Marketing Edinburgh restructure taps into broader industry talent

Marketing Edinburgh, the official city agency responsible for promoting the Scottish capital to the world, has announced four new non-executive board members as part of a major shake up of the agency.

The new board has been infused with new leaders with a proven track record in business and is tasked with shaping a new direction global positioning for Edinburgh.

Despite a record-breaking year for Marketing Edinburgh, a big change has been implemented, bringing in the four non-executive board members from a range of marketing, finance and corporate backgrounds to inject some new blood into the organisation. They have had, between them, careers spanning organisations as diverse as Cadbury’s, Unilever, Standard Life, Wood Mackenzie and RBS. The agency says it has created “a leaner, more agile team, armed with the right skill-set to take Edinburgh forward and respond to key outcomes from the 2050 City Vision”.

The appointments include award-winning marketer Claire Harrison-Church, who brings 30 years of experience working with likes of Unilever, Sainsbury’s and most recently ASDA. Her award-winning campaign for Boots, ‘Here Come the Girls’, was widely considered to be one of the most iconic campaigns in the company’s history.

New Zealander, Paul Rowllings (pictured), based in Edinburgh for the last 20 years, has built a career in global marketing and revenue growth, working with international gas and oil consultancy, Wood Mackenzie and Aegon insurance. With a track record in company expansion and building global brand reputations, Rowllings’ most recent focus has been on business development and investment in a number of Scottish start-ups.

Having started her career in marketing at Cadbury and Kraft Foods, Sandra Blake moved to Edinburgh 12 years ago, to take on a range of marketing and strategy roles at The Royal Bank of Scotland. She moved to Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) in January 2015 as head of talent and development.

While Stephen Ingledew brings decades of experience in transformational leadership and marketing from the world of finance; working with AMP, Barclays Wealth and most recently nine years with Standard Life since 2007, he was MD customers and marketing.

The fifth non-executive, Dr Gordon Rintoul CBE, director of the National Museum of Scotland, sat on the original Marketing Edinburgh board, and will continue his role to aid the transition of the new team.

The non-executives will join three City of Edinburgh Councillors, Lord Provost Frank Ross, Jo Mowat and Gordon Munro, alongside an Observer on the board. Marketing Edinburgh’s chief executive, John Donnelly and chair Gordon Robertson, director of communications at Edinburgh Airport will also continue their roles.

Over 40 candidates applied for the four non-remunerated, non-executive posts involved with the promotion of the city. The new board members will be actively supporting Marketing Edinburgh in its partner collaboration, with the first task to create a three to five-year strategic plan that will echo the timing of the City Vision.

2016/17 saw Marketing Edinburgh generate revenue growth to a record level of £1.98m.

Robertson commented: “It’s rare for an organisation to be recruiting four non-executive appointments simultaneously and I would like to thank Scott Black and the team at FWB Park Brown for their hard work in finding our talented new board appointees. Ensuring we secured the right blend of personalities as well as complementary skill-sets was a huge priority and critical to Marketing Edinburgh’s ongoing success as it moves to the next level.”

Blake said: “Edinburgh competes on a global stage; I feel it needs ambition and a city brand to match. A potential challenge is complacency, thinking Edinburgh can market itself to the world and the opportunity cost of not investing in the long-term success of the city. Collaboration between the public and private sectors, learning from outside the UK and securing funding to do Edinburgh justice, versus other big city brands, will be key. The 2050 City Vision initiative is a unique opportunity for everyone to have their say and for us to create a strong and sustainable city brand. I am delighted to be able to give something back to a city I love.”

A new Marketing Edinburgh advisory committee of around 20 stakeholders and influencers from Edinburgh’s business, tourism and education sectors will be appointed in September.

Working in conjunction with their partners, over the last 12 months Convention Edinburgh has secured conferences worth £85m for the city. Alongside membership revenue growth, the Conference Accommodation Booking service, also reported a strong year, delivering room sales for local accommodation providers, 12% up on target to £1.3m. While filming in the city generated almost £8m in economic impact.

As the City of Edinburgh Council funding has dropped from £1.3m in 2011 to £890K last year, Marketing Edinburgh had to step up to secure new investment from membership and partners, increasing the ratio of private investment of overall revenue from 37% to 53%, generating a record high of £1.1m in private investment for 2016/2017.

The ongoing success of our Corporate Partnership Programme has played a pivotal role in aiding this transition. Set up three years ago from a starting point of zero, last year it generated £500K private investment in marketing campaigns for Edinburgh.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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