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Marketing Welsh in an ambivalent context, by Colin H Williams


4. Illustration of the Welsh Language Board’s Marketing Strategy

4.1. Iaith Gwaith/Working Welsh

Providing an opportunity to use Welsh is one challenge, ensuing that people actually take advantage of such opportunities is quite another. Iaith Gwaith (Working Welsh), launched in 2000, sought to increase the use of Welsh by promoting the fact that a bilingual service was available to customers. It aimed to encourage employees who have daily contact with members of the public to wear a badge, enabling customers to identify staff who are able and happy to speak Welsh. The scheme included a range of print material, available free of charge to organizations and may be viewed on the Board’s website.(13)

However, the scheme was not an automatic success. An independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the scheme revealed that there was a very low level of awareness among the sampled businesses. There was little spontaneous specific recall of the scheme’s name/ branding in any of the consumer groups, while many respondents did recall a badge system unprompted. 80% of general businesses had never seen or heard of the Iaith Gwaith scheme. Some 72% of businesses, who received Iaith Gwaith materials, remember doing so (after being prompted). Yet a majority of the businesses had themselves initiated contact regarding Iaith Gwaith, rather than being approached by the WLB. Some 65% of businesses who remembered receiving materials had requested them from the WLB (Beaufort, 2002).

Thus despite an intensive marketing campaign the first foray of the Welsh Language Board into this sector was not very successful. The general lack of awareness of the Iaith Gwaith scheme was a worrying issue; in that only 1 in 5 of the (SMEs) in Wales had heard of the scheme.

The WLB bilingual speaker identity badge was clearly a most important resource but worked most effectively in conjunction with supporting materials, particularly window stickers, open/closed signs and other semiotic material. The respondents reported that the then current design looked tired and dated. Thus the WLB took the opportunity to introduce a new, more contemporary design and adopted a new corporate image in all its publications, office spaces and visuals (see above and the WLB website for illustrations).

In seeking to influence the activities of larger organizations, it was argued that the WLB should work in partnership with key organizations to integrate the Iaith Gwaith branding to the company’s own ID badges/ literature. However, it was recognized that information provided in such integrated literature needed to define clearly the purpose of the scheme so that the Iaith Gwaith message would not be lost because of the reluctance of large companies to exhibit other heavily branded materials.(14)

The WLB adopted the following key recommendations: - print material should contain clear and concise messages in order to ensure a better understanding of the scheme; a programme of awareness building was needed at the first stage, aimed at consumer/ business audience; greater use could be made of a TV advertising campaign, using S4C/ ITV together with press advertisements in English and Welsh papers including business magazines and trade papers; this then should be followed by direct marketing campaign to businesses/ organizations (mail-outs) to increase take-up of scheme, targeting theretail, tourism and hospitality sectors. The revamped Iaith Gwaith scheme is now far more effective, interactive and project-based.(15)

4.2. Give it a go/Cymraeg yn Gyntaf

A second scheme started in 2003, Cymraeg yn Gyntaf, sought to persuade organisations and individuals to offer and to use a Welsh or bilingual service. It also sought to encourage the public to feel confident about using those services, because earlier research had demonstrated that often when there was a choice of language service people still did not use Welsh. The reasons given were predictable but still difficult to ameliorate. They included the fact that people were not used to receiving a service in Welsh; or they took for granted that a Welsh language service was not available and did not feel confident enough to ask for a service in Welsh if they were not sure. BOUDREAU A., DUBOIS L., MARAIS J., MC CONNEL G. (2002), L’écologie des langues / Ecology of languages, Mélanges William Mackey / Homage to William Mackey, Paris, L’Harmattan.

Consequently the Cymaeg yn Gyntaf campaign’s main target audience is people who speak Welsh; organizations that can offer Welsh language services; workers who can offer a Welsh language face to face service. Many of the messages would be familiar to a Catalan audience, such as ‘Dechreuwch bob sgwrs ynGymraeg’ Start all conversations in Welsh’. The slogans and messages of the first Catalan campaigns, such as “el català depèn de vostè” (Catalan depends on you), “el català és cosa de tots” (Catalan is everybody’s business) or “el català per respecte a tu matiex i a els altres” (Catalan for self respect and respect to others) were very general and sought to change the attitudes of the whole population. Having recognised that general messages only go so far, the Welsh, like the Catalans, have targeted different audiences with specific messages.

In 2003 the campaign targeted seven towns, Rhuthin, Llanrwst, Y Bala, Aberystwyth, Ammanford, Caernarfon and Fishguard and was organised by a working party of officers fromMentrau Iaith (Community Action Initiatives), Local Language Plans and the Welsh Language Board. The WLB commissioned a before and after evaluation by MRUK on the impact of the campaign.

Advertising, marketing materials and local activities were chosen for detailed evaluation. The visual, iconographic and semiotic elements included local faces and local strap lines tailored to suit the needs of the different areas.(16) More generic items used included street banners, billboards, posters, and credit cards – contact information, counter signs, window stickers, balloons, information leaflets, coasters/beer mats, biros and panels. Local and national media attention was secured by placing stories in local papers (papurau bro), engaging in lively items on local radio e.g. Radio Ceredigion, national radio Radio Cymru, and items on ‘Prynhawn Da’an afternoon magazine programme on S4C. Over 70 local activities were arranged ranging from a shop window competition, a St David’s Day gig, a Pub Eisteddfod, a Sali Mali Tour, the opening of a ‘Wythnos Cymraeg yn Gyntaf ‘ shop, various street and community shows, a sponsored bike tour from Fishguard to Cardigan and evening concerts featuringyoung bands.

The MRUK results indicated that 6 out of 10 people remember seeing the campaign, while the posters and banners made the biggest impact. Passive reception and recall is one thing, securing a change of behaviour quite another. Thus 44% of the sample said that the campaign has succeeded in persuading them to use more Welsh. 35% said that they are more likely to use Welsh first when they greet someone new. 30% said in the future they are less likely to assume that the other person does not speak Welsh. The WLB has adapted the campaign by cutting down on the range and re-designing more flexible materials.


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