New £1m ad campaigns aims to boost Edinburgh's city centre

It is the campaign that could help secure the future of Edinburgh's main historic shopping thoroughfares '“ as well as hundreds of thousands of new visitors to the city centre outwith the summer and winter peaks.

A new campaign from Essential Edinburgh will launch on Monday (8 th October), encouraging Edinburgh locals to re-discover all that is on offer in the capital's vibrant and varied city centre.

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.

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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 much longer at the city centre. The key premise is to challenge people who have not been into the city centre for a while by saying to them: ‘This is what you’re missing.’

“It’s about making people think about coming into the city for two or three different things, which you cannot do anywhere else.”

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.”