CAMPAIGNS: TOURISM; Reaping benefits from the kilt cult

Client: Scottish Tourist Board Team: In-house Campaign: Exploitation of ‘kilt’ movies. Timescale: Autumn 1994 onwards. Cost: pounds 250,000 per year plus additional trade, local and national tourist board support.

Client: Scottish Tourist Board

Team: In-house

Campaign: Exploitation of ‘kilt’ movies.

Timescale: Autumn 1994 onwards.

Cost: pounds 250,000 per year plus additional trade, local and national

tourist board support.



An overhaul of the Scottish Tourist Board’s marketing activity in 1994

led to a reappraisal of its PR activity and a decision by the STB to

double its spend on press visits and establish a dedicated two-strong

specialist press visits unit.



The decision to push ahead with the new PR unit in Inverness coincided

with a crop of ‘kilt’ films, kicking off with the European premiere in

Edinburgh of Rob Roy in spring 1995, the autumn premiere of Mel Gibson’s

Braveheart in Stirling and most recently the world premiere in Inverness

of Loch Ness on 3 February 1996.



In its first full year of operation, therefore, the unit faced both the

challenge and the opportunity of leveraging Hollywood movie marketing

spends to present Scotland as a holiday destination.



Objectives



The narrow aim of the unit has been to increase the numbers of

journalists attracted to its press visits programme from the beginning

of 1995 and again in 1996. The broader aim has been to quantify the

boost to editorial coverage in a bid to justify the increased commitment

to PR spend as part of the marketing mix.



Tactics



According to press visits manager Caroline Keith, around a quarter of

the visits laid on by the STB last year piggy-backed on the Rob Roy and

Braveheart film releases.



The 1995 press visitor programme was supplemented by Rob Roy themed

trips and visits to the haunts of William Wallace, played by Mel Gibson

in Braveheart. The STB also appointed American travel PR Lou Hammond

Associates to tie in a North American promotional campaign.



To coincide with the Inverness premiere of Loch Ness, last month the STB

arranged for a small number of visits by travel writers with themed

tours planned later this year.



Results



The American campaign which piggy-backed on the studio-funded publicity

surrounding the release of Rob Roy netted the STB and Lou Hammond the

American travel industry Gold Bell award. The film-themed visits helped

the STB exceed its own target of handling just over 500 journalists

visits from the UK and abroad during 1995. But Graham Birse, director of

PR at the STB, believes that the ability to entertain more journalists

does not necessarily result in increased coverage. ‘Competition for

journalists is stiff as they have the choice of holiday destinations

around the world,’ he adds.



Evaluation of coverage generated by press visits to the unit during 1994

suggests that an equivalent to around pounds 7.5 million of advertising

was achieved - according to an evaluation formula worked out by the

STB’s auditor, Price Waterhouse which included anticipated coverage.

Although according to Birse the measurement of anticipated coverage has

actually proved to be conservative. The value of press coverage achieved

in the first nine months of the 1995/6 financial year was pounds 14.5

million, well up on Birse’s target of pounds 11.8 million for the whole

year.



Verdict



In simple press visit numbers and volume of coverage, PR activity is

clearly moving in the right direction. Birse accepts that using

advertising equivalence figures is an inexact science, and measuring the

real bottom line - increases in visitor figures prompted by PR - is more

difficult. And his target of achieving pounds 12.1 million of publicity

in 1996/7, according to the established formula, looks tough.



Given that the latest wave of ‘kilt’ movies is coming to an end. the

question now is whether the unit can keep the momentum going in the

right direction. That remains, along with the issue of the existence of

the Loch Ness monster, an open question.



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