£1m ad bid to draw people back to city centre

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A NEW £1 million marketing campaign to draw people back to Edinburgh city centre was unveiled today, following the failed and widely criticised “Incredinburgh” ad blitz.

The two-year drive, under the slogan “This is Edinburgh”, will also seek to enhance a tram work-free city centre following years of misery for shopkeepers and residents.

This Is Edinburgh campaign. Picture: Comp

This Is Edinburgh campaign. Picture: Comp

The campaign – exclusively unveiled here – will be targeted both at Capital residents and people living within two hours’ travel time of the city.

Organisers say they aim to generate an extra £50 million worth of spending in the city centre within that time.

Beginning on Monday, it shuns the iconic tourist images of Edinburgh in favour of other views, familiar to those who know the city, in a bid to recapture their interest.

The initiative is spearheaded by arms-length council agency Marketing Edinburgh and is the first major marketing exercise for the Capital since the “Incredinburgh” campaign at the end of 2012, which was abandoned amid criticism from council chiefs and ridicule from the public.

It also comes after the tram works have finally disappeared from the city centre and just as the trams themselves are about to start running.

A survey undertaken last year revealed that although the quality of Edinburgh’s shops, restaurants and pubs was rated highly, 92 per cent of residents questioned felt the tram works had affected their enjoyment of the city centre. Some 28 per cent said they were shopping there less often than a couple of years ago.

But in a recent questionnaire, 87 per cent said they were now open to coming back into the city centre more often.

Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, said: “There’s no doubt the disruption Edinburgh has experienced over the last few years has had an effect on its city centre.

“But that’s all in the past now. Edinburgh’s back to looking its best and this campaign emphasises the many reasons why people should come and enjoy what’s on offer here.”

With Princes Street and the city centre clear of tram works, the run-up to Christmas saw footfall in the city centre up by as much as 30 per cent during some weeks in December despite stormy weather.

The challenge now is to capitalise on that boom and turn it into a year-round increase in trade.

The new campaign is funded by £400,000 each from Marketing Edinburgh and Essential Edinburgh – which runs the business improvement district (BID) – with the rest made up by the city council.

It is the work of Capital-based agency The Lane, which won the contract against competition from three other firms, including The Leith Agency, which was behind the Incredinburgh campaign.

The Lane, which operates from Fettes Park in Ferry Road, also does work for Edinburgh Airport, ESPC, National Galleries of Scotland, Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools and Nick Nairn Cook School, among others.

The drive is intended to take a “contemporary and cosmopolitan” approach that avoids cliché and reflects the city as it really is.

Mr Neal said: “We think that those who live and work here will instantly recognise This is Edinburgh as a real representation of the city centre; diverse, original and full of character.”

From Monday, adverts will appear on TV, billboards, the sides of buses, at stations, on trains and online. The first television ad will be aired on STV at 7.45pm during Coronation Street.

It will run on STV for five weeks to the end of March, and will be available as on-demand video viewing for STV and Channel 4.

The campaign will be extended to social media to encourage Edinburgh residents to get involved and share their favourite places to see and visit.

Celebrities including cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, 37, Sunshine on Leith actress Freya Mavor, 20, singer Nina Nesbitt, 19, and chef Martin Wishart, 44, are also involved, sharing their own Edinburgh insider tips on the campaign website, www.thisisedinburgh.org.uk.

The campaign is focused on the centre – defined as extending from Holyrood to Haymarket and Stockbridge to Chambers Street – and aims to increase footfall in this area by two per cent above the national average. New events and activities are planned, including a fashion map of the city to be released next month, as well as “dress-up stores” where shoppers will be professionally styled and photographed. There will also be new film and fashion events.

Posters being used in the campaign include one to promote the city’s art galleries with the slogan “Going to the pictures is great. And free.”

Another highlighting the Museum of Childhood shows Subbuteo pieces with the words: “Show the grandkids how you played football.”

One featuring Mary King’s Close reads: “Our city has a totally different kind of Underground.”

And one advertising Edinburgh’s mix of shops and eating places carries the legend: “Buy your wardrobe, then choose a table.”

There are two different TV ads for the campaign. One – which can be viewed on the Evening News website, takes the theme of “A Day Out with Dad” and features a couple of children visiting various places in Edinburgh – from the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street to the Outlook Tower at the top of the Royal Mile – with their father and having fun exploring what the Capital has to offer.

The advert is voiced by a wee boy who ends by saying: “This is my city. This is Edinburgh.”

The adverts will not appear during the summer months, when the city is already busy with visitors, but they will resume in September and run till the end of the year, seeking to encourage people from Edinburgh and the Lothians to make the most of the city shops and attractions on their doorstep.

