Councillor slams Incredinburgh firm over ‘waffle’

One of the posters from the controversial Incredinburgh campaign
One of the posters from the controversial Incredinburgh campaign
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Marketing Edinburgh, the firm behind the much-ridiculed “Incredinburgh” campaign has again come under fire for spouting “waffle” and seeking to “mask utter confusion” about its role.

Edinburgh Greens economic chief Gavin Corbett hit out at council-funded firm – which receives about £1 million a year from city coffers – after a hearing at City Chambers where it laid out its “strategic” goals.

Councillor Corbett said the company’s aims were “loose and impossible to measure” and added that it “did not know what it was here to do”.

But the promotional firm defended its position and said the draft service-level ­agreement (SLA) document – which was ultimately signed off by councillors – gave “really clear guidance on what needs to be done”.

The mauling comes just months after the firm was slated for its first campaign, dubbed “Incredinburgh”, which was dropped amid ­criticism culminating in one council source describing it as “one very long suicide note”.

Following the spat, there were a series of high-profile departures from Marketing Edinburgh, including its ­director of marketing Alan ­Gibson, chief executive Lucy Bird, her personal assistant Sharon Duffy and regional brand manager Ailsa Falconer.

In February, the News told how the firm had been handed an extra £122,000 of ­taxpayers’ money to plug a funding gap due to the economic ­climate.

Today, Cllr Corbett said the firm’s short-term vision was “all over the place” and councillors were being asked to back a ­“business plan that had not yet been ­prepared”.

He said: “I was deeply ­disappointed by the service-level agreement. It contained 12 ‘strategic’ aims, some of which were more waffle than I can digest at a single sitting. For me, an organisation of this size which has 12 ­‘strategic aims’ is seeking to mask utter confusion about its central ­purpose and role by simply ­creating volume.”

The Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart councillor added: “It’s not good enough. £1m is a lot of money and if we are putting it into ­marketing we have to make sure of what we are getting.

“I want Marketing Edinburgh to work, but the jury is still, I am afraid, very much out.”

Gordon Robertson, chair of Marketing Edinburgh’s interim management group, said: “The council’s SLA ­document gives really clear guidance on what needs to be done.

“We’re in the midst of ­delivering this work and ­continuing to promote our ­capital city to the world.”

Despite the criticism, Marketing Edinburgh has enjoyed two major coups, including luring the World Congress of Cardiothoracic Surgeons and the Annual Meeting and Exposition of the Controlled Release Society to the city.

In March, it said 132 ­conferences had been booked since April last year – which will bring more than 48,000 delegates to the city with an estimated value of £74m.