Anne McMeekinBy Anne McMeekin, Marketing Officer

As you may have noticed, the Mammoths of the Ice Age are making their way to the National Museum of Scotland this month for our next major exhibition, Mammoths of the Ice Age, created by The Field Museum, Chicago.

Here in the marketing department, work began on the exhibition way back in July 2013. One of the key roles of the marketing team is to come up with a campaign look and feel that can be rolled out across all of our print and digital communications on and off site and finding something that works well in all of these areas is no mean feat!

Not all mammoths were from snowy climes

Not all mammoths were from snowy climes – some lived on islands off the coast of California!

The first step when working on any campaign is to identify the target audience through a combination of research, analysing visitor figures and getting to grips with the key messages within the exhibition. Because Mammoths of the Ice Age is a touring exhibition, we had the additional advantage of knowing who the exhibition had been popular with when it had shown at other museums.

Pygmy mammoths were the size of a horse

Not all mammoths were enormous – pygmy mammoths were the size of a horse!

The exhibition is full of interactives and interpretation for children as well as adults so we knew that attracting families to the exhibition was key. We also knew that we had to create something that was fun and engaging and creative agency Sumo Design’s idea to illustrate unusual or surprising mammoth facts in a playful way was a clear winner – even if you don’t come to the exhibition you can learn some mammoth facts from the posters!

Of course, the exhibition is still to open so we will have to wait and see if the campaign has been a success but it’s been great to see the graphic style and mammoth facts embraced across the organisation, from a furry launch event invite to the exhibition trailer created by the Digital Media team.

Over the coming months you should see our mammoth campaign popping up all over Edinburgh, from newspaper adverts and posters in your local café to banners outside the museum and a mammoth bus called Murdo… Keep your eyes peeled!

Murdo the Mammoth bus

Murdo the Mammoth bus.

Mammoths of the Ice Age ran between 24 January-20 April 2014 at the National Museum of Scotland.

Sarah BarrBy Sarah Barr, Volunteer, Scotland Creates

Our Scotland Creates volunteers are working with curators and other staff from National Museums Scotland to create an exhibition on the theme of Scotland Creates: A Sense of Place.


So we’re trying to fashion ourselves some sort of logo so that when you come and visit our exhibits you’ll know what’s ours.

Logo. Ok. I’m good at drawing. This’ll be easy. It’ll take five minutes. Yes. Scribble scribble.

I came up with Dolly the Sheep’s face placed over the National Museum crossed punctuation marks, looking like a skull and crossbones. We called it the Dolly Roger. I was a proud little potato.

The Dolly Roger

The Dolly Roger.

Then… Oh. Turns out there are guidelines and things we have to follow.

Lots of them. About fonts and colours and use of museum marks and whatnot.


So instead of the Dolly Roger, someone with far more sense than me brought in a clever lady called Eilidh, who also had far more sense than me, from an advertising firm called Frame in Glasgow to have a session with us volunteers about logo design and branding.

Turns out that logos are HARD.

We talked about famous brands and how their logos pop out at us, how simplicity is what we should aim for, and making sure that the logo we come up with really conveys what the heart of the project is all about. So, we grabbed a small forest’s worth of Post-It notes and wrote down words we felt summed up the project and its values, coated a wall with them and gradually whittled them down to a handful of key words.

We then split ourselves up into smaller groups, each group taking a word and trying to come up with some simple, clear images to represent them. The whole group then voted on which images we liked best, which turned out to be:

  • A classic house shape with a heart inside it (representing “Home”, as in, home-is-where-the-heart-is… do you see what we did there? Do you? Do you see?)
  •  A magnifying glass in various guises (representing “Discovery” which we thought was an important part of identity in Edinburgh)
  • Keys, a key, or a keyhole, sometimes dressed up as a thistle (representing a mix of those last two key words. Hah. Key words. Keys. Hah.)

Happy with our ideas for potential motifs, we then had to find a volunteer to put it all together into a logo (Technically, we’re to call it a “visual identity” because the National Museum only has one logo).

Cue some shuffling of feet, and me eventually being stupid and saying “I could give it a go?” or something like that, because I apparently haven’t learned my lesson from my attempt with the Dolly Roger and my brain clearly enjoys torturing me by making me offer to do things I can’t do very well. Huzzah!

So I am working on a handful designs for everyone else to vote on based on the motifs we came up with at the brainstorming session. (I say working; every time I saw my sketchbook and the museum CD called “Identity Guidelines” over the past fortnight I ran away and watched an entire season of Xena:Warrior Princess in the hope that magical little elves will have broken into my flat and done it for me.)

I am so very nearly done though, and will hopefully be done in… ten minutes including procrastinating by writing this blog post. Mostly because I finished Xena. And Game of Thrones. And The X-Files. And somehow haven’t eaten my laptop in a fit of rage at MS Paint and my touchpad, which are as much Adobe Photoshop and a graphics tablet as I am a fairy princess.