The estimated reach for the initial launch campaign is 1,193,640 adults.

Council leader Andrew Burns said: “Edinburgh is a unique and world-class place but we recognise that some folk may be out of the habit of coming into town. This campaign lets the city speak for itself, reminding people of the fantastic and diverse proposition that the city centre has to offer. It comes at a great time and there are great potential gains to be had.”

The marketing drive has won the backing of key city centre businesses. Gordon Drummond, director of Harvey Nichols in St Andrew Square, said: “It’s very encouraging that local businesses have leant their support to this new campaign through their investment in the BID company, Essential Edinburgh.

“I’m sure it will reposition Edinburgh at the forefront of the minds of our consumers and tempt new visitors. We are really delighted to support This is Edinburgh and the joined-up city centre approach. I’m looking forward to seeing the campaign go live next week and we’re excited about getting involved in future events.”

David Johnston, development director of Montpeliers, which runs a number of city-centre venues, said: “We look forward to seeing great results over the coming years.”


INCREDINBURGH was the first big campaign undertaken by the city council’s arms-length agency Marketing Edinburgh, set up in 2011 with £1.2 million of taxpayers’ money.

Unveiled in October 2012, the campaign featured a series of too-clever plays on the word Edinburgh, such as “paint the town redinburgh” and “shop here instedinburgh”.

The award-winning Leith Agency came up with the theme, but it sparked a frenzy of ridicule from critics.

Senior councillors and officials had been unimpressed when they were shown the concept and asked for a rethink.

But Marketing Edinburgh pressed ahead.

Leith Agency creative director Gerry Farrell was suspended after sparking a public row with deputy council leader Steve Cardownie. And by Christmas 2012, Lucy Bird had resigned her £100,000 post as chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh.


Andrew Burns, Leader, Edinburgh City Council

“This is Edinburgh.” It’s a straightforward statement, but sometimes simple is best.

On seeing our campaign for the first time, I immediately started to think about the city centre, and how much there is to do there.

For me, This is Edinburgh conjures up images of a family day out at the National Museum of Scotland, followed by a Sunday lunch at The Outsider Restaurant, and maybe a few pints in the Bow Bar at the end of the afternoon! All within easy walking distance of each other.

But city-centre favourites vary from person-to-person; and that’s the point. With so much to choose from, there’s something for everyone.

Highlighting that point – from independent shopping to family days out – is just one of the reasons why I like the campaign so much.

Another is the fact that it couldn’t differ further from the tourist view of Edinburgh.

This is the Edinburgh that you and I, those who love living here, really know. It shows the city as a modern, energetic place that’s stunning, full of life and boasts lots of hidden gems, from the great vintage store Armstrongs in the Grassmarket to enjoying a meal and cocktail (or two) with friends in George Street.

It also illustrates our wry sense of humour – my personal favourite is the poster advert showing Mary King’s Close. “Our city has a totally different kind of Underground.” Brilliant.

Of course, there’s a very specific objective behind all of this – bringing people back into the city centre.

It’s been a tough few years in many ways but the town is looking better than it has in a long time and we have much to be proud of. By giving people compelling reasons to come, such as brand-new events and special discounts, This is Edinburgh is projected to generate £50 million for the local economy over the next two years. That’s excellent news.

Edinburgh is consistently voted the UK’s favourite city – and deservedly so. Our beauty, our people, our culture – nowhere else can beat it. This is Edinburgh celebrates Scotland’s capital the way it deserves to be. No gimmicks, no stunts, just a simple statement of pride that will help to remind both residents and those within a two-hour travel time that our city centre is the place to be.

‘City has a pretty good image’

Do you think Edinburgh needs a campaign to boost the image of the city centre?

Mercedes Vevymck, 36, Granton: “I think the city is beautiful as it is, but too much time and money is spent to attract tourists at the expensive of people who love and live here.”

Steven Vettriano, 21, Royal Mile: “It is the Year of Homecoming so it might need a little boost, but people from around the world have an image of what Edinburgh is like and it never disappoints.”

James Spencer, 21, Royal Mile: “The city has a pretty good image as it is. I cannot think of one person who has come here and hated it.”

Arlene Donaldson, 50, Dalkeith: “Maybe parts of the city need a revamp but the majority is attractive as it is, and has already seen a lot of progress.”

Graham Smith, 55, Edinburgh: “It is always worthwhile to take a step back, but to me there is nothing in particular. It is the capital of Scotland so needs to be comfortable and attractive to everyone.”