TODAY’S task is to think up a quirky, eye-catching and effective slogan to make people want to visit your wonderful city.
Nothing too obscure and off the wall – Incrediburgh, I’m talking to you here. Just something that will make those who have avoided the city thanks to it being a giant series of roadworks and “stop-go” signs for the past few years, suddenly feel it’s a place they can’t not visit, that they simply must see for themselves.
Hands up if you rejected “This Is Edinburgh” as being just a tad too, well, mind-numbingly dull. About as thrilling as that bowl of tomatoey pasta the dad in one of the adverts that accompanies the new marketing blitz slurps back like a man who’s suddenly discovered a new fangled thing called Pasta! and must eat it with the look of a starved maniac.
I suppose, though, we should be grateful. This Is Edinburgh – a £1 million, two-year marketing campaign – could be worse. For example, Atlantic City in New Jersey, merrily informed visitors that it is “Always Turned On”. And who could not want to visit Saratoga, Wyoming, “Where the Trout Leap in the Main Street” presumably because there are no pesky trams to run them over?
Roswell in New Mexico beamed out the message that “The Aliens Aren’t the Only Reason to Visit” but for the life of me I can’t think of any other reason to go there. Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s twin town of Dunedin in New Zealand bombed with the lacklustre effort, “It’s All Right Here” – a slogan that could easily have been “Why bother?”
Getting the right slogan is, of course, a minefield – just ask Nottingham leaders who spent £125,000 in 2005 to come up with “N”, a branding exercise that was rapidly rebranded “R” for rubbish by gobsmacked locals.
And so we have This is Edinburgh – a bit basic, fairly humourless and at best functional.
It definitely has its work cut out: as one who lives outside the city boundaries, I can tell you that there are few folks I know with the stomach for making the journey to town, so certain are they that it’ll still mean a nightmare car trip, expensive parking and shops which are easier to reach going via Glasgow.
But maybe instead of our gentle This is Edinburgh approach, we should just embrace that unique selling point with gusto and adopt a more challenging stance. After all, visiting for a day out is child’s play compared to trying to live and work here.
So, in the spirit of Trainspotting’s Francis Begbie: “This is Edinburgh, now come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.”