New CEO for Marketing Edinburgh marks fresh chapter

Ex-Glasgow2014 Donnelly to lead city promotion for Scotland’s capital

John Donnelly, one of Scotland’s most accomplished and respected marketeers, has been appointed to lead Marketing Edinburgh as CEO.

Formerly responsible for the successful development of Glasgow 2014’s commercial strategy, John has senior experience managing some of the UK’s biggest agencies, including bd ntwk and The Marketing Store Worldwide. He is now tasked with navigating the promotion body for the next twelve months, accelerating momentum gained since the beginning of 2013 and delivering “outstanding results” for Scotland’s capital.

John’s appointment follows the addition of other experienced members to the team, including Nick Hudson who was named as Head of Marketing, following an illustrious career working with brands such as Heineken and Kellogg’s.  Both join Director of Operations, Sue Stuart who has more than 20 years of experience in business tourism, and continues her responsibility for attracting and facilitating conventions to the city.

Gordon Robertson, Chair of Marketing Edinburgh’s interim management group and Director of Communications for Edinburgh Airport, who helped to select John for the role, said:

“This as a new chapter for Marketing Edinburgh, one that is focused on making sure that the city’s promotion is as cohesive, dynamic and efficient as possible. John’s appointment illustrates the importance we’ve placed on strengthening Marketing Edinburgh’s skillset. There’s been real headway made since the beginning of this year and we needed someone who could take this progress to the next level without delay.

“John is that person. He has a proven track record of turning strategy into demonstrable action and his experience, energy and passion for Edinburgh is very impressive. We are delighted to have him on board. This appointment will allow Marketing Edinburgh to deliver while we commence the search for a permanent CEO.”

Responsible for promoting Edinburgh across a visit, invest, live, work and study remit, Marketing Edinburgh has had a busy year to date. The organisation has helped to attract conferences worth £84.4million of economic benefit to the local economy and supported the development of new air routes to the city, including easyjet’s recent announcement of six new European routes to destinations such as Hamburg and Prague. It has also facilitated film and television productions such as Sunshine on Leith and Case Histories, plus completing an internal restructure, designed to improve efficiency.

John takes the helm of Marketing Edinburgh this week and is clear on his immediate priorities:

“My role is to make sure that Marketing Edinburgh is the hungry, knowledgeable and commercially-focused organisation it needs to be.

“Like others who have joined recently, I understand what the private sector is looking for. I’ve worked with major brands including Coca Cola, Peugeot, and Unilever, not to mention launching the sponsorship, merchandising and ticket-sale strategies for Glasgow 2014. From that experience, I know how important it is to deliver tangible, financial benefit through marketing – and that’s the main message that I’ll bring to the way that Marketing Edinburgh cultivates relationships.

“There have been notable achievements by Marketing Edinburgh in the last couple of years, particularly when it comes to business tourism. My job is to ensure that there are more successes such as these, particularly in the private sector; bigger, better and more often.

“Edinburgh is such a creative city. It’s packed full of seriously impressive agencies and talent. That’s the standard that I’m setting for Marketing Edinburgh. Our work needs to be of the finest quality and really deliver the very best results possible for the city.”

On Incredinburgh, John said: “Everyone has an opinion when it comes to creative work. Incredinburgh was certainly a bold campaign. Of course, there were learnings that Marketing Edinburgh had to take on board but I believe we must not be afraid to give Edinburgh the promotion it deserves; marketing that’s imaginative, clever and, above all else, innovative.”

John has lived in Edinburgh for 21 years and currently resides in the Stockbridge area of the city with his wife and three children.

“I’ve lived in lots of different places but, for me, Edinburgh is – by far – top of the list. This is my home and I love it. Spreading the word about how fantastic this place is, its quality of life, the culture, the sense of history wherever you go, is something I’ve already been doing for years. It’s just that I can now do it in a professional capacity!”

Marketing Edinburgh has recently helped to win three world-class conferences, set to bring a combined economic benefit of £8.2m to Edinburgh. The International Paediatric Endosurgery Group Meeting and Autism Europe will both take place in 2014, whilst the International Congress on Cleft Palate & Related Craniofacial Anomalies will come to the city in June 2021.

It is also working closely with a number of partners, including Essential Edinburgh to develop a city-centre campaign post completion of trams, plus Unique and Underbelly on a consolidated marketing focused on the winter months.

Councillor Frank Ross, Economy convener, said: “This is a strong appointment and very encouraging news for Marketing Edinburgh and the city as a whole. The capital is holding its own against very stiff competition from across the globe but we can never be complacent. Marketing Edinburgh plays a vital role in helping to promote the city as a place to visit or do business in, and the jobs created by tourism and investors are vital for our economy. I look forward to working with John and seeing the benefits of his experience in helping Edinburgh compete in the international marketplace.”


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