study.


What does being ‘British’ mean today?

More than 1,200 people were asked ‘list the first three things that come to mind when you think about the British regions’. They associate the Midlands with industry as well as being the friendliest part of the UK.

And although people rate Brummies and Northerners as being funny, the wittiest wits are from Northern Ireland, home of Ch4’s smash new series of Derry Girls.

Scotland means ‘cold’, ‘hilly’ and ‘independence’ while the south west means ‘holidays’, ‘rural’ and ‘beaches’ but a negligible number of people associated the area – or London – with being amusing.

And we really do value our sense of fun, according to another statistic in the new Britain 2022 report from McCann.

When asked what we would save, if our culture were to undergo a radical change, 38% say our humour, 36% our language and 31% our family values.

Only 6% would save our cuisine, 5% our fashion and 3% our nightlife.

The Truth About Britain study, now in its 11th wave having first launched in 2007, paints a rich picture of Britishness today, redefined following a series of contemporary experiences in the past four years ranging from Brexit, the Black Lives Matter movement to Extinction Rebellion and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Rodney Collins, PhD, Director, McCann Worldgroup Truth Central said: “Anthropologists have long understood the role of humor as central to cultures the world over, but this study highlights how Britishness is not only founded upon a deep appreciation of humour as an essential connective tissue, but also how concerns about the shape of British moral decency are being re-evaluated in a time of volatility, uncertainty, and a fracturing of social equality.”


Falling Trust in Institutions and a Rise in Inequalities

Pride in our great British institutions has also fallen across the board, except the NHS, with the Armed Forces, the police and the BBC all less beloved than they were at the time of the last McCann survey five years ago.

Furthermore, since the previous survey of attitudes in 2017, there has been a five per cent rise in people saying that equality is decreasing in society, while in the workplace the percentage of people experiencing improvements in gender equality has fallen from 34% to 26%.


The Joy of Being British

When asked to come up with something quintessentially British, 22% put ‘tea’ at the top of their list, followed by the Royal Family and fish & chips. Only 2% ranked the qualities of being ‘hardworking’ or ‘caring’.

The greatest pride in being British is among Northerners and Londoners, with the least felt in the South East and Northern Ireland. Worst of all was in East Anglia, where only 54% of folk feel pride in their nation. 

Among ethnic groups, British Asians express the greatest sense of national pride (60%) compared to White British at just 46%.


Calls for Decency in an Age of Indecency

There is also a renewed call for decency in British society: we’re beset by worries about modern parenting standards, and a majority blame a lack of strictness with kids for society being ‘less ethical’ than it was 20 years ago. The internet, meanwhile, is viewed as the second greatest threat to our moral fabric.


The Role for Brands in Britain’s Future

Coming amid a period of cascading crises – war, spiralling cost of living and the constant drumbeat of Covid – the research shows British people are increasingly comfortable with their favourite brands entering political discourse or taking a strong stance on climate issues. 

High levels of trust in supermarkets indicate an affinity with brands that have been leaders in times of uncertainty, with 65% of people seeing supermarkets as trustworthy, outperforming politicians thricefold who garner only 27%.

Harjot Singh, global chief strategy officer, McCann said: “Truth about Britain is really an interrogation of Britishness. The last time we interrogated this notion of Britishness was pre-Brexit, pre-pandemic and pre-war. Our focus is to make populist work for populist brands and our research is aimed at providing an understanding at that level – so that our work always lands in culture in a way that’s both current and enduring at once. Truth about Britain is our approach to staying informed and alert to how British culture is evolving and manifesting in real time.”

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McCann UK, Fri, 29 Apr 2022 14:53:47 GMT