And here they are…

Home motifs

‘Home is where the heart is’ motifs.

Key and magnifying glass motifs.

Key and magnifying glass motifs.

A selection of thistle and keyhole motifs

A selection of thistle and keyhole motifs.

Anyway, I hope you like what eventually gets chosen!

Bye for now,

Sarah Barr

By Noelle Campbell, Marketing Manager (Special Projects)

As I write, I’m sadly in the last week of a six month secondment from VisitScotland, the national tourist board.

The National Museum of Scotland has always done really well in terms of attracting tourist visitors, whether they’re from Perth, Scotland or Perth, Australia. However, there was a feeling – quite rightly! – within the Marketing & Development directorate that the opening of the superb new galleries, greatly enhancing the offering at the museum, was a real chance to shout our marketing messages from the rooftops, attracting more tourist visitors from far and wide then ever. I was delighted when I was asked to join the museum from VisitScotland to help devise a marketing campaign to attract visitors to the museum from beyond the local catchment area of within 90 minutes or so drive-time from the museum.

However, my role was actually multi-faceted in that I was also charged with developing relationships with a range of strategic partnerships to extend the reach of the museum’s promotional messages, and with generally supporting the wider marketing team with the main re-launch campaign.

It was straight in the deep end in week one, when my manager Jane Ferguson asked me to start work immediately on the production and implementation of a year-long tourism marketing campaign. That was a sign of things to come, and it’s been non-stop ever since – a common feeling for everybody who’s been involved with the opening!

It’s been a simply fantastic experience being involved with such an amazing, high-profile cultural attraction at such an exciting time. I’ve liaised with colleagues who are expert in everything from dinosaurs to native American costumes, and if anyone had told me back in March that I’d be organising banners the length of Princes Street, decorating an entire building in St Andrew Square, and having a Tyrannosaurus rex built for Jenners store window, I’d never have believed them. However all this and more has been part and parcel of the last six glorious months.

 ‘Jennersaurus’ takes centre stage in the iconic Princes Street’s store

‘Jennersaurus’ takes centre stage in the iconic Princes Street store.

Discovering the even bigger picture! Our creative in situ at St Andrew Square

Discovering the even bigger picture! Our creative in situ at St Andrew Square.

Even though I’ve only been here for a relatively short time, I felt extremely proud and  privileged to be part of the opening day celebrations on 29 July, and I can only imagine how the permanent staff across the organisation who’ve been building up to this moment for years must have felt.

Being in front of the building when the doors were thrown open, with fireworks going off and a roar of approval coming from the crowd was just an amazing experience, particularly when followed by the news that we’d more than doubled our visitor target, welcoming over 22,000 visitors in the first day alone. All in all, a magical day which I’ll never forget.

I hope my support has been helpful to the Marketing & Comms team over the last few months, and that I’m leaving them a legacy of a stronger understanding of the tourism industry and a range of new ways in which they can make their marketing efforts work even harder on behalf of the museum in the future. I’m very much hoping to continue to work closely with colleagues at the museum on my return to VisitScotland in September. There are lots of opportunities ahead to get the message out about the museum’s great new offering and upcoming exhibitions programme, particularly with the Year of  Creative Scotland kicking off in 2012.

More conventional promotion with Princes Street Visitor Information Centre

More conventional promotion in Princes Street Visitor Information Centre.

It’s been a huge pleasure working with colleagues right across the museum, and I’d like to say thanks to everybody I’ve worked with for all their help during what has been an incredibly busy time all round.

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity of working here, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it!

By Alex Hinton, Marketing Manager – Special Projects

Joining the Museum in May on a three month secondment with the marketing department meant I was thrown into a growing whirlwind of activity and excitement!  It’s been great fun and a real buzz as everyone is so animated about the new museum.

I work with The Audience Business, Edinburgh’s audience development agency for the cultural sector, but have been on loan to the museums (!) to work on the re-opening. Through TAB I’ve been involved with the museum for several years and was delighted when they asked me if I’d like to work with them on secondment.

I was brought on board as another pair of hands to help with the exciting campaigns and opportunities around the opening and also to look at strategies for maintaining audiences after the event.  It’s been difficult trying to juggle the immediate needs with thinking longer- term as pressing deadlines always take precedent and there is only one shot at the opening. I’ve picked up on a colourful mix of activities from internal displays to media competitions with national titles, from getting the word out to our cultural and commercial partners to organising new banners to take over Chambers Street.  Plus even random requests to sort out old road signs and source a Victorian gentleman’s costume for the opening ceremony (thank you Lyceum Theatre!).

Putting up banners on Chambers Street

Putting up banners on Chambers Street.

Something big is coming... poster outside the Museum. Photo © Jenni Sophia Fuchs.

