Britain vs EU: adlanders pick their favourite brands

As the proposed October deadline for Brexit draws nigh, we asked four cultured adlanders to reveal their favourite British brand and which from the Continent has, over the years, found a place in their heart.

Dave Monk

Executive creative director, Publicis.Poke

Favourite British brand: HP Sauce
I could try to be cool here, but I’m not, so I won’t. When someone asks about great British brands, for some unbeknown reason my mind goes straight to the glorious HP Sauce. And why wouldn’t it – it’s a British icon. The Union Jack-inspired label, drenched in images of the capital’s great landmarks and named after the very building that the whole of Britain looks to for leadership and guidance (insert astute political comment on our current raft of humans housed inside this fine condiment’s namesake). What could be more British? Well, as it happens (and the more astute of you may already know), this brown unknown-vegetable-based food-paint is no longer made in the UK. It’s entirely produced in the Netherlands. Where does that leave us, and it? Pour some of that on your eggs and Brexit.

Favourite European brand: Lego
The simplicity of the product. The creativity it has inspired around the world for decades. The sheer joy it brings to almost every child and adult I’ve ever known (apart from perhaps when you stand on a piece of 2x1 in your bare feet). It is a timeless tool that has helped generations click together, even perhaps where words couldn’t. The colours. The giant sculptures. The incredible print ads over the years. The amusement parks, computer games, cartoons and, of course, The Lego Movie – arguably the greatest piece of branded content of all time. Plastic production? You could argue it’s the world’s greatest recyclable plastic. Thanks, Lego. Thanks, Ole Kirk Cristiansen and family, for creating the world’s most borderless toy and one of its most creative brands.

Sarah Golding

Chief executive, The & Partnership London

Favourite British brand: Charlotte Tilbury
The make-up counter has hardly been a bastion of Britishness over the years, but today, in among the L’Oréals and Lancômes, stands the wonderfully glitzy and showtime Charlotte Tilbury. Here is British fabulousness at its best. The make-up artist to Britain’s biggest fashion icon, Kate Moss, Charlotte has created a megabrand alongside her chief executive Demetra Pinsent, wife of British rowing legend Matthew. Stop me if this is getting just too British for you. But hang on, Ms Tilbury has also been awarded an MBE for her efforts. I got to know her when her son was in my daughter’s class at school, and she’s every bit as brave, bold and bonkers as you’d think. I am a huge buyer of her products, her passion and her place as Britain’s challenger to France’s cosmetics throne… Le roi est mort, long live our Queen.

Favourite European brand: La Vache Qui Rit
According to its Wikipedia entry: "The Laughing Cow is red and white and jovial, and is almost always depicted wearing earrings that look like the round boxes the cheese comes in." I mean what’s not to like there? Dairylea can try but it has just never quite cracked the Cow code. The Cow’s cheese is whiter and lighter and evokes endless childhood memories of self-catered holidays when I was allowed to have a Kellogg’s variety pack for breakfast, and my dad would begrudgingly embrace a few of the weird local culinary treats such as Le Vache Qui Rit and Bonne Maman jam. French bread and French processed cheese simply cannot be bettered. If the Remainers had campaigned with "Keep our cow laughing", they would have won the referendum by a landslide. But they didn’t.

Andy Nairn

Co-founder, Lucky Generals

Favourite British brand: HP Sauce
Named after the Houses of Parliament, it can be frustratingly thick, slow-moving and prone to bubbles but is also an essential part of everyday life and very good for the constitution. In fact, one might say that this democratic marvel symbolises all that is best about our country, since it represents a magnificent blend of quirky constituents, from all over the world. Apparently, HP Sauce became known as "[Harold] Wilson’s Gravy" in the 1960s, because of the then-Prime Minister’s fondness for it. Thankfully, the current incumbent of Number 10 has not expressed a similar preference, as squirting "Johnson’s Gravy" all over your food has altogether less savoury connotations.  

Favourite European brand: Eurovision
Yes, the decision-making process can be bewildering, the extravagance infuriating and the voting suspiciously corrupt. But the brand embodies the evolution of our continent, from blowing each other to bits to Boom Bang-a-Bang, and that is surely a good thing. In recent years, some Britons have complained that the UK puts too much money into Eurovision, for too little reward – but perhaps the real problem is that we haven’t taken it seriously enough and should have sent better representatives along to make our case. Either way, it would be a great shame if we were to turn our backs on this wonderful community and champion of harmony. For, in the wise words of Austria’s Alf Poier (sixth place, 2003): "The difference between people/between apes and primates/it’s not much bigger/than between noodles and pancake stripes."

Gareth Mercer

Founding partner, Pablo

Favourite British brand: Marmite
I love Marmite. In fact, I have always loved Marmite. For four years, I would take Marmite sandwiches to school, and not swap them with anyone. I love the ballsy "love/hate" platform – it gives the brand a truly distinctive and powerful point of view. I love Marmite advertising, which has been consistently brilliant and noticeable, even the smaller tactical one-offs like the recent #MARMYARMY campaign, with its dig at the Aussie cricket team for "Sandpapergate". I love how "It’s a bit Marmite" has become part of the vernacular. I love the fact that it was invented by a German scientist and is made in the heart of Britain, in Burton-on-Trent. The only thing I don’t love is that Brexit is the most Marmite thing imaginable, with extremists on both sides digging in and stifling growth for our country.

Favourite European brand: Spotify
My favourite European brand is a product of Sweden. Spotify is a brand that is just so, well, Swedish. It is naturally inclusive – everyone I know listens to music through Spotify, everyone in my family listens. I love the diversity of my friends’ music choices and how good that makes them feel. It has a very simple product structure: free with ads, or monthly subscription and no ads. It is so easy and efficient to use anywhere. It is open, allowing you to make and share your own playlists. And it is engaging and witty; the advertising adds a level of personality that ensures the brand is never seen to be dull, either with brilliant use of data, or with the emotional engagement of its recent and excellent "Listen like you used to" campaign. In the language of another great Swedish brand, thank you for making my everyday more wonderful.

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