The (Little) British Are Coming
Sure, you've twirled your share of linguini in Little Italys across the country and devoured chow mein and designer knock-offs in Chinatowns from Manhattan to San Francisco, but when was the last time you enjoyed a cup of Earl Grey in the Little Britain part of town? Maybe never.
Tea & Sympathy, a staple in the West Village of nyc for nearly 18 years, joined its neighbor, A Salt & Battery, purveyor of fish and chips in plastic baskets, and Virgin Atlantic Airways hoping to make a little room for the Mother Country by launching the tongue-in-cheek "Campaign for Little Britain." It nearly succeeded.
Tea & Sympathy owners, Nicky Perry and Sean Kavanagh-Doweset, began rallying support by posting a petition in their shop to be presented to "Mayor Bloomie" and have garnered endorsements from celebri-Brits such as Joss Stone, Sir Harry Evans, Kate Winslet and Simon Doonan. Perry says that when Gill Linton from brand communications boutique The Joneses first approached her about representing the shop, she said they had no budget for marketing. Undeterred, Gill worked with Linton to determine that one of the problems she faced was people having trouble distinguishing between Greenwich Avenue (where the store is located) and Greenwich Street (a few blocks away). But what if it was a landmark? Linton found a 1901 report in the New York Times that referred to the area as "The British Quarter." Thus was born the "Little Britain" campaign. The Joneses signed up Virgin Atlantic to pick up the check and launched the low-cost-high-return campaign with an event in the street, scored tv news pick-ups, and even spawned a segment on the Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay where A Salt & Battery cook Mat Arnfield went head-to-head against Flay.
The Web site campaignforlittlebritain.com, developed along with corporate partner Virgin, bolstered the efforts
with an "official guide to Little Britain in the Big Apple," which details historical British hot spots including John Lennon's first apartment and the Alexander McQueen flagship; free downloads of campaign stickers and posters with slogans like "What's one more Queen in Greenwich Village," and, of course, an online petition; and pleads their case by offering such convincing evidence as, ahem, "a landmark name like Little Britain will lessen the confusion between Greenwich Street and Greenwich Avenue." And if the campaign had its way, we'd all be speaking, well, English by now.