Nine years of GREAT Campaign

The GREAT Britain campaign is the UK government’s most ambitious international marketing campaign up to date, creating jobs and growth for the UK by presenting the very best of Britain and Northern Ireland to the world. Operating in 145 countries, GREAT unites the efforts of 22 government departments and arms-length bodies, working with more than 750 British partners across the globe every year.

To celebrate the campaign’s 9th birthday, on 21 September 2020, the GREAT HQ team has delved into the archives to pick out some of the most iconic moments in the campaign’s history so far…


A New York underground stop decorated with the GREAT Britain branding.

Established in 2011 in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, the GREAT Campaign’s aim was to capitalise on the attention the UK was receiving at the time and transform it into a legacy for the future. In a speech in New York, the then Prime Minister David Cameron set the tone:

“There are so many great things about Britain and we want to send out the message loud and proud that this is a great place to do business, to invest, to study and to visit.”

That single message remains at the heart of the GREAT campaign’s remit today.


A red double-decker bus in New York City representing GREAT Britain campaign.

Prime Minister David Cameron kicked off the GREAT Global Bus Tour in New York City in May 2013. The PM arrived in style at Manhattan’s Milk Studios on the special edition GREAT-branded London double-decker bus, on loan from Transport for London. This marked the first event in a global tour that that took in four continents and 16 countries over a period of 12 months, with a series of high-profile activations to promote the best of British across the world.


A yacht passing under Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with GREAT branding.

The GREAT Britain entry for the 2013–14 edition of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race showcased UK trade and tourism on a global platform. The 70-foot ocean racer departed London in September 2013, returning in July 2014 after racing more than 40,000 miles around the world. Below, the GREAT yacht passes under San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge in record time, winning the 5,600 miles long race from Qingdao, China.


Opening ceremony of GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai.

Opened by The Duke of Cambridge, the GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai was designed to position and promote Britain as the nation of choice for Chinese entrepreneurs and investors seeking to expand their businesses into Europe. Creativity and innovation were chosen as the key themes, capitalising on the country’s strengths in these areas. Speakers included David Heyman (producer of the Harry Potter and Paddington films) and Wang Jianlin (Chairman of Wanda), plus British entrepreneurs Jo Malone and Kelly Hoppen. Big-name sponsors including HSBC, JLR, PWC, Royal Mail, De Montfort University, BBC Worldwide, British Airways, Intercontinental Hotel Group and Sanpower provided support for the event.


Red GREAT sign in the middle, an old colonnade in the background.

GREAT headlined at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Located in the centre of Rio de Janeiro at Parque Lage, adjacent to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, British House was the UK’s official residence for the games and became the place to celebrate Team GB’s [Great Britain] performances. The venue acted as a platform for more than 20 cross-sector business, tech, tourism and cultural events, including the Global Investment Conference, giving UK businesses an opportunity to network with an international audience. A welcome reception was held for Team GB along with Andy Murray, HRH Princess Royal and Sebastian Coe, to mark the opening of the games.


Two racing drivers leaning on a sign: Innovation is GREAT.

In 2017, GREAT and McLaren announced a year-long partnership, using Formula One as a platform to promote the UK to a global audience. For every one of the 20 races in the 2017 season, McLaren’s F1 cars featured GREAT branding, highlighting Britain’s strengths to influential audiences. The initial year-long partnership has been extended in the years since, and McLaren continues to support GREAT at Formula One Grand Prix weekends and other events around the globe.


A team of 4 British chefs at the GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong in 2018.

The 2018 GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong offered a series of thought-provoking and lively keynotes, masterclasses, showcases, installations and performances. The festival brought together industry leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, educationalists, futurologists and businesses from the UK, Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea and the wider region. The future of food innovation was the topic on everybody’s lips, with talks from the UK’s top chefs including Tom Kerridge, Andrew Wong, Isaac McHale and Tom Aikens. The festival celebrated British food with Food is GREAT menus at Hong Kong’s hottest restaurants, showcasing the best of British ingredients and culinary innovation.


Woman in pink dress at the catwalk representing British fashion.

In February 2019, GREAT brought London Fashion Week (LFW) to the Durbar Court in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office building, with a stunning showcase of British designer Molly Goddard’s AW19 collection. Famed for her ruched gowns, the Killing Eve dressmaker displayed her ready-to-wear pieces to a select audience of fellow designers, fashion bloggers and influencers, including Edward Enninful, Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue. The show was live-streamed on GREAT’s Instagram channel and was further amplified by i-D, Grazia, British Vogue and the Times, highlighting the importance of the fashion industry’s £32.3 billion to the UK economy.


Image of the African continent with a line connecting it with the UK representing Africa Investment Summit 2020.

In January, the UK hosted the UK-Africa Investment Summit, attended by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ​21 African leaders and the Duke of Sussex. The event focused on trade and investment relationships between the UK and Africa, following the UK’s exit from the European Union. Several investment deals were signed at the one-day event, which played a vital role in creating lasting partnerships that will deliver more investment, jobs and growth for Africa and the UK.

2021 and beyond

GREAT will continue to promote British trade, tourism and education, shining a spotlight on everything that makes Britain unique – from cultural assets like music, sport, film and fashion, to ground-breaking British technologies, sustainable innovations, and manufacturing expertise.

Contact details

For more information about the GREAT Britain campaign, please contact Hollie Marshall in the GREAT HQ team at

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