Gina Davidson: Phenomenally bad advertising

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THERE’S a huge billboard ad on the West Approach Road, which you can’t fail to notice when you’re heading into the city centre.

In large purple letters it shouts at you to Have a Very Merry Tyne of Your Life. It’s yelling, in no uncertain terms, that you should head for 
Newcastle and Gateshead to do the Christmas shopping.

Given that it’s been there for some time, Edinburgh is a bit late off the mark with the launch of its winter marketing campaign only happening this week, and not due to hit TV screens until next. But then I guess that’s what happens when the people paying for the campaign hate it.

Marketing Edinburgh is the body which, with funds from the council, commissioned a new campaign to attract more people to come here at winter – and beyond. It was to replace the whole Inspiring Capital brand which, while leaving many distinctly uninspired, was actually used by businesses and public bodies as an over-arching message, through which they could sell themselves.

But that was all to go, and be replaced with a new slogan dreamt up by the creatives at the award-winning Leith Agency. I was excited that it was the Leith Agency which was involved. I expected much. Maybe too much.

While the credentials of that business cannot be denied, and it’s no wonder that Marketing Edinburgh headed there for some out-the-box thinking, it would appear that they were out of their minds. You can almost hear the debate: “Edinburgh – it’s barry”. We’re Edinburgh, ya radge. Edinburgh . . . it’s incredinburgh. Aye, that’ll do.”

It’s hard to put this in print, but I agreed wholeheartedly with Councillor Steve Cardownie, that the slogan is appalling, trite and a terrible play on words. It is certainly not phenomenal.

Of course, reactions to slogans and logos are always subjective. It transpired that while some, like me, might hate it others, including the majority of the commercial sector, loved it. But the paymaster generals, Cardownie and council leader Andrew Burns, were unimpressed. Council insiders have even described the campaign as “one very long suicide note”.

So what to do? Of course there was no way the whole initiative could be abandoned at such a late stage in the day, so while the Incredinburgh slogan has been dropped, under the new, broader, Winter in Edinburgh message, you’ll still find “paintthetownredinburgh” and “wellfedinburgh”. Shudder.

And as far as the TV ad goes, while the graphics are lovely – as they would be from the creators of beautiful animated film The Illusionist – and the rap catchy (the contrast between pictures and sound is a good one) I just don’t get it. Who is it aimed at? Why does it suggest Edinburgh is a place infested with giant langoustines who want to go shoppng? What are they supposed to say about the city?

I also wonder how many people who are not familiar with the Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin, will realise it’s him chasing down these wayward, high-spending crustaceans?

It will be interesting to see what the council’s “monitoring” of its success involves and how much freedom Marketing Edinburgh is given in the future. But another problem with the whole marketing of our city – especially at winter – is that there are already other independent campaigns going on such as Edinburgh Sparkles – which I really like – to promote the Chritmas festival and then Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, which does what it says on the tin. Why do we even need a new campaign?

Without doubt Edinburgh does need a year-round brand to sell itself in the international tourism markets. Finding one that will please everyone is probably impossible. Finding one which is more incredible than the 
latest idea? Answers on a postcard please . . .

Festive jeers

SANTA is not coming to town folks. Well, at least not to Jenners.

House of Fraser, the company which bought the grand old lady of Princes Street when it’s previous, private owners abdicated their responsibility to the shoppers of Edinburgh when they could no longer stand the white heat of commercial battle once Harvey Nichols opened, has failed to live up to expectations once again.

Jenners, once called the Harrods of the North, has never been the same since it became a Fraser’s offshoot. All the unexpected items you could find hidden among its nooks and crannies were gone, it became a store just like any other but with better wooden panelling. Even Queen of Shops Mary Portas declared it had been ruined, that it “could be any shop, nothing special”. And now it’s going to be nothing special at Christmas too. The one time of the year when it could normally count on families flocking to see the giant Christmas tree and visit Santa in his grotto. The tree will be there, but Santa has been banished because of a “change of layout in the children’s department”.

Santa in Jenners has been a long-standing tradition for hundreds of Edinburgh families. The Scrooges at Frasers need to think again – otherwise they could find themselves 
having a very poor Christmas indeed.