Improving Britain’s reputation as a welcoming destination for Chinese tourists

To improve Britain’s reputation as a welcoming destination for Chinese tourists, we invited them to create their own names for famous landmarks. The campaign was a viral success, seen over 300 million times on Chinese social media.


There is intense competition to attract Chinese visitors to the UK, and despite China being one of the UK’s fastest-growing source markets for inbound tourism, Britain has lost market share to key competitors like the US and Switzerland over recent years.

VisitBritain, Britain's national tourism agency responsible for promoting Britain worldwide and developing its visitor economy, needed to help reverse this decline in market share for the UK and capture a larger share of growth in this influential and lucrative market. To achieve this, the campaign needed to position Britain as THE destination of the year and make Britain becomes THE ‘talk of the town’. We needed to earn influence in a market where everybody else was buying it.

Strategy and Solution

There are two primary audiences which VisitBritain targets in China. They are young, wealthy, independent and open-minded groups that have the means and interest in travelling to Europe, and therefore are key targets for Britain.

Research revealed that Britain was perceived as not sufficiently welcoming, ranking 14th among 50 countries (Britain’s average ranking was 3rd). The UK’s stringent visa policy was the key contributor to this, as well as a lack of trade communications tailored to Chinese audiences. Chinese tourists saw Britain as emotionally, as well as geographically distant. A campaign was needed that bridged this gap. Britain needed to step down from its “ivory tower” and speak the language of the Chinese tourist. We needed Chinese to engage with Britain in all new ways.

The campaign kicked off with an official invitation from the British Ambassador to China, Sir Sebastian Wood. He recorded a video and hosted a media event at his residence in Beijing.

101 British points of interest were listed on a specially built campaign website ( where people could upload their names and vote for others’ names. More places could be named by visiting the attraction in person, uploading their names and photos to social media, and using the campaign hashtag.

Static ads went out on all forms of non-social media introducing points of interest that, surprisingly, had no decent Chinese name.

A launch video appeared in cinemas, taxis and OOH that showed people struggling to give names on the spot to points of interest being shown on a projector screen.

A die-hard Beatles fan was documented traveling to the UK to name famous destinations such as Penny Lane, Abbey Road and so on.


More than 13,000 names came in. Millions spoke about the campaign online. These posts had been seen by more than 300 million times on Weibo alone.

Joss Croft, Marketing Director of VisitBritain, said:
Chinese consumers are at the very heart of this campaign, so it was important to give them the opportunity to create history and build an affinity with Britain they’ve never had before. We made sure the campaign was fully integrated around a strong social idea that will connect the Chinese with Britain and get the whole country talking.
  • Over 2 million people visited the campaign pages
  • 27 million Chinese watched the launch video
  • Over 80 earned and paid KOLs covers an overwhelming majority of influencers in China.
  • Over 260 media released reports about the Campaign (4 TV & Radio, 156 mass print, 14 travel magazine, 95 portal, vertical and video platform)
  • A PR value over ¥15.2 million


2 Gold and 1 Silver award at Cannes Lions 2015

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