Official Guide to Edinburgh

The role of marketing is undervalued and misunderstood – it’s time to change that

An open letter to The City of Edinburgh Council

“We need to cut budgets”. Five little words sure to strike fear in the heart of any marketeer. Because too often our work is top of the chopping pile, leaving us anxiously trying to prove that what we do matters. Trying to persuade those cynics who still view marketing as a tactical rather than strategic activity. Arguing that – when done well - it isn’t something fuzzy, intangible or easily dispensed with, but a driver of real value creation. 

So, spare a thought for Marketing Edinburgh – the body that promotes Scotland’s Capital – who just days ago found out that the city of Edinburgh Council intends to almost immediately remove 64% of its budget from the organisation, rising to 89% in year two. The proposal - if passed - will go live in a little over eight weeks, leaving Edinburgh as the only major city in the developed world without a Destination Marketing Management Organisation.

This is despite Marketing Edinburgh having demonstrated that they return £99 to the local economy for every one pound spent by them. It ignores their central role in the £74M business tourism and £16M film promotion economies. And it undermines the work they do to attract investment from the private sector, which they completely reinvest in city campaigns.

They also run the city’s consumer digital channels, unite city stakeholders, facilitate thousands of conventions, support hundreds of film and TV productions...the list goes on.

But all this seemingly doesn’t matter to the Council, who want to pull the rug with no obvious contingency or regard for the damage that will be done.

Their decision seems to defy reasonable logic, but it should give us all pause for thought, highlighting a common – and growing – problem in our industry. Consumers have a world of choice, cluttered feeds and a rapidly diminishing attention span. In the case of Marketing Edinburgh, visitors can easily fly to countless destinations clambering to be chosen; cities throughout the world have woken up to how lucrative the convention and student markets are; business owners can easily find cheap labour overseas. Never has it been more competitive for those who seek to be noticed.

Which is why we must find a way to get our colleagues and clients to lean in towards marketing when things get difficult, rather than away. What else better cuts through the noise, than great promotion? What else better persuades people – talent, businesses, visitors, events and productions – to notice, to engage and, ultimately, to spend?

It’s simply wrong to think that Edinburgh doesn’t need this type of support; that somehow, the quality of its product means it’s above all that. Afterall, it’s been proven that FTSE companies perform significantly better when they have a marketing-experienced director on their board. Why should a city be any different?

The modern world of marketing demands that - whether you are a place, or a consumer brand - you need to stand out, or stand down…do we really expect the latter from Scotland’s capital? Or any organisation focused on success?

And so we stand together in support of Marketing Edinburgh as they try to crack the industry’s hardest brief; make sure the value of marketing is fully recognised, across boards, across budgets and for the benefit of all.

Signed by:

Always Be Content, Anneli RS, Bright Signals, The Corner Shop, East West, Guy & Co, Hamlin Daniels, The Lane, Punk, Red Facilities, Republic of Media, Storm ID, Studio LR, Union, Tincan, Union Direct, Weber Shandwick, Whitespace, WIRE, Graeme Atha (Marketing Society Scotland), Gavin Bryce (Day Six Films), John Denholm (Denholm Associated), Mick Doran (Sainsbury’s Bank), Mike Donoghue, Richy Lamb (Owned & Operated), Lewis Notarangelo (Immagine Productions) David Reid (Because Brands Matter)