Posted by Kristen Hyde on January 29, 2018 in AncestryDNA

Let’s take a moment to celebrate the enduring connection we have with Europe, one forged from our shared history and our DNA.

Because it doesn’t matter what our political views are or which way we voted. Our connection to Europe is woven into the fabric of who we are – it’s in our very DNA.

In fact, in a recent study of AncestryDNA’s database, we learned that the average British person is just 36% British – the rest of their ethnicity is made up of other regions, with Europe making up an overwhelming 60%.

It was this discovery that motivated us to make our new advert; a reflection of the connections that British people have to their European neighbours and a poignant reminder that no matter what happens, we’ll always be together forever through our DNA.

The DNA of the average Brit

The statistics referenced in our new advert come from a recent study of the AncestryDNA database. Through this research, we studied DNA data collected from 48,120 individuals with birth locations across the UK.

From this research, we were able to produce an ethnicity estimate for the average British person across 26 regions. While the average Briton is 36% British, over 60% of our DNA comes from regions across Europe. These include Ireland (23.14%), Europe West (19.48%) Scandinavia (9.10%), Iberian Peninsula (2.99%) and Italy/Greece (1.88%).

Through this research, we can see that not only are Britons more diverse than we think, but we have a connection with Europe that is anchored in our DNA.

Going beyond the politics

Knowing this, we wanted to make an advert that reflected the bond we have with our European neighbours. We may be on our way out of the EU, but through our DNA, our enduring connection with them is here to stay.

We are proud to be able to bring people together to celebrate their connections – both cultural and genetic – and hope that our new advert is a positive opportunity for us to celebrate our togetherness, now and into the future.

Kristen Hyde

Kristen is Ancestry's Social Media Manager for the United Kingdom.


  1. Charlotte

    Having watched your advert on the TV , which is nothing more than blatant political advertising for remaining in the EU , I shall be doing my utmost to ridicule a and denigrate your organisation to everyone I know on social media.

    Your conflation of being European as also remaining in the EU is , quite frankly. Ludicrous and insulting .

    It’s logic suggests that all of the Americas should also be in the EU because their DNA will also stem from that region…please, grow up.

    I don’t know who is advising your company in terms of its advertising….but they have failed, in an epic way.

  2. Alison Searle

    You should be ashamed of yourselves for making such an advert, it beggars belief.
    You really know how to make a person very angry.
    I agree wholeheartedly with Charlotte’s comments.
    Shame on you

    • Edith Robson

      I find this advert open-hearted . I am also 60% European, originating possibly in the Middle East. I have all my life considered myself a Celt. I am still that My heart belongs utterly to Scotland. But I am thrilled to find that I have so many connections to elsewhere. Brilliant advert. I hope it makes people stop and think instead of only looking inwards.

  3. Owl

    I agree, this advert was really poorly thought out. I am proud of my European ancestry but I still felt the advert came across as unnecessarily aggressive. I don’t understand why felt the need to politicise themselves. It massively devalues their company in my eyes. Yet they are obviously very proud of the campaign, as they sent out emails the day before telling us to look out for the advert showing at 8pm. The advert didn’t inform the public of anything they don’t already know. politicised and devalued their image for nothing.

  4. Emma

    I have submitted the following complaint to Ancestry by email. I couldn’t agree more with comments about the tone of this advertisement;

    Please could you formally note my objection to Ancestry subscription money being used to fund a contentious and political advertising campaign. The extrapolation of historical origins from DNA should be a matter of rigorously objective scientific analysis. This database should not be exploited by your company as a source from which to draw subjective statistical justification for propaganda films. As you have already publicly stated that this was not your intention, then I would suggest that the safest course in future is to avoid participating in political debates. Our subscriptions are paid in order to explore our family history by building accurate and well-sourced family trees. The money we contribute would be better spent on bolstering your service with more new record collections and original material – the only advertisement your company should need.

