Ideas have the possibility to create change.

And in some cases, great ideas begin in small packages. This was certainly the case for Legends, VisitScotland’s first, & quite possibly an industry first, social media campaign specifically for the business events market that launched on the 6th November 2017. But everything started a little smaller.

In August 2016, the team sat down to discuss a variety of things, from IMEX America that was looming just a few months away, to the continued management of the VisitScotland Conference Bid Fund. It was also the first time the full Associations & Sectors team had got together following some very exciting new additions.

On the agenda was a question we had received at a previous meeting with Scotland’s convention bureaus and international conference centres, ‘What is the strapline when we go out to sell Scotland, that initial hook?’  After much discussion bouncing ideas around and several cups of coffee, the word ‘Legend’ was put on the table.

In Scotland, we are surrounded by Legends, from the Kelpies to Nessie and they are rightly one of the many reasons we welcome millions of visitors to the country every year. But is it appropriate for Business Events? Absolutely.

Taken in a contemporary context, the word ‘legend’ is being used to describe famous people, achievements, and ideas. When you combine that word with Scotland and put the whole phrase on a picture of a highly sophisticated robot, we may just get people’s eyebrows raised, we may get people becoming inquisitive and asking questions.

It’s not the normal combination, but that’s the point. We want to turn legends on its head and for business events, get Scotland renowned for its incredible achievements in innovation, invention and research that have happened, are happening and will happen.

From an idea to a campaign

From a simple tag line, the idea snowballed. It couldn’t stop with ‘Scotland, where ideas become Legend,’ it was (in our humble opinion) too good. It quickly grew to a proposal to be a new digital campaign, VisitScotland’s first for Business Events.

In January 2017 we attended PCMA Convening Leaders in Austin, an incredible event that oozes inspiration. One speaker came up with a fateful phrase that made the planets align, created the Legends we now know and locked my team into a campaign that won’t end till October 2019, ‘We are stronger together by collaborating together.’

After an exhausting, but fascinating week at PCMA, I subjected Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Events to a hastily compiled presentation in Austin International Airport as we waited for our flight home, getting the green light before the final call was announced. Legends was a go, but so much more work had to be done.

A voice for all of Scotland

We wanted Legends to be a voice for all of Scotland and put together a plan to showcase 12 of Scotland’s most important and exciting sectors that also had great Business Events potential for the whole country using twitter and LinkedIn. We would create a 24 month campaign, giving each sector 2 months of airtime and the ability to give our cities and regions dedicated weeks to showcase the expertise going on in their areas. We presented to all of our convention bureaus of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, workshops in Inverness, Fife, Stirling, Perth and the previously mentioned cities to get full buy in.

We thought it may be challenging, but we thought wrong. We had universal support, almost excitement. The community in Scotland has backed Legends from the beginning and it has been incredible to see the work that the whole country has done and is still doing to make Legends a success. It is a testament to the Business Events communities’ ‘Team Scotland’ way of thinking.

Why Legends?

For many of the events we want to attract to Scotland, especially international associations, we must first and foremost showcase our credentials in the sectors they operate in, be it technology, life sciences, renewable energy and everything in between. Many of these events need local ambassadors and engagement with universities and industry in order for a destination to be suitable.

By pushing Scotland’s achievements out to an international audience of associations and corporates, we’re putting Scotland front of mind in academic and corporate excellence. Is Legends just for the association market? Absolutely not.

For example, if you want to attract an Airbus meeting to Scotland, what better way to start than making the connection that Aerosystems in Ayrshire build wing parts for the plane maker for their A380, A350 and single-aisle fleet? Legends is for all markets connected to Business Events, regardless of how big or small.

Will it Work?

The big money question. Scotland has never done anything like this before for Business Events and as far as we can tell, they is no similar campaign out there with country wide collaboration that will be engaging universities, industries, academics, entrepreneurs, innovation hubs and research centres across Scotland.

We’re in new territory. We’re creating videos and blogs to cover all the sectors of the campaign and so Scotland’s the cities and regions. So far, we’ve had exceptional engagement from the likes of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, The Data Lab, pureLIFI, ScotlandIS and our launch partner, Technology Scotland.

We’ve had organisations reach out to us organically to ask to join the campaign and the branding has been used in bids for future events. During our launch event #ideasbecomelegend was in the top 10 of trending hashtags in the UK and since then, it’s not just been the industry liking and sharing the content, it’s been influencers, innovation hubs and universities. We are only at the beginning, but we are hopeful that ‘Scotland, where ideas become legend,’ will become a legend within its own right.

Scotland has for centuries produced innovation, ideas and pioneers that have helped shape the modern world will and will continue to do so for centuries to come. Business Events are instrumental in creating platforms where pioneers can come together to create these innovations and ideas. Where better to discover the next idea that will change the world? Scotland. Where ideas become Legend.

Rory Archibald
Associations & Sectors, VisitScotland Business Events