Stirring our sense of civic pride

The launch of the 'This is Edinburgh' campaign on Victoria Street. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
The launch of the 'This is Edinburgh' campaign on Victoria Street. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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The best way to woo locals back to Edinburgh city centre is show them – without any gimmickry – everything they’re missing, writes John Donnelly

LAST week, Edinburgh got its very first city campaign for the people who live and work in and around Scotland’s capital – and the response so far to “This is Edinburgh”, I’m delighted to say, has been overall extremely positive from both business and the public.

“This is Edinburgh” has a very clear objective – to encourage people who live up to a two-hour commute away back into the city centre and to get them to stay longer. As part of this, we have placed a particular emphasis on those who live here, who might have got out of the habit of coming to the city centre and yet who would not themselves be the target market for a campaign aimed at tourists.

In my opinion, and that of many others, Edinburgh is the most beautiful city in the world. The residents, however, realise that relying on beauty simply isn’t good enough in order to market our capital. Instead, we’ve set out to get under the skin of Edinburgh and show it as it really is; its hidden gems, wide appeal, nightlife, shopping and attractions. Let the city speak for itself and no gimmicks allowed.

Much of the creative imput for the campaign was directly inspired by conversations we had with residents and city centre-based businesses. Alongside the new TV adverts and billboards, “This is Edinburgh” is going to be giving people plenty of reasons to come into the city centre, particularly in the quieter summer-shoulder months. Introducing food, fashion, film and beauty events, as well as special weekends of offers exclusively for EH residents, there is also a new website, packed with event listings and a new social hub. All of this is purposely designed to entice locals to get out and rediscover their city.

Of course, we’ll be tracking the success of the campaign closely and encouraging the target audience to interact with it. Social media will be an important tool in motivating folk to come back to the city centre, to stay longer and have fun. If you haven’t already, tell us via Facebook or Twitter what #thisisedinburgh means to you. Early indications show that, as we’d hoped, this type of engagement is stimulating a revitalised sense of pride in our great city.

This type of response is absolutely key, not just from the public but also from businesses. This campaign is showing extraordinary levels of public- private partnership, being jointly funded by ourselves, Essential Edinburgh business improvement district and the City of Edinburgh Council, who along with input from lots of city partners are working together to boost the economic development of the capital.

Those businesses who have contributed significantly through their levy to Essential Edinburgh recognised the importance of collaboration, of finding strength in the sum of our parts instead of working individually.

It’s this type of approach that will benefit Scotland’s capital. But we must do it better and bigger – how do we successfully engage those corporations that have a vested interest in the bright future of the city?

It’s a business model and financial aspiration that Marketing Edinburgh plans to further develop over the next three years. At the end of 2013, Marketing Edinburgh introduced its first corporate partnership programme. This is a bid to encourage what I like to call our “corporate citizens” to get behind Edinburgh, not simply financially, but to 
engage their resources and expertise and become a fully integrated member of our community.

It makes good business sense too. Success looks like a talented workforce, attracted to work in this terrific city and enjoying life – making the most of its restaurants, bars, shops and attractions. Everyone benefits.

So, coming back to the campaign, it’s a case of so far, so good. However, the launch of “This is Edinburgh” is only the start of the story.

If I could ask you to take away one thing from this campaign, it would be this: yes, let’s come together and celebrate Scotland’s capital – but let’s not stop there.

Let’s continue to build upon our plans for economic return, developing exciting, achievable and sustainable structures that will deliver an as yet unseen level of public-private partnership and a great deal of benefit.

John Donnelly is chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh. Go to

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