EDINBURGH has unveiled its biggest ever promotional campaign - to kick-start a revival of its city centre following years of disruption on the city’s troubled tram project.
The £1 million initiative, which will run for the next two years under the banner of “This is Edinburgh”, will involve everything from TV advertising and billboard adverts to social media marathons.
Major new events planned include a month-long fashion and style festival in the spring, outdoor screenings during the capital’s film festival in June and a fortnight-long food and drink showcase in September.
Two new TV adverts – one promoting the city’s fashion stores and the other showcasing family-friendly attractions – will be broadcast from Monday.
A 24-hour social media blitz in May will see three camera crews tour Edinburgh to live-stream highlights of what it has to offer and raise awareness of its attractions among people living and working in the city.
The campaign, which has been backed by celebrities like cycling hero Sir Chris Hoy and Michelin-starred chef Martin Wishart, is the first to be launched by the city since it scrapped its controversial “Incredinburgh” marketing drive last year, despite at least £300,000 being spent on it.
The new initiative, which like the Incredinburgh campaign is being partly funded by the council, is being targeted at Scots within a two-hour “drive-time” from the city centre, rather than the lucrative tourism market.
It has been developed in the wake of concerns that people were giving the city a wide berth to avoid disruption linked to the tram project.
The campaign has been launched three months ahead of passenger journeys finally getting underway on the tram project, work on which began in 2007.
However the initial campaign material avoids any mention of the tram project, which went more than twice over the original budget, will finally start operating five years later than planned and involves a much shorter initial phase than originally planned.
A separate campaign will be launched by the council before tram journeys finally get underway in May.
Andy Neal, chief executive of city centre business group Essential Edinburgh, which is also helping to fund the This is Edinburgh campaign, said: “There’s no doubt that the disruption Edinburgh’s 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.
“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 a unique experience.”
The campaign – which will focus on the shops, attractions and nightlife in the heart of the capital - is being led by Marketing Edinburgh, the body which was forced to shelve the “Incredinburgh” initiative after a high-profile launch was hijacked by senior council figures.
A bitter behind-the-scenes row led to the suspension of the creative guru behind the campaign from his job at a leading advertising agency and the resignation of Marketing Edinburgh’s chief executive, Lucy Bird.
Her replacement, John Donnelly, a former commercial director for Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, said the new campaign had been designed to avoid any clichéd images of Edinburgh or “contrived” statements or slogans.
He added: “When we set out to create the campaign, we spoke with lots of different groups, listening to their opinions on Edinburgh.
“Our research found that residents had become very resistant and unresponsive to what they see as adverts of Edinburgh for the tourists.
“What did excite them however was the idea of rediscovering their city, finding its hidden gems and engaging in that conversation through social media.
“The ‘This is Edinburgh’ campaign will be visible in lots of ways; on television, on billboards and through new events.
“Social media is going to be an important part of that mix, helping people – particularly residents – to spread the word about their city-centre and really interact with what we’ve got planned.
City council leader Andrew Burns said: “Edinburgh is such a wonderful place to visit and this campaign quite rightly lets the city speak for itself, reminding people of the many fantastic and diverse reasons to spend time in the city-centre.
“The timing is ideal and it will act as great boost to the local economy.”