Chinese rename British landmarks

An Ogilvy campaign to raise awareness of Britain as a tourist destination yields hilarious results

A grim but colourful valley

A grim but colourful valley Image: David Sanz

What's the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear "strongman skirt party", or "grim but colourful valley"?

They actually refer to the Highland Games and Glen Coe in Scotland, but are a result of a recent campaign called "Great Chinese Names for Great Britain" aimed at promoting tourism.

Advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather started from the premise that, since during colonial times Britain has felt compelled to name every last corner of the planet after its tiny towns, it seemed fair to give Chinese consumers the chance to name some of Britain's famous landmarks.

The campaign was announced as December figures showed a record number of tourists had visited the UK in 2014, with nearly 20m tourists arriving in the first six months of 2015 alone. Together they spent a total of £11.3bn, with Chinese tourists tending to stay longer and spend more than most other nationalities.

Other suggested names include the "Tower to pluck the stars" for the Shard in London and the slightly less poetic "Big White Streaker" for the Cerne Abbas Giant - the figure of a man carved into a hillside in the South West of England.

Savile Row has earned itself the title of "Street for the tall, rich and handsome", which will no doubt delight the many upmarket tailors based in the famous London road.

For landmarks that weren't on the list, visitors were encouraged to take photos and upload them to Weibo, along with their translation and location. Dartmoor is now know as the "quaint and quirky wilderness".

The campaign garnered some 13,000 names in just ten weeks. The video recorded 30m views and shares across Weibo and WeChat pushed the total reach up to around 300m in total. Chinese tourists spent almost half a billion pounds in Britain last year, a number the UK government expects to double by the end of the decade.