OLYMPIC hero Sir Chris Hoy, violinist Nicola Benedetti and Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley are to spearhead a multi-million pound drive to lure people to Scotland on holiday next year.
The trio are appearing in a series of new television adverts along with several ordinary Scots which will be the centrepiece of the next “Homecoming Scotland” campaign.
A paramedic, a wildlife ranger, a chef, a swimming hopeful, a young golfer and a whisky ambassador also feature in the adverts, reciting lines from a specially-commissioned poem.
The “Brilliant Moments” initiative - which will be seen on TV screens across the UK over the next 12 months, has also been inspired by Scotland’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup next year.
The second “Year of Homecoming” campaign - which is being staged five years after the first - includes a £6 million programme of funded events across the country.
These include a huge re-enactment to mark the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, a new festival celebrating the life and legacy of conservationist John Muir, a month-long celebration of malt whisky and celebrations to mark 50 years of the Forth Road Bridge.
Other events like the MTV Europe Music Awards, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festivities, the Celtic Connections music festival, Royal National Mod, European Festival of Brass and Royal Highland Show have also agreed to be part of the Homecoming campaign, bankrolled by the Scottish Government and run by tourism body VisitScotland.
Around £5.3 million is being spent on the separate Brilliant Moments campaign, which will underpin much of VisitScotland’s work for the foreseeable future and aims to capitalise on interest in the two big sporting events which are being held just two months apart.
A key element involves encouraging visitors to Scotland to post photographs of “Brilliant Moments” they capture on social media sites.
Sir Chris, Ms Benedetti and Mr McGinley all deliver the final line of the poem in the adverts, which was written by a team of “creatives” at The Union advertising agency in Edinburgh.
The same company was behind the “Caledonia” adverts for the 2009 campaign which featured the likes of Sir Sean Connery, Brian Cox, Eddi Reader, Amy Macdonald and Lulu singing the words to Dougie MacLean’s anthem.
Among the locations featured in the adverts, which cost around £200,000 to produce, are the Ring of Brodgar standing stones in Orkney, the fishing harbour at Portsoy, in Aberdeenshire, and the Glasgow swimming centre which will host Commonwealth Games contests next year.
Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, said: “The Homecoming programme will involve every community across Scotland and throughout the whole of the year.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reposition Scottish tourism on the global stage and create a platform for our industry to exploit in the second half of the decade.
“For VisitScotland, this campaign is as significant a campaign as any we have created and perhaps ever will.
“The whole idea behind Brilliant Moments is real people. Yes, the campaign draws strength from the global events taking place in Scotland in 2014, but also demonstrates the friendliness and welcoming nature of people living in Scotland.”
First Minister Alex Salmond, who launched the adverts at the National Museum of Scotland, said: “The very last tickets for the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup is pretty much a sell-out.
“But there are going to be 400 events the length and breadth of the country next year, extraordinary events which are going to capture and captivate the imagination and hearts of people.
“That’s already been validated by Lonely Planet designating Scotland one of the three top visitor destinations for 2014, which is a hugely important accolade. It’s going to be an extraordinary year for Scotland and it will be fantastic to welcome the world to our country.
“This campaign shows that our people, our natural landscapes and our culture are tremendous adverts in themselves. It showcases Scotland as a must-see holiday destination but it’s also about Scots enjoying events right on our doorstep.”
Helen Campbell, head of UK marketing at VisitScotland, said: “We put a brief out to tender for a campaign to bring together and capture the spirit of the key events in 2014.
“The creative team at The Union developed the poem, which is the core of the ad, and out of that came the concept of ‘Brilliant Moments’, which they wanted to use real Scots to deliver, rather than actors, although we also felt it was important to recognise that we have ambassadors and fantastic artists.”
Watch the two other VisitScotland adverts:
The stars of the Brilliant Moment adverts:
Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy
Violinist Nicola Benedetti
Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley
Jenny Campbell - Scottish Natural Heritage Ranger, at the Ring O’Brodgar and Orkney Nature Festival
Sonn Breslin - Glasgow swimmer and Commonwealth Games hopeful, at Tollcross International Swimming Centre
Lewis Breslin - young golfer at Blairgowrie, which is hosting the 2014 Junior Ryder Cup
Ian Millar - global brand ambassador of Glenfiddich, at the Spirit of Speyside Festival
Ely Nathan - Chef at Gleneagles hotel
Graeme Hay - Paramedic and boatman at the Portsoy Boat Festival
The “Brilliant Moments poem, created by The Union advertising agency
“Every country has its moment. It’s time to shine.
When the universe conspires and planets align.
Scotland invites you, our stage is set.
For one brilliant year we’ll never forget.
Homecoming, the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup.
A year of surprises. A calendar filled up.
We welcome the world to come and to share.
So you too can say ‘yes, I was there’.”