It is the campaign that could help secure the future of Edinburgh’s main historic shopping thoroughfares – as well as attract hundreds of thousands of new visitors to the city centre outwith the summer and winter peaks.
The first phase of a five-year drive to bolster hundreds of businesses on and around Princes Street and George Street is set to be rolled out within the next days.
It is aims to off-set the impact of the growing trend for online, provide greater competition with out-of-town centres and help spread footfall across the city in the face of major new developments.
Light-hearted adverts drawing inspiration from classic Penguin book covers will be appearing on buses, trams, trains and phone kiosks for the launch of the campaign, which will also deployed on major social media channels.
A host of different images have been created to highlight everything from George Street’s fashion boutiques and gadget shopping on Princes Street to iconic attractions like the Scott Monument.
New festivals, events and promotions are expected to be rolled out under the campaign, Sign of a Great Time, which is aimed at supporting more than 600 businesses in the New Town.
They are fully-funding the project via levies paid to the Essential Edinburgh business group, which won approval for a new five-year term in the spring.
A key strand of the campaign will be to boost business in the west end of the city to curb the impact of new bars and restaurants which have opened around St Andrew Square.
A new £25 million indoor concert hall is expected to open in 2021, the year after the new St James retail and leisure complex is due to open.
The owners of the Gleneagles resort in Perthshire and the Malmaison hotel chain have also confirmed major projects on St Andrew Square.
Roddy Smith, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, said: “The city is no different from anywhere else at the moment.
“The retail sector is definitely under pressure, especially with the advent of online shopping and the popularity of click-and-collect.
“The essence of this campaign is to persuade people to spend a long time in the city centre, rather than just come in to somewhere like John Lewis and then go home again.
“A key premise is to challenge people who have not been for a while by saying to them: ‘This is what you’re missing.’
“We want to make people think about coming into the city for a day our at a quieter time of the year and think about doing two or three different things that you just wouldn’t be able to do at the Gyle, Straiton or Fort Kinnaird.
“It’s not just about people who are living in Edinburgh, we are really targeting the population of east central Scotland.”
David Guy, managing director of Guy & Co, the agency behind the campaign, said: “Over the next five years our campaign will reach out to residents and invite them to embrace the ever-changing beat of Edinburgh’s iconic city centre.”
A previous campaign, This is Edinburgh, which was launched to help the city centre recover from the prolonged disruption in the run-up to the tram opening, is said to have generated £50m of additional business over the space of two years, although it covered the entire city.
Mr Smith added: “Sign of a Great Time has been in the planning for almost a year and with the full support of our members, and Marketing Edinburgh, it’s fantastic to see the campaign become a reality.
“The vibrant creative will really grab the attention of locals and visitors alike and show what a truly vast and varied offering Edinburgh’s city centre has.
“There’s a lot of exciting activity to come from the campaign over the next five years.”