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Britain’s Royal Party to Carry on This Summer

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding is a daunting act to follow, but Britain is giving it a go again this spring and summer. The country is celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s reign during the Diamond Jubilee in early June, hosting the Olympic Games in July, and rolling out the red carpet to promote other British attractions.

“We like to party in Britain,” noted Karen Clarkson, VP North America at Visit Britain. She was speaking at the New York Times Travel Show on Friday in New York, where she detailed the major events planned for 2012 and the marketing campaign to reach U.S. travelers.

Last spring Queen Elizabeth may have taken a back seat to Kate Middleton, but in 2012 she’ll be center stage. Her Diamond Jubilee will be highlighted by several programs, including a pageant at Windsor Castle, a concert at Buckingham Palace and a “massive flotilla of 1,000 ships on the River Thames where the Queen will appear on the Royal Barge,” Clarkson reported. This week the Queen launched a colorful website, that lists unique facts about her reign and encourages visitors to send her online messages.

The upcoming celebration and the marketing initiative are both noteworthy. Queen Elizabeth’s sixty-year reign is the country’s second longest on record. Moreover, the recent “marketing push is Britain’s biggest consumer-facing activity ever for the U.S. market,” according to Clarkson. The multimedia campaign is designed to appeal to American travelers, one of the country’s core audiences and among the highest spending foreign visitor groups.

The effort is “intended to showcase Britain in this milestone year and ensure the destination stays top of mind,” Clarkson added. The media plans include outdoor transit advertising in the New York area and a one-month television ad campaign aimed at New York and selected California markets. Britain also has a digital partnership with Yahoo and travel industry partnerships with Expedia and British Airways.

Great Britain: You’re Invited,” the worldwide tourism program, features celebrities such as Dame Judi Dench and Jaime Oliver promoting England in TV ads and short films. In the campaign’s latest version, “Share Your Great Britain,” citizens are asked to invite their friends and relatives from around the world to visit the U.K. An online toolkit includes the “10 great reasons” mobile app, which is part of the LoveUK Facebook page, and travelers will also be able to create personalized online postcards.

For visitors interested in more local British markets, Visit Britain also promotes “vacations on location or set jetting”, Clarkson explained. These trips feature movie and TV show locations, such as Wales, where Robin Hood was filmed, the southwest coast that provided the backdrop for War Horse and Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was shot. Clarkson observed, “Engaging with locals is part of exploring more remote areas and offers a gentle way to experience the destinations.”

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