    Incidentally, I am 100 percent Western European – not just 60 percent – of which 96 percent happens to be British.

  5. Julie Houghton

    Sorry i find this ad offensive! We are Leaving the EU not Europe! For goodness sake take this Ad off! I will no longer use this site !!

  6. Abby

    I wholeheartedly support what Emma stated at 3.20 on 30th January and also wish to make a formal complaint.
    In addition you should be using your advertising to encourage more people to create and develop their family tree’s. This would assist so many users in their family history search.

    • Kim

      Hi, saw your post and agree, I’m 90% British and also an American! My lines all go back to Britain in the 1600’s! Would like to see more from that era.

  7. Susan

    I think Ancestry have manipulated the database to suit their political agenda and as a consequence have trivialised objective research and at the same time mis-informed the general public, many of whom don’t understand the parameters and algorithms used in order to obtain ethnicity breakdowns and therefore, your message is confusing and biased.

  8. Kathy

    “We are Leaving the EU not Europe!”, per Julie Houghton, 30 Jan 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Which is exactly what the ad is saying.

  9. Peter

    Thanks for your advert. I find it very refreshing that Ancestry have reminded people living in Britain of their mixed origins. My family have lived in A small part of Britain (Lincolnshire) for at least four centuries, and I was surprised to discover that I’m only about 15% British, and over 50% Western European. Maybe your ad will help some to think again about our shared identity. Thank you.

    • Michael

      Hello Peter, if you have lived in Lincolnshire for over 4 centuries you are clearly not 15% British. I can tell you that Great Britain is referring to England not the wider UK, so are you only 15% English? Statistically impossible.

    • Michael

      Great Britain DNA is NOT referring to celtic. This is why people have not trouble accepting low British results. Great Britain is referring to Germanic DNA. So likely your British has been mixed up with Western European which is very closely related.

  10. Christine

    I thoroughly object to this advert. Brexit means we are leaving the EU, not the continent of Europe. Highly politicised bias. You have lost a potential customer in me.

  11. M predeth

    I had been about to renew my membership as you will see from my email address I have been a customer for years as soon as I saw your advert it angered me obviously your marketing department consider themselves to be clever dicks and you obviously thought this would provoke much discussion well you were right about that but it’s also provoked much anger why would you want to produce an advert that would potentially isolate some of your customers Sam Goldwyn had it right he said an actor should not discuss politics sex or religion lest it alienate a section of the ticket going public you’re p brains in your marketing department would do well to remember that

  12. CaptainFog

    The only reaaon that the rest of Europe are sorry we are leaving is because the UK is a net beneficiary in the EU! As for European DNA – I’m sure that there will remain freedom of movement at some level in our DNA sharing but I hope that once the UK becomes more globally focussed that we shall also share our dna with other countries too.

  13. John

    What an offensive tactic! To manipulate such a controversial and emotionally-charged, politically-based subject merely to generate business is despicable. You are clearly attempting to manipulate the public and public opinion by presenting personal information in a misleading way. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I have reported this advert to the ASA and I would urge everyone reading this blog to do the same.

  14. Russell Whish

    Leaving Europe??… no we are not?!!! What an absolute disgrace of a statement. Completely inaccurate advert! Leaving the EU we are, leaving Europe we are not.

    I hope to see ancestry apologise for the bias and incorrect statement.

  15. Christian Cawley

    Why are you politicizing your service? Statistically, you’re splitting your audience 50-50. That’s insane!

    And then you invite professional liar Alastair Campbell to front your pro-EU propaganda…? What are you doing? Are you all on drugs or something? This is simply THE stupidest piece of PR.

    I will not be subscribing again in future, and I’ll never touch your DNA test.

  16. Barry Sharpe

    Good advert, you have inadevrtantly stepped into a bit of minefield though. As you can see from some of the comments above, it still very soar for many even the ones that won..

