Gordon Robertson: Marketing Edinburgh’s commitment to film has not been diminished

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It’s well known that Marketing Edinburgh has had its share of challenges and criticism over the last few months, some deserved, some not. Speculation surrounding our current restructuring of the organisation falls into the latter category.

When Marketing Edinburgh was first formed through the integration of three different organisations – DEMA, Edinburgh Convention Bureau and Film Focus – we always knew that some level of restructuring would need to take place, in order to be an efficient company with the right team and skillset in place, and with a leaner culture. We’ve taken time, looking very carefully at gathered evidence, to make sure that our new set-up has no wasteful overlap and is entirely focused on delivering economic return to the city of Edinburgh. As a part-publicly-funded organisation, I think everyone would agree that being as productive and commercially-driven as possible is a must.

Which brings us to the changes we’ve made. What we haven’t done is halve our film budget. In fact, by creating an organisation that also has marketing and accommodation experts as part of a broader team, we’re actually giving film in Edinburgh more support and direction than it’s previously been gifted with. Yes, the number of those people dedicated to film alone has been reduced. But it’s important to realise the services we offer have not – they remain as they were. The difference is that there is a changed, more cost-effective, streamlined set-up behind them. How can this be a bad thing?

Also, the planned-for reduction in public-sector investment in Marketing Edinburgh – a founding principle of the company – played no part in this move. Ultimately, optimising efficiency has driven change. We believe we can achieve more and bring better economic benefits to the city through an improved marketing framework, which we’ve now introduced. Crucially – and tellingly – we do not expect that the financial return from those film productions attracted to the city will fall in the next 12 months. In fact, after the following year, it’s our ambition to grow these figures, pitting Edinburgh much more profitably against its competitors.

Above and beyond its film offering, it’s important to understand Marketing Edinburgh is engaged in a wide-range of activities aimed at delivering economic and social benefits for Edinburgh. For example, the organisation boasts a very successful conference division dedicated to bidding for, attracting and managing major, high-profile events in the city – last year alone it generated over £74.5 million in economic benefit for Edinburgh.

Successes like this must be celebrated and also emulated in other sectors. But Marketing Edinburgh needs its city behind it – simply put, it can’t be successful without the right support. Certainly, you can be assured that the organisation has both good governance and a properly constituted board, with representatives from a wide range of sectors, including the University of Edinburgh, National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh Airport and the City of 
Edinburgh. The organisation has also attracted substantial private sector investment from more than 150 businesses throughout the city – all of which believe Marketing Edinburgh has its place and is an asset to the city.

Looking back over the history of the organisation, my own experience of Marketing Edinburgh has been a positive one. But our support is about much more than simply agreeing with each and every decision made. It’s about recognising that the organisation is proactively and positively promoting the city, in which we all have a stake to the rest of the world. The airport has worked with Marketing Edinburgh for the past two years and I can say – confidently – that the organisation has benefited, not just our business, but the city and that it has huge potential to do more.

Looking to the future, rest assured Marketing Edinburgh’s efforts and resources remain extremely focused, and whilst it is sometimes difficult to please everyone, the organisation will always endeavour to make the best, most intelligent and informed decisions for the city.

We’re entering a new chapter for Marketing Edinburgh. One that is leaner and more determined to make every penny count, whether it’s film, through conventions or the tourism market. Change can often be difficult, but sometimes it’s necessary to achieve your goals.

So, let’s look forward, come together and realise the ambitions that we all have for this beautiful city.

• Gordon Robertson is chair of Marketing Edinburgh’s Interim Management Group and director of communications at Edinburgh Airport

Capital caught on camera

CLOUD ATLAS: Science-fiction drama starring Tom Hanks is based on the David Mitchell novel. The Scott Monument proves one of the stars of the show.

TRAINSPOTTING: Adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel was directed by Danny Boyle and made Ewan McGregor a household name.

THE DA VINCI CODE: An earlier visit to the Lothians saw Tom Hanks film scenes in the hunt for the Holy Grail at Roslin Chapel.

BURKE AND HARE: The 2010 film based on the 19th century killers stars Simon Pegg and the Royal Mile.

CHARIOTS OF FIRE: The city skyline gets a great showing in the 1981 story of Eric Liddell’s heroics at the 1924 Olympics.

THE ILLUSIONIST: Jenners on Princes Street and views of the Old Town and Edinburgh Castle are identifiable in this 2010 animation.

ONE DAY: Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway star as Edinburgh graduates in the 2011 adaptation of David Nicholls’ bestselling novel. Arthur’s Seat is the setting for the romantic tale’s finale.