Getting closer to the Great British public

Newsworks, Flamingo and Tapestry research


How do we plan media in an era where disruption reigns, predictions are unreliable and the country is split into groups of people that apparently loathe each other? Newsworks teamed up with Flamingo and Tapestry to find out more about how the Great British public defines itself.

From the outside, it’s very easy to understand why so much rhetoric is based on how we’re so divided as a nation. Recently, cultural identity and populist sentiment around Brexit’s leave and remain camps has shaken up the historical left/right divide that has framed political debate for so long. Binary viewpoints that pitch imagined groups against one another at opposite ends of the political and societal spectrum have been central to how people, and therefore audiences and consumers, are grouped.

Here at Newsworks, we commissioned Flamingo and Tapestry to conduct detailed research into what divides us and what unites us as members of society. We carried out a nationally representative online survey among 1,000 GB adults. To really get under the skin of the results, our research partners Flamingo spent several days in two very different communities – Thurrock in Essex and Aberystwyth in West Wales (see the film below).

We have used the insights gathered to put together a toolkit for media planners, to help provide a more comprehensive understanding of audiences. There are many media labels that just don’t seem to fit, particularly from the perspective of those being labelled. As planners, we put labels on people for the purposes of optimising and simplifying the targeting process, streamlining expenditure and maximising profit. This can be highly effective when executed well, but too often we see labels become a shorthand for something that doesn’t actually exist in real life.

The implications for communications are far-reaching. People feel that brands and advertisers are out of step and hence are unable to connect with them. They are frustrated by what brands and advertisers say they should value and by the images they are sold. Most don’t feel represented in the advertising they see. People want to see things like graft, personality and community celebrated in advertising.

Recommendations for planners:

  1. Know what pulls people apart – fear, money and stereotypes
  2. Know what unites us – people want to come together. There are common human values that we all share which unify us. These values go beyond politics and superficial brand purpose
  3. Always check the label and your assumptions. Brands and advertisers are often out of touch with the ways that the Great British public want to be represented
  4. Recognise and explore new core values. Brands need to appeal to emotion and tell a story based around new core values of graft, personality and community.

Get closer to the Great British public here using our interactive planning tool