Comment: Marketing leaders to debate independence

People gather on Edinburgh's Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Festival. Picture: Alex Hewitt/Camera Obscura
People gather on Edinburgh's Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Festival. Picture: Alex Hewitt/Camera Obscura
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ORGANISATIONS have duty to outline their vision, says Graeme Atha

Amplify is the name of the programme of events The Marketing Society has planned during the Edinburgh Festival. This theme was chosen to promote the value of marketing during the biggest creative and cultural festival in the world.

At the heart of really effective marketing campaigns there is usually a creative idea based on new, insightful and original thinking. Big creative ideas are often the result of being stimulated by a diverse range of inputs.

The Edinburgh Festival represents the perfect opportunity to embrace stimulus and diversity so it is the perfect context for a marketing festival.

The Amplify marketing festival will cover some of the key issues and opportunities facing our industry.

We start with a Referendum Marketing Question Time where a panel of business leaders and senior marketing professionals will debate the potential impact of independence to business in general and marketing specifically.

With only a few weeks to go before the big day we believe organisations have a responsibility to outline their position to their stakeholders, staff and customers.

Gerry O’Donnell, head of corporate affairs at spirits company Edrington will chair the debate and the panel includes Andrew Wilson of Charlotte Street Partners, Hugh Burkitt, CEO of The Marketing Society, Ghill Donald of BD Network, Ian Ferguson-Brown of Brandband, Ruth McKay of UNIQ Marketing and Colin Pyle of YES Scotland.

This session has been developed in partnership with the Advertising Association which promotes the role of advertising and its impact on individuals, the economy and society.

In the afternoon we will focus on big ideas and a World Cup-style knock-out competition to decide the best marketing idea in the world.

Award-winning campaigns have been selected from a range of countries including Brazil, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, US and England. The campaigns will be judged on the basis of how inspiring the central idea was as well as the effectiveness of the campaign.

The campaigns being judged come from a wide range of organisations from Organ Donation in Brazil and the SPCA in New Zealand to Coke in Peru and McDonald’s in the US. A British Airways campaign will represent England.

All the campaigns are based on a very simple and creative concept leading to impressive results.

Our Ogilvy Lecture is named as a tribute to David Ogilvy, a proud and passionate Scot who was educated in Edinburgh and went on to open Ogilvy & Mather Advertising in New York in the 1950s which he then helped develop into one of the biggest and best-known advertising networks in the world.

It was David who first coined the expression “the big idea” in advertising and his books on marketing still inspire academics, students and practitioners. 
The David Ogilvy era on Madison Avenue is now celebrated in the hit TV show Mad Men.

This year Benny Higgins, the CEO of Edinburgh-based Tesco Bank, will deliver the Ogilvy Lecture. Benny is one of the more colourful characters in business and not your typical banker.

The Mad Men Drinks Reception at the Assembly Club Bar at the end of the day is a chance to mix with the movers and shakers in the marketing and creative industries over a cocktail or two – Don Draper-style.

The Amplify Marketing Festival will take place tomorrow at the University of Edinburgh Business School and Assembly Club Bar on George Square.

Full details are on and tickets are available by emailing or calling Lux Events on 0131 466 7199.

• Graeme Atha is a director of The Marketing Society

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