In 2013 Plymouth was rebranded as Britain’s Ocean City.

The process was instigated to bring a sense of realism and pride to the city following a half-baked campaign portraying it as Positively Plymouth in 2010.

Given that Plymouth is a famous maritime location with numerous historical landmarks (the Mayflower steps, anyone?) involving ocean travel and exploration and a major naval base it felt like a natural and genuine proposition, rather than the forced, odd ‘positive’ line (I mean, who introduces themselves with a superlative in that way – “I’m clever Owen”?).

…apparently Plymouth isn’t anywhere near the ocean…

But today’s article in the local press has highlighted once again that people have taken umbrage with the wording, claiming ‘the French are laughing at us‘ (excuse the awful website – please try to ignore the constant pop up advertising that the Herald insists on including there).

The main gripe seems that apparently Plymouth isn’t anywhere near the ocean – the English channel ‘technically’ not being an ocean.


A technicality that only sailors would know/care about shouldn’t weaken the idea. The majority of the population would probably consider the channel to be part of the sea/ocean (after all – if Britain was simply lifted from its position the channel would just be part of the Atlantic, surely). The whole point was to celebrate the city’s heritage in a genuinely positive way and keeping it simple and general is more likely to resonate with more people than substituting ‘Ocean’ with wording such as ‘maritime’ or ‘marine’.

The whole point was to celebrate the city’s heritage in a genuinely positive way

If Plymouth isn’t Britain’s Ocean City which city is? One with the closest proximity to ‘actual’ ocean? Or one with the history, links and courage to claim it?

As Britain’s Ocean City, Plymouth positions itself in a way that appeals to tourists – British, American and others. It recognises Plymouth’s past successes and people, and aspires to broaden its horizons for the future.


What do you think?

Is it a classic case of the haters wanting to have their say? Or is there a genuine case to say Plymouth is misleading people and hiding behind a false brand?