Ad guru slams Cardownie over Incredinburgh campaign

Councillor Steve Cardownie was not a fan of the 'incredinburgh' slogan. Picture: TSPL

Councillor Steve Cardownie was not a fan of the 'incredinburgh' slogan. Picture: TSPL

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CONTROVERSY over Edinburgh’s new “incredinburgh” marketing campaign has erupted again after the advertising guru behind it launched an attack on the city’s deputy leader, branding him poisonous.

Gerry Farrell, creative director at the Leith Agency, has hit back at Steve Cardownie after he demanded key slogans be dumped from the £300,000 festive promotional drive.

Gerry Farrell, creative director of the Leith Agency

Gerry Farrell, creative director of the Leith Agency

He believes Cllr Cardownie deliberately hijacked the campaign after a presentation just weeks before it was due to be publicly unveiled.

But he has been accused of descending into “gratuitous personal insults” by the council boss, who accused him of being “unprofessonal” for a string of comments made on twitter in the last 24 hours.

Mr Farrell, who has worked on some of Scotland’s most successful advertising campaigns, has been taking on critics on his personal twitter profile since news of the criticism from the council emerged more than two weeks ago.

He has branded Cllr Cardownie - who he blames for leaking the authority’s unhappiness with the campaigning - “King Cobra” and accused him of spreading poison about the campaign, the first to be drawn up for the council-funded Marketing Edinburgh agency.

Cllr Cardownie, who was left furious after Marketing Edinburgh decided to use several slogans in its Christmas and Hogmanay material, was dubbed “Leaker-in-Chief Steve Carbattery”, “Steve Carbootsale” and “Hissing Steve”.

However Cllr Cardownie has denied being the source of the leak, which led to international media coverage of the campaign and huge debate on twitter about the merits of incredinburgh and a host of other slogans dreamt up by Mr Farrell and his team.

Mr Farrell - who vowed on twitter to defend the #incredinburgh campaign against “turd-slingers” - insists Cllr Cardownie has been the only senior figure in the council to speak out against the campaign.

Council leader Andrew Burns and Lord Provost Donald Wilson attended last week’s glitzy campaign launch, while Sue Bruce, the council’s chief executive, sits on Marketing Edinburgh’s board.

The local authority put £1.2 million to get Marketing Edinburgh off the ground last year. Council sources were quoted last week saying the body had been suicidal to go against the wishes of elected politicians with its campaign.

In one recent tweet, Mr Farrell states: “Phew! No leaks to media today from Deputy Steve Carbootsale. King Cobra clearly run out of poison for the time being.”

In another, he said: “#incredinburgh still causing a buzz. Winter TV goes live on Sunday in Downton Abbey and X- Factor. Golden media silence from Hissing Steve.”

Cllr Cardownie said: “It is disappointing Gerry Farrell should descend into gratuitous personal insults like this. He should have broad enough shoulders to take the criticism.

“I was only critical of this particular campaign. I have actually lauded the Leith Agency over their other campaigns, but I just didn’t like this campaign when it was presented to us.”

“I’d have thought it would not be very good for his business that he cannot take legitimate criticism and resorts to a tirade of personal abuse. I think I’m entitled to have an opinion on it.

“I didn’t leak anything at all, but I did make my views clear to the other members of the group, so it was not a huge surprise that this entered the public domain.”

Mr Farrell said he would welome face-to-face talks with the deputy leader of Edinburgh Council.

He said: “I would love to meet him face-to-face, one-to-one and discuss this in private, not through the media, as should have happened in the first place.

“Face to face private discussions are part of the creative process. Better work is arrived by concensus than is ever achieved by diktat.”