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Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 13:01 GMT
UK not OK by everyone
BTA logo unveiled on Wednesday, right, and our winner's entry from last May
The new BTA logo (left) and the BBC's winner (right)
How flattering. The British Tourism Authority's new UKOK campaign uses exactly the same slogan that won our Rebranding Britain competition last May.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, yet BBC News Online reader Keith Williams finds it hard to view the British Tourism Authority's new logo in that light.

The authority on Wednesday unveiled a new multi-million pound campaign to lure tourists back to Britain, dubbed UKOK.

Last May, our readers took part in a competition run with BBC Radio 4's In Business programme, asking for suggestions on how to give the nation's image a facelift.

The UK's OK
But wait, there's more... Nigel Brachi's contribution
Among the short-listed entries was "The UK's OK", by Nigel Brachi of Canada, seen above. The winner was Mr Williams, whose OK/UK logo is at the top of the page.

The graphic designer of is not best pleased: "I'm gutted. I contacted various tourism bodies last year to see if I could take this further and I never heard anything more from them."

Tessa Jowell
Tessa Jowell at the UKOK campaign launch
Last June he e-mailed his design to the Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell. Two days later he received a reply from her department congratulating him on his win.

One of the department's tourism policy advisers wrote: "I have copied your e-mail to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to the British Tourist Authority, the body which promotes Britain overseas, and asked for views on your proposal."

Coincidence it may be - brand makers are, after all, frightfully fond of wordplay and puns - but Mr Williams is struck by the similarity.

It could just go to show that there's not too many ideas out there

Peter Day, In Business presenter
"If they have indeed acquired it, I want recognition and I want it known that this is more than just a coincidence."

Mr Brachi, of Alberta, Canada, says: "If the tourism authority wants it that badly, maybe they should pay for it."

Peter Day, the In Business presenter who thought up the contest, laughed when told what the brand consultants had come up with.

"How extraordinary. But it could just go to show that there's not too many ideas out there."

A spokesman for the tourism authority says it is merely a case of great minds thinking alike.

"Some people have even said to us that UK OK is something they heard about five years ago. Perhaps your winner should approach our advertising agency about a job."

British understatement

The UKOK campaign aims to recover at least half of the 2bn lost by the tourism industry last year when visitor numbers fell in the wake of foot-and-mouth and the 11 September attacks.

I Love NY
One of the most famous logos of all
"But I do wonder if it's a bit too glib," Mr Day says. "It pretty much suggests that the UK is OK as it is, without recognising that it's full of all sorts of dark problems for tourists. They do wonder if they can eat the meat, about the state of the railways."

Despite the tourism authority's claims to the contrary, Mr Day says the slogan lacks the warmth and excitement of New York City's enormously successful and much imitated logo.

"Milton Glaser's 'I Love NY' was a bubbling affirmation of a city beset with problems. UKOK has none of that spirit."

Shortlisted entries
See also:

23 Jan 02 | Business
UK bids to woo back tourists
08 May 01 | UK
Should we rebrand Britain?
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