Tortoise Festival of ThinkIns – A family of brands: have the Royals pulled off a marketing coup?

Friday 28 June 2019

Duration: 11:15AM - 12:15PM

16-19 Eastcastle Street, London, W1W 8DY

Status: Completed

A family of brands: have the Royals pulled off a marketing coup? Windsor, Wales, Cambridge and Sussex: the four royal brands may just be a work of genius. Tradition and reassurance? You’ve got it. Modernity and compassion? That too. So many great British institutions are struggling to stay relevant and trusted, but not the Royal family. How have they done it? And (a question we never thought we’d ask) what can other brands learn from them?

Our special guests for this ThinkIn included:

Roya Nikkhah, journalist and commentator.

Sally Osman, former Director of Royal Communications.

The Readout 

Our ThinkIn asked: have the royals pulled off a marketing coup?

In a room of overwhelmingly positive sentiment, even from the instinctive federalists amongst us, our conversation touched on the limits of soft power, the tension between privilege and duty, and the need for constitutional evolution. I’ve reflected on three things:

King Charles and Queen Camilla: when he is crowned, the Prince of Wales will lead a different type of monarchy for a new British era. He has said he won’t be a ‘meddling King’, but these are fragile times (and the Monarchy remains a solid institution). There is a vacuum of leadership and trust where once there was at least the illusion of certainty. 

Modernisation happens slowly: is it enough that we’re glad it happens at all? The generational strength of the working Royal family means it can reflect more of modern Britain, and that’s good, but the 21st century celebrity couple aesthetic of the younger royals still has a strong conservative, patriarchal ideology running through it. 

A Very British ThinkIn: For the royals, communications isn’t part of the job – it is the job. Several people chose to express perspectives to me privately that they’d not aired formally for fear of appearing – what? Impolite? Treacherous? How much does hereditary privilege offset the right to privacy, even now, post-Diana? How much do we really want to know? 

What next?