Reports that £300,000 has been spent on choosing the Saltire as a symbol of Scotland have been dismissed as "silly" by the first minister.
The Saltire has been a Scottish icon for more than 1,000 years
The ancient banner has been picked as a logo to help promote Scotland overseas in a new Scottish Executive drive being launched this week.
Marketing groups hired by the executive concluded that "people regard the Saltire as Scotland's national symbol".
But Jack McConnell said the £300,000 cost represented a far wider campaign.
Mr McConnell said: "If we had spent £300,000 on research into the Saltire, then that would be very silly.
"But we currently spend millions of pounds a year promoting Scotland overseas and we need to make sure that we do that more effectively."
The first minister is expected to announce details of a campaign this week to sell Scotland to the world, including the blue flag symbol.
Scottish National Party MSP Richard Lochhead said: "All ministers needed was common sense to tell them this - not £300,000 or multiple advertising agencies.
Jack McConnell said there would be a wider campaign
He added: "The Saltire flag is recognised world-wide as the symbol of Scotland and should be central to any strategy promoting our nation abroad and which aims to capitalise on the tremendous goodwill that exists for our proud nation throughout the world.
"However, confusion reigns and the public or business sector are not being given a say into how Scotland should be promoted overseas."