Edinburgh Airport’s communications chief has agreed to head a new task force to turn around the fortunes of the city’s troubled marketing agency.
Gordon Robertson, a former spokesman for the Edinburgh Tram project, will chair an interim management group to oversee Marketing Edinburgh, following the resignation of chief executive Lucy Bird last month.
A recruitment drive for a new figurehead has been ruled out in the short run, with the board agreeing a stop-gap measure, which will see the task force assist the two remaining senior directors, Sue Stuart and Alan Gibson.
Senior officials at Edinburgh University and National Museums of Scotland have also agreed to help out with the rescue bid for the body, criticised by the city council, its principal funder, over its first major campaign.
Ms Bird fell foul of some councillors after the tried to block the launch of Marketing Edinburgh’s “Incredinburgh” campaign, amid concern over the suitability of a number of slogans that were to be used.
Opposition to the campaign, including former council leader Jenny Dawe branding some of the slogans “absolutely appalling” had been leaked just weeks before an expensive launch event was due to be held.
However an SNP councillor, Frank Ross, the council’s economic development leader, has also ageed to serve on the interim management group to steer the organisation through the next few months.
Ms Bird quit in the middle of last month following months of criticism about the running of the agency and a decision to press ahead with a launch of the £300,000 campaign, despite the opposition from the council, led by its deputy leader, Steve Cardownie. He later denied taking part in kind of whispering campaign against her.
She is said to have taken the decision to resign herself and is not thought to have received any pay-off.
The move dismayed the board of Marketing Edinburgh, which had hired her only 18 months previously to run the independent body.
At the height of the dispute between Marketing Edinburgh and the council, the creative director of the Leith Agency, which had been brought in to generate ideas for the campaign, was suspended from his job after mounting a number of attacks on Cllr Cardownie on his twitter page.
Mr Robertson said: “Marketing Edinburgh and its work - which holds tremendous value to the city has to remain on-track whilst the search for a new chief executive is planned.
“By lending our experience and support to Sue and Alan’s very capable management, we hope that progress made by Marketing Edinburgh so far gains momentum, fulfilling the aspirations of both its public and private sector partners.”
Alan Johnston, chair of Marketing Edinburgh’s board said: “I’m thankful that our stakeholders - both public and private - are committing time and resource to support Marketing Edinburgh at this time.
“With their assistance we can ensure that the organisation continues to deliver and take it to the next stage of its development.”
Cllr Ross said: “The council continues to work closely with Marketing Edinburgh to promote the city and attract jobs and investment to the capital. We fully support the appointment of the group, which will provide valuable short-term support to the organisation.”
Sue Stuart had previously run the Edinburgh Convention Bureau for 20 years before it was merged with the city’s film locations agency when Marketing Edinburgh was set up. Mr Gisbon’s most previous job was as head of marketing for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.