Scotland’s ‘Year of Homecoming 2014’ Promotional Campaign

Homecoming Scotland

Loch Torridon, West Highlands, Scotland

Guest Article by Kenneth Wardrop

Long established destinations, like other mature global brands, face the constant challenge of maintaining market positioning and profile with consumers against the backdrop of new market entrants or emerging destinations. Scottish tourism has witnessed a €573 million drop in visitor spend over the last decade, and the country is facing a very challenging market situation.  In response Scotland has sought to address this by instigating new promotional initiatives and by tapping in to a strong ‘warm market segment’, pre disposed to visiting Scotland, in the shape of the Scottish diaspora (people of Scottish decent who live a round the world) utilising a series of thematic years under the umbrella branding of ‘Homecoming Scotland’ and promoted by the national tourism organisation VisitScotland

Scotland has a small population of only 5 million people yet worldwide it is estimated that there are up to 40 million people who are of Scottish descent (the Scottish diaspora), many of whom have a strong affinity with the ‘old country’. In America there are nearly 5 million ‘Scots – Americans’ (1.7% of the US population), while in Canada the ‘Scots-Canadians’ make up the third largest ethnic group, and are again a group of nearly 5 million people. The Scottish diaspora therefore represent a logical target market segment’ for Scotland. While interestingly Scotland’s largest visitor market remains the countries near neighbours in England.

In May 2010 the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond MSP announced Scottish Government support for a repeat in 2014 of a ‘Year of Homecoming’  targeted at the Scots diaspora, and a repeat of the first ‘Year of Homecoming’ which took place for the first time in 2009. In 2014 Scotland will host the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup (the World Cup of Golf), and mark the 700th anniversary of the  Battle of Bannockburn (an historical event  which as part of the Wars of Independence secured Scotland’s nationhood). In addition in 2014 there will be special elements to annual signature events such as Edinburgh’s summer festivals, St Andrew’s Day, and the country’s Hogmanay (New Years) celebrations.

At the same time the Scottish Government announced four intervening thematic years building up to 2014: Food & Drink (2010),  Year of Active Scotland (2011), Creative Scotland (2012), and Natural Scotland (2013), and an additional overarching theme running through 2010 to 2014 of ancestary.   The marketing campaign also has the potential to be used for the wider place marketing of Scotland as a place in which to invest in or relocate to, as Scotland aims to draw new talent to live, work and study in the country. Scotland already has a well established network of  ‘Global Scots’  a network of business people who are expatriate Scots or who have an affinity with Scotland.

The announcement of a second ‘Year of Homecoming’ by the Scottish Government  coincided with the presentation of the Economic Impact Assessment of Homecoming 2009, which indicated that the events and promotional activity in 2009 generated €61.54m in additional tourism revenue for Scotland (exceeding the €50.42m target), generated an additional 95,000 visitors to Scotland, and resulted in €166m of positive media coverage.  The €62m additional revenue generated by Homecoming 2009 should however be viewed in the context of the €573m gap in visitor spend.   A major element of the campaign was a TV and cinema advert called ‘Caledonia’  In 2009 it is estimated that there was a total spend of €9.75m on the events programme and associated marketing campaigns.

This  campaign was running in 2008/ 2009 at the  in the height of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and many countries were envious of Scotland’s strong marketing campaign in that year. It potentially mitigated against some of the more severe impacts of the impacts for Scotland of the GFC on the visitor economy at this time.

The Scottish Government’s objectives for the new  “Homecoming – Scotland welcomes the world in 2014

events programme  and promotional campaign include:

  • the generation of additional tourism revenue through profile raising in strategic target markets;
  • development of Scotland’s event portfolio;
  • building capacity in the tourism sector;
  • engagement with and mobilisation of communities across Scotland;
  • and engagement with and mobilisation of Scottish businesses.

The events programme is being co-ordinated by the national agency EventScotland

Challenges facing the campaign planners and collaborative partners who are participating in staging events and marketing under the banner of the ‘Homecoming Scotland’ theme are:

  • clarity on the key target markets (to assist in the alignment of marketing activity and the shaping of events to target audience);
  • based on experience of the ‘Year of Homecoming 2009’ how best  to manage quality control of the ‘Homecoming’ brand;
  • how to project  a contemporary image of Scotland’s 21st century assets while building on the wealth of iconic Scottish images and associations such as tartan, whisky, golf and beautiful scenery (an image of the ‘old country’ often held dear by the diaspora but unrepresentative of 21st Century Scotland).

For more information:

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