Brits in Their 'Hood

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Move over Little Italy and Chinatown—you may have to make room in Manhattan for Little Britain. New York-based agency The Joneses, along with Virgin Atlantic, longtime West Village shop Tea & Sympathy and a growing collection of U.K.-associated businesses and area residents, are heading up the "Campaign for Little Britain" to designate an area around Greenwich Avenue and West 12th Street as an official British enclave. "Tea & Sympathy has been there for 17 years, and in that time it's become known as the unofficial British embassy," says expat Brit Rupert Newton, co-founder of The Joneses. "About 15 other British businesses have also opened in that neck of the woods. When you look into the varied history of naming New York neighborhoods, a lot of them started with anything from one house to one block. So then it was just a matter of thinking, Why not a Little Britain?"

Local opposition is minimal, thanks in large part to the light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek attitude behind the campaign. From wry posters to a spoofed political party broadcast, the group is using humour to win its way. Newton credits a collaborative effort as the key to success, lauding creatives Richard Dean and Pete Lewtas at Men On The Ground; director Matt Ryan; Deepend for web design; art directors Mat Kemp and Steve Rutterford; and logo designer Warren Elwin at Smoke, among others. In addition, Brit clothier Ben Sherman is creating a special-edition T-shirt to be sold at its Manhattan store. It's all aimed at driving people to sign an online petition, which the group will present to Mayor Michael Bloomberg on May 2. A mayoral thumbs-up is all that's needed for street signs and tourist maps to make Little Britain official.
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