How NOT to get ahead in advertising: Spend £1m on a logo that flops then scrap it

EVERYONE has their favourite. From British Airways' "ethnic" tail fins and the Post Office changing its name to Consignia, to New Coke and the ditching of Captain Birds Eye, the list is long and less than illustrious.

Now Edinburgh's "Inspiring Capital" slogan, logo and brand is set to be shelved within months - less than three years after it was unveiled. Shortage of political support on the new city council, concerns about the lack of impact the image has had and problems with funding are threatening its future.

A London-based agency, Interbrand, was brought in to create the image, at a cost of 800,000, and a further 120,000 has been ploughed into the project since its unveiling in May 2005.

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Senior councillors have questioned the amount spent on it and have admitted it may fall victim to budget pressures early next year.

A major review of the brand project has been ordered by the Lib Dem-SNP administration on the council amid concerns that it has been a waste of money and has failed to drum up enough support in the city.

Senior council sources say the project may be wound up by the spring unless firm evidence can been produced of the brand's impact.

Funding for the four staff employed by the council to promote the brand runs out at the end of the financial year. The project has been funded via the previous Scottish Executive's cities growth fund, which has been axed by the SNP government at Holyrood.

Councils have been promised the funding will not be lost, but it may be ring-fenced for capital projects.

One insider said: "Serious questions are being asked about exactly what the Inspiring Capital brand has achieved, how much awareness there is of it in the city and further afield and whether there is a real need for it. The new council has obviously inherited the logo, the slogan and the whole project.

"No-one is talking about creating a new image or logo, but the council could certainly halt any further investment to promote it, and the logo could well be quietly buried before long."

One senior Lib Dem councillor said: "With school closures likely to be on the agenda next year, overspends in the budgets of a number of council departments, and huge demands for investment in facilities like the Commonwealth Pool and the King's Theatre, it's not surprising that questions are being asked about this brand."

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Edinburgh's first attempt at a major makeover was the "Count Me In" campaign in the 1980s - the capital's response to the success of the "Glasgow's Miles Better" campaign.

In the mid-1990s 400,000 was spent on a new corporate image for the city, but it was criticised for featuring a V-sign. The turn of the century saw the council and Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Board join forces to create "Eventful Ed", a cartoon character who headed a 200,000 advertising campaign.

Around 18 months of research went into the launch of Edinburgh's brand. The logo is said to represent the city's "sense of energy" as well as famous images like the Forth Bridge, the Festival fireworks and Arthur's Seat. The brand is aimed at persuading people to visit, live, work and study in the city.

The four-strong brand team, who work at the city council's headquarters, are responsible for persuading outside bodies and organisations to adopt the brand, as well as promoting its use at festivals and events.

Although not directly responsible for major marketing campaigns and initiatives, they work with the likes of VisitScotland, EventScotland and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce to try to ensure it features prominently wherever possible.

However, there is little or no evidence of the brand at major thoroughfares heading into the capital, or the city's railway stations. It is also conspicuous by its absence on the websites of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh University, the National Galleries of Scotland or Edinburgh Zoo.

The Inspiring Capital campaign was the inspiration for a 100,000 sculpture taking pride of place outside the city council's new headquarters.

However, the Joe Public work of art, by German artist Stephan Balkenhol, has already been disowned by Steve Cardownie, deputy leader of the new council, who described him as "looking like a window cleaner who has dropped his ladder". Mr Cardownie declined to comment on the future of the Inspiring Capital brand.

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However, fellow SNP councillor, Tom Buchanan, the city's economic development leader, said: "The brand project isn't funded after March, but that applies to a number of other initiatives and projects. It's no more or no less at threat than anything else as far as I'm concerned."

Council leader Jenny Dawe said: "We have asked for a review of the project. I have to say I do know a bit more about it now than I did a few months ago, but the problem is it's been difficult to quantify the impact that it has had.

"We do hear an awful lot about how successful it has been so far but all we have done is asked for evidence."

Ewan Aitken, Labour group leader on the council, said: "I think the brand has done OK but there's not been the buy-in that we'd have hoped for. From what I hear the new council administration is not persuaded about it all."

The marketing icons and costly blunders which looked like good ideas at the time

CHANGING Consignia's name was said to have cost 2 million, with the rebranding back to the Royal Mail Group costing a further 1 million.

British Airways' infamous experiment with ethnic art on its tailfins instead of the Union Jack was said to have cost the company at least 60 million.

• Coca-Cola famously relaunched as New Coke in 1985, but reverted to the original taste and design just 79 days later.

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• One of the worst-received logos of recent years was that created for the London Olympics in 2012.

• Birds Eye ditched the iconic white-bearded captain used on packaging for a younger, better-looking captain in 1998, but the traditional image was brought back in 2000.

• Prestwick Airport adopted "pure dead brilliant" - the famous catchphrase of Rab C Nesbitt's wife Mary Doll - as its official logo after a 3 million refurbishment. It was not well received.

• The best-known city slogan is probably New York's "I Love NY" with its loveheart symbol.

• Barcelona created a new image for the staging of the Olympic Games in 1990, which triggered a huge rise in visitors to the city. Other more recent city rebrandings have included Toronto Unlimited and Uniquely Singapore.

• Around 4 million has been spent to date promoting Glasgow as "Scotland With Style", but tourism experts in the city believe it has generated 62 million in economic benefit, and more than 500,000 additional visitors. However, much of the credit for the city's renaissance is still given to the Glasgow's Miles Better campaign from the early 1980s.

• Scotland's unofficial national drink - Irn-Bru - has been able to fend off competition over the years thanks to a series of cheeky and humorous advertising campaigns.

• In 2002, the consulting arm of accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers spent 70 million on changing its name to the inexplicable Monday, causing general bemusement.


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GRAHAM Hankinson, a researcher at the International Institute for Culture, Tourism and Development at London Metropolitan University, said: "Although I know a lot of Glasgow's Scotland With Style campaign, I have to admit Edinburgh's inspiring capital brand doesn't mean anything to me. I haven't heard of it and I haven't seen the slogan.

"However, there is no doubt Edinburgh's brand is extremely well known all over the world. The city doesn't need any slogans or logos, it just has to work harder at selling itself and its product around the world. It regularly scores very highly compared to other cities on its facilities, its architecture, its hotels and its restaurants.

"In Glasgow, the city felt it had a need to create a new image around five years ago, following the success of staging the Garden Festival there and its year as European City of Culture."

Ian McAteer, managing director of Edinburgh-based advertising agency The Union, said: "There's a huge difference between a brand and a logo, and people do often get the two confused.

"Edinburgh already has a hugely successful brand around the world and you could argue that it has never been stronger. It really is questionable whether the city needed any kind of image, slogan or logo.

"The inspiring capital image does not have any real impact on me at all."