Re-Branding A Nation
Since the referendum in 2014 we have seen a sharp rise in the number of products being changed from Scottish to British, it is almost as if someone has decided to remove Scotland’s identity as a country and replace it with a regional status. Following the brexit vote in 2016 this trend has increased dramatically, the excuse being that Britain needs an appearance of solidarity so everything must now be “British”. This may sound reasonable given the fact that brexit isn’t going so well. Or could it be that England has very little of its own food and drink products to export so it needs to hijack Scotland’s to give the appearance that it is a global player in this market?
The truth is actually very simple, outside of Scotland there are very few globally recognised brands within the UK, after Brexit this will be diluted further. The UK government understands the respect Scottish products have around the world and wish to market these iconic Scottish brands as “British”. Its all about promoting the lie of a failing political union and the downward spiral of a once perceived Great Britain.
Turnover on Scottish Food & Drink has increased and is worth over £13.5 billion annually, food and drink exports have increased by 70 per cent with Scottish Salmon being the UK’s biggest food export and Scotch whisky now being sold in over 200 countries, this expansion of Scottish products into the global market is reason enough for some to want to brand these products as British instead of Scottish.
Haggis, Whisky and Shortbread are three products that are as unique to Scotland as the Kilt or Bagpipes they are so iconic that some south of the border would like to see them permanently removed from our Scottish Heritage, but these aren’t the only Scottish products getting the Great British Makeover. Beef, Milk, Strawberries and Salmon are just a few more of the many products made and produced in Scotland that are also becoming the victims of British identity theft.
Fighting for the future of Scottish Product Branding
We need to be asking the Scottish Government to take steps to protect the branding of our products, there are too many of Scotland’s iconic products being re-branded to make them British, this trend needs to stop. Scotland has some very high standards as well as a unique quality of product that people recognise, and it is because of this quality that many people prefer to buy Scottish products.
There needs to be legislation put in place to protect Scotland’s unique brands including the right to have Scotland as the country of origin clearly marked on all Scottish products alongside the Scottish National flag and not the flag of a political union. This is one of the powers that Westminster is trying to take control of in it’s Brexit power grab.
Tesco came under fire when it started to emblazon Scottish Beef with the union flag, in this example you can clearly see a couple of union flags, but there is no reference to to it being Scottish Beef except at the very bottom of the packaging where it states the country of origin as Scotland.
But its not just meat that is under threat of losing its national identity this is Scottish Salmon but as you can see, it’s branded with a union flag and is described as “British” made.
In 2016 many people took to social media to complain when Scottish Strawberries being sold in Tesco’s had the Scottish flag replaced with the union flag. According to Tesco’s reply on twitter this was because of “several complaints from English customers who objected to Scottish flags on strawberries in England”. Tesco’s were quick to dismiss the tweet and sought to appease customers in a follow up statement, but never the less the comment had been made and what’s more it was made by them on the companies official twitter account.
What can be more Scottish than Haggis, well according to a top haggis maker a “British Haggis” yes that’s right, A British Haggis. Stahly Quality Foods, based in Glenrothes, Fife, launched the controversial product to tie in with the recent Great British Bake Off. Packaged in the red, white and blue union colours, it is described as “Traditional Haggis in a skin. Made with the finest British ingredients.” Poor old Rabbie Burns must have turned in his grave when he heard that the “great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race” had been renamed The Great British Haggis.
Despite the Scotch Whisky Association claiming to do everything to protect the good name of Scotch as a Geographical Indication, the country’s largest distiller Diageo appears to have jumped on the great british bandwagon by promoting Bell’s Whisky as “British”.
Bell’s Scotch whisky has nearly 200 years of Scottish history and its Scottish provenance and heritage are integral to the brand’s identity, so why risk all that in what appears to be a marketing ploy? I would have thought that given the rumours regarding the USA wanting to mimic Scotch after we leave the EU and lose our PGI protection that Diageo would have been a bit more protective of its brand. Scotch Whisky is just one of Scotland’s iconic products that is under serious threat following brexit. Exports to India are growing fast despite a 150% tariff, so without the protection of the PGI that market could be replaced with a cheaper less quality Scotch made elsewhere.
What is Protected Geographical Indication or PGI?
As we leave the EU we also leave behind the protection the European Union gives Scottish products such as Scotch Whisky through “Protected Geographical Indication” (PGI) which means the recipe or method is protected and it has to be carried out in a specific location, without this protection we will find it difficult to stop other countries copying our brands and in theory counterfeiting our products. That is why legal steps need to be taken to protect brands outside of the UK once we leave the European Union.
The blatant disregard for Scotland and the replacement of the National flag on Scottish products has led to many people in Scotland refusing to buy products displaying the union flag.
Scottish Shortbread Inside A London Bus
How Quaint, How Very British, But Why?
Is this the future of Scotland’s Identity?
Here we have an example of what appears to be the total re-branding of a traditional and iconic Scottish product. In this example we see a well laid out scene, with all the typical things that people associate with London, like a big red bus, london bridge, nelsons column, the millennium eye, big ben, queens guard, black cab, oh, and another cab wrapped in the union flag.
But if you look closely you will also see that the word “Scottish” has been replaced with the words “Pure Butter”
So why are we seeing so much re-branding of traditional Scottish products?
Is it to instil the appearance of unity following the brexit disaster?
Is it in order to make products more appealing to the English market as was the alleged case with a well known supermarket chain regarding Strawberries?
Is it simply just a marketing gimmick to increase product sales?
Or is it that some higher power wants to remove the identity of Scotland as a country in a vain attempt to regain past glories of an English dominated Colonial British empire?
Whatever the reason we need to send a clear message to those that want to steal our brands and claim these iconic products as their own.
Remember that it is not just a flag that they are taking away from us, it is also the identity of a proud nation that is Scotland…