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In a pessimistic Britain, which brands give people comfort?

Britain in 2007 is a pessimistic place to be, according to a national research project conducted by McCann Erickson and reported by Marketing. Gordon Brown has inherited an electorate from Tony Blair whose mood is confused and frequently angry. In the light of these findings, brands that offer stability seem to be in the best position. Here you can see a short video on which brands people trust, and what they would take with them if they emigrated.

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McCann Erickson's project involved a poll of more than 1,000 adult Britons, as well as focus group research with groups of neighbours from five streets across Britain, writes Nikki Sandison.

It found that the mood of the nation has plummeted since the optimism of the late 1990s when Blair first came to power and "cool Britannia" ruled. When asked to describe the mood of the country, the top six adjectives chosen were negative: disenchanted, uncertain, disappointed, indifferent, confused and angry. Issues that were raised included frustration at the "nanny state"; growing concern about immigration and terrorism; race relations; and climate change.

Nikki Crumpton, executive planning director at McCann Erickson, believes that these issues have led the public to rely increasingly on personal networks including family, friends and colleagues. She argues that consumers are, "insulating themselves from everyday life by thinking small" and will not tolerate big brands that distance themselves from the customer. Instead they opt for brands that are authentic and friendly. Crumpton also believes that brands like Innocent and Apple have succeeded by understanding the personal connections they needed to make with consumers and the tone of voice they must adopt. This is not to say that there is no future for mass market brands, but they must reject the temptation to assume their size will be an asset.

Crumpton said: "Big brands can still work but they have to act in a small way. It's all about humility. Brands have to connect in real ways or give something back."

According to the research, brands that build an emotional connection with consumers will be most successful in Brown's Britain, as will traditional names, such as Heinz, Marmite, McVitie's and Bisto, which represent stability.

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