Tram advertising deal attracts global brands

Big brands such as Virgin are expected to be interested in 'wraparound' ads or naming rights for individual carriages. Picture: Esme Allen
Big brands such as Virgin are expected to be interested in 'wraparound' ads or naming rights for individual carriages. Picture: Esme Allen
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A STRING of global brands including Etihad Airways are among the firms locked in talks to decorate Edinburgh trams with advertising.

Sources have revealed a “wave of interest” from major corporations keen to plaster carriages with “wraparound” ads on the £776 million tram fleet.

It is believed Middle Eastern airline Etihad has already begun talks with the council while firms like Qatar Airways and Turkish Airways – who have launched daily flights from Edinburgh Airport – will be among the likely contenders for advertising space.

Homegrown corporations such as Standard Life and Royal Bank of Scotland – as well as prolific advertisers like Richard Branson’s Virgin – may also explore the marketing potential of tram ads.

The News previously told how the city would consider selling off naming rights for individual tram cars and stations while the Gogar tram depot roof could be offered up to sponsors keen to exploit Edinburgh’s busy flight path.

It is thought city coffers would be boosted by up to £1.5m per year from advertising revenue.

The first major promotional campaign adorning Edinburgh’s trams could appear within weeks after a report by Sue Bruce, chief executive of Edinburgh City Council, said advertising cash should be targeted in the “first quarter of 2015”.

Experts say the smooth launch and operation of the tram line may have helped overcome advertisers’ concerns about a maligned project that was said to have damaged the Capital’s reputation 
internationally.

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said the tram network may have needed time to bed in before advertisers felt sufficiently confident to become linked with the project

He said: “It’s fantastic to hear people are queuing up to get involved.”

“We always knew it would take six to nine months before brand owners started to take an interest, because of the mixed perceptions of the trams.

“Brand owners tend to sit back and wait – because they will only align themselves with successful products.

“And moving forward, we knew the trams themselves were always going to be a terrific success.”

And he said the trams would be an “extraordinary branding opportunity” for major firms.

“For the right brand owner to have their name on a 21st century transport system that takes people from the airport right along Princes Street into the heart of one of the most beautiful cities in the world – it’s such an opportunity.”

A full wraparound advert is likely to cost around £70,000 per year. Advertising space within carriages and branding at tram stops is expected to form part of any marketing deal.

Ed Brooke, the head of marketing firm The Leith Agency, hailed the virtues of digital advertising on the tram line.

“If you were just to stick static posters on the trams, soon enough it could become wallpaper and look a little dull,” he said. “You could be a bit smarter by exploring what was possible in terms of digital advertising.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We have received healthy interest both locally and further afield. Work is ongoing to ensure we maximise the value from tram advertising and naming rights and we expect to seek opportunities in the near future.”

nash.riggins@edinburghnews.com