  17. David

    Like a lot of the people commenting here I was deeply offended by this advert. I’m even more offended by the disingenuous replies to criticism. This ad is clearly political and to pretend otherwise is to double down on the original underestimation of our intelligence. I voted to leave, if we are forced to have a second referendum I will not only vote leave but campaign for it, thanks to sly pieces of kulturkampf like your ad. I voted to leave the EU, the UK can never leave Europe as we are clearly part of it. I understand very well how our DNA is made up of folk from the continent and I know a great deal about our common European heritage. You’ve misjudged those of us who voted to leave, and you’ve misjudged your customers. You’ve certainly helped me move from being a leave voter to a leave campaigner. You’ve also managed to turn a happy and loyal subscriber to one who is cancelling. Sorry, I have to leave it’s not me…it’s EU.

    • Hils

      Hi David
      Re your point that: “This ad is clearly political and to pretend otherwise is to double down on the original underestimation of our intelligence.”
      – You may be interested to learn that the ASA has replied to my complain about this advert, saying that “Ofcom is the statutory regulator of broadcast advertising and, although they’ve delegated responsibility for most broadcast advertising issues to the ASA, there are some, such as political advertising, which remain within Ofcom’s remit. For that reason, the ASA is unable to take your complaint further.” They recommend taking complaints about this advert to:

  18. Hils

    I have just witnessed the clumsiest piece of propaganda since the Nazi’s tried using Lord Haw Haw. The advert is not only downright disingenuous (60% of our DNA is “European”. Britain is in the continent of Europe so therefore some of that 60% is surely what could be termed “British”), but also blatantly racist. Should those 40% who have not been classified as European be excluded? Are they not European enough? Is it the closer ties to the rest of the world that the people behind are really scared of? It matters not one jot where we are from or what our DNA profile might be, what counts is who we are as individuals, what we stand for and what we believe in.
    Back to Lord Haw Haw – I was reminded of Nazi propaganda for a reason. I thought that proud boasting of a belief in this sort of racial profiling and categorisation had been stamped out in 1945. Sadly, here we see it rearing its ugly head again. Congratulations for inadvertently revealing yourselves for what you are. I trust that your membership will react accordingly… and should their unsavoury politics not be incentive enough, I suggest you try reading the site reviews on

  19. Andrew

    The advert was great piece of Remain advocacy. But no doubt lost a lot of Leave sales. And of course it fudged the distinction between the EU superstate and Europe.

  20. C.O

    Ignore the negative comments you have hit the nail on the head, I absolutely love this advert! As a EU citizen living in the UK Ancestry has made me feel still wanted, more than anything the government has said!

  21. Dan

    How sad that you choose to bring politics into your services. Will you next be telling which party to vote in upcoming elections? We are leaving the EU, a political establishment, not Europe.

  22. Doug

    Let’s put the facts of our DNA straight as some people are confused about it.
    If you are of English descent then your ancestors are Angles,Saxons and Jutes (Germanic tribes) – Vikings (Scandinavia) – Normans (French – who are also descended from Vikings).
    If you are Welsh or Cornish (even some Cumbrian) then you are true BRITISH descent coming from the indiginous tribes of Briton who first lived here about 15,000 years ago.
    If you are Scottish then you are also of direct BRITISH descent from the Celtic Picts and Gaul tribes.
    If you are Irish then you are an ethnic group native only to the island of Ireland.

  23. William Rist

    I, just received my Ancestry DNA results in May 2018, I, had searched my family ancestry
    for about 12 years, and thought perhaps I, was mostly of German descent. My results were 52% Great Britain-20% Ireland/Scottish/Wales- 20% Europe West- 4% Scandinavian. I, have always lived in the U.S. I, have an identical twin and we noticed that surname Rist, was first founded in Norfolk, England around Castle Rising.

  24. Nick

    Splendid advert. Good of the Brexiteers to show their mouth-frothing foolishness openly as we sadly can’t depend on DNA to show intellectual rigour.

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