By Martin Couper
A-LIST celebrities including Billy Connolly and The Scissor Sisters will be appearing in television ads due to air this week to promote Scotland to Londoners.
The ads are part of a £1.5 million campaign launched this month to entice UK visitors to the country during the autumn.
They will see the celebs – that also include singer Sharleen Spiteri – either attend or take part in events throughout the country including the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow or the Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh.
This latest push for increased tourism comes as the Scottish Tourist Board builds towards Homecoming Scotland 2009 – a year long celebration of Scots culture, heritage and our contributions to the world.
The ads will be aired on ITV, Channel Four and Channel Five as well as a number of satellite channels during prime-time slots.
Bosses at VisitScotland want to reach over 36 million viewers with the campaign that will also see 25 massive outdoor posters around main arterial routes in London encouraging consumers to “celebrate Scotland.”
The majority of Scotland’s visitors already come from within the UK It is hoped that holiday-makers who have been unable to travel abroad because of the credit crunch will now make the journey north of the Border instead.
Philip Riddle, VisitScotland’s chief executive, said: “Scotland has a fantastic range of events, and it is important we look to our strengths during this period of economic uncertainty.
“VisitScotland has a clear and consistent marketing strategy but we have the ability to change our tactics to react to any situation and this is exactly what we have done by targeting UK consumers with this campaign.
“It is particularly relevant to promote our events as we are building towards Homecoming Scotland 2009, which will see 100 superb events taking place across the country.”
The London Underground is also set for A Scottish PR offensive with the use of a pioneering new digital cross track advertising in over 30 stations.
VisitScotland have hailed the new advertising system, believing it is sure to make an impact on Underground users.
Philip Riddle said: “The new digital cross track advertising will be a great way to get London commuters thinking about Scotland. Because it is new, it is sure to catch people’s eye and make a real impact.
“We are the first national tourism organisation to use this type of promotion and along with a month of TV advertising across the UK and other poster advertising in London we hope that we can encourage more people to book a trip to Scotland this autumn.”
The Scottish Government have backed the promotion campaign in London but claim they are also focussed on promoting Scotland as a global brand, as well as domestically
Jim Mather, minister for tourism said: “UK visitors are a key target market as we seek to attract more people to our wonderful country. From our stunning scenery to our compelling history, diverse culture, and friendly people, we have a fantastic tourism product.
“This campaign will be an important tool in our efforts to show the world exactly what Scotland has to offer. It will also be an opportunity to extend an invitation to visitors to join us in our celebration for the year of Homecoming in 2009.”