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Setting the stage: How VisitScotland is pushing the live aspect of its global 'Spirit of Scotland' campaign


By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

May 17, 2016 | 5 min read

As The Drum launches its ninth annual Scottish Event awards, we catch up with EventScotland's director of events, Paul Bush, who is sitting on this year's judging panel about how VisitScotland is integrating its fresh global positioning into the events it hosts.

VisitScotland 'Spirit'

Just a few months ago, VisitScotland launched a global campaign to showcase Scotland's distinctive 'spirit'.

Comprising 17 films shot to highlight the country's natural beauty, architecture and the unique people that live in it, the brand's 'Spirit of Scotland' push sought to capture the imaginations of domestic and international audiences.

Now, VisitScotland is looking to weave this single creative positioning, which was conceived following a bout of in-dept research into people's perceptions of the country, into the events it hosts.

To mark the launch of The Drum's Scottish Event Awards, which aim to reward the creative events sector north of the border, The Drum spoke with tourism agency EventScotland's director of events and judge, Paul Bush, about the campaign.

Audience participation

Bush said VisitScotland's study had identified that the 'spirit' of Scotland is composed of seven elements; warmth, humour, guts, soul, determination, fun and spark.

Over the past few years, Scotland has played host to a number of high profile events – from the 2014 Commonwealth Games to the Mobo Awards and even the MTV EMAs - and Bush noted that each of the qualities above are "displayed in abundance," during these celebrations.

"So, we are encouraging our events and the events industry to engage with the campaign through social media in order to show the world how they embody the ‘Spirit of Scotland’," he added.

This means that at events such as the Edinburgh Fringe, or the forthcoming 2018 European Championships which are set to be held in Scotland, a social push could ask users to post content around themes like humour and determination.

"This will allow events in Scotland to harness the power of our global media campaign and we are keen to work with event organisers to explore their ideas of how best to present the ‘Spirit of Scotland’ at their event," asserted Bush.

Generating 'buzz'

Named as Commonwealth Games Scotland chairman in 2015, Bush helped deliver the event in Glasgow, something he described as an "incredibly exciting time" for everyone involved.

The European Championships will mark another significant sporting coup for EventScotland. Bush said that the organisation will be working in tandem with the Glasgow 2018 European Championships team, the Scottish government, local authorities and sporting federations to deliver "a fully integrated and comprehensive PR and marketing plan".

Bush believes that as this is the inaugural staging that there will naturally be great interest in it at home and abroad.

"We expect this to generate tremendous social and traditional media ‘buzz’, similar to the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships; an event that really captured the public’s imagination," he noted.

2015 World Gymnastics Championships

Commitment to music and arts

Sport isn't all that's on the agenda. Bush has promised to deliver "a varied event portfolio" across sport and culture.

For the fourth time VisitScotland is supporting the Mobo Awards in Glasgow this year, while in 2015 it hosted the Turner Prize and the year before that the city was selected by media giant Viacom for the MTV EMAs; "so there is a clear commitment to music and the arts," advised Bush.

The director was keen to point out the cultural events the body supports, which he says are "of vital importance to small communities".

"Looking ahead, we are particularly interested in how we can engage elderly and youthful demographics in events and think that concentrating in these areas is going to present some interesting propositions in the years to come."

On what lies ahead for the event industry in Scotland, he said: "We are now viewed not only as a safe pair of hands in a time of uncertainty by rights holders and major event properties, but also as a dynamic and boundary-pushing event host."

​The Scottish Event Awards will take place on Wednesday 5 October, the entry deadline is Friday 20 May. To find out more visit the dedicated website.

The awards are sponsored by EventScotland, Tint, 21CC and Your Event Scotland.

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