Something big is coming... poster outside the Museum. Photo © Jenni Sophia Fuchs.

Grant Stott in Victorian garb

Grant Stott in Victorian garb, courtesy of the Lyceum Theatre.

Looking beyond the opening to the task of maintaining high visitor numbers: the new museum has so much to offer and I’m considering some of the ways the marketing team can harness this. We are working with a new box office and e-marketing systems to help us to improve communications with visitors and link into our growing social networking activity, which is looked after by the excellent Digital Team. I’m also looking at how we target audiences in future particularly families and young people.

Part of my time has been spent hot desking in the offices of the design and exhibitions team which has been a lively insight into how things really work behind the scenes at the museum! But I’m back in the familiar territory of the marketing department again now and can see all the careful planning coming together for what promises to be the biggest thing in Edinburgh this summer.

I’ll be sorry to be leaving just when the fun really starts.  But I know that even after my secondment is over, I’ll be spending a lot of time here. My 9 year old can’t wait to visit and with the new interactive galleries for families this will be one bit of pester power that I’ll happily give in to. Though unfortunately I know I won’t be able to stop myself checking out the ticketing, banners and communications every time I visit.

Kids having fun in the Imagine gallery

Kids having fun in the Imagine gallery.

James Coutts. Photo Chris Hill http://ChangingPace.infoBy James Coutts, Marketing Manager

I come up with ways of encouraging people to visit our museums and online channels.

In 2008, I watched the Victorian part of the National Museum of Scotland close for the building work to begin. Time has flown by and we’re now getting ready to open the bigger, better National Museum of Scotland.

We marketing people promote new products and services, but we don’t often get the chance to launch a new landmark like the National Museum of Scotland.

The bit of the campaign I’ve been working on is the paid-for advertising campaign.

With the advertising campaign we want to communicate that our new museum is a major attraction, create interest in the opening and attract larger audiences than ever before (from 615,000 visitors 2010/11 to over a million in the first year of the new museum).

My work on the campaign began in October 2010 with advertising agency Frame and media buyers MediaCom Edinburgh (346 emails and 40 meetings ago!). At the start Frame asked us probing questions – how would we convince a visitor that they should visit our new museum?  What makes us different?  Why should the consumer care? Visits to the new museum site to view work in progress, and to meet those curating new galleries, events and experiences followed, so they could get under the skin of the project.

The paid campaign aims to reach people living within 45 minutes of the museum. However, it will be seen by other audiences as well – for example, the Edinburgh tourism audience in town during the Edinburgh Festival.

The adverts need to make potential visitors feel that the new museum is a great place, with lots of things to see and do. Frame came up with visuals that generate intrigue and hopefully will drive visits.

The idea (or creative platform) is called ‘discover the bigger picture’.  The thinking behind it (or rationale) is:

Discover the Bigger Picture is about encouraging you to look deeper into things. To find out more. We’re inviting you on a journey. We want you to uncover the surprising and inspiring connections behind each and every story. We want you to be curious. We want to make you question things. We want to inspire you. We want you to discover the bigger picture at the National Museum of Scotland.

This big idea was then expressed in a range of marketing collateral, from outdoor posters, press adverts, street banners, Facebook competitions and a whole host of other communication touchpoints.

From Dinos to Dodos: one of the campaign images for the new National Museum of Scotland

From Dinos to Dodos: one of the campaign images for the new National Museum of Scotland.

You can see one of the ten final campaign visuals above. The campaign shows our objects in interesting combinations and reflects the diversity of our collection – always inviting the viewer to ‘Discover the Bigger Picture’.

Once we had found what we thought was the right campaign idea, we asked the audience what they thought. Campaign copy and visuals were shown to current visitors to find out what it meant to them, and if it would make them visit. In the research, it did.

We carefully selected objects that represented the range of objects and themes on show in our new galleries. The objects chosen also needed to have adult and family appeal, be intriguing and provoke curiosity.

While working on the visuals, our media buyers MediaCom Edinburgh were thinking hard about where and when to place them to make sure we reach our target audiences. There were many months of difficult questions as we debated which the most effective channels to place the adverts.

Campaign visuals with a high visual impact were used for larger moving formats like bus adverts. Others featuring objects like the Lewis Chessmen, which we know are key objects for tourism audiences, were used mainly outwith our target area.

Airmen to Chessmen: one of the campaign images

Airmen to Chessmen: another of the campaign images.

The timing of when the paid adverts were to start was also considered carefully – in the end we are aiming for a crescendo in profile – peaking the paid advertising activity from launch (when people can see the adverts and visit straight away) and sustaining interest beyond the opening week.

As you may have noticed, the campaign has already begun – the Larvae to Lava visual is already on Twitter, Facebook and our website. Yesterday the visuals went on show in the real world on banners in Princes Street, Edinburgh. Closer to the opening they will be on buses, bus stops, newspapers and magazines, and other more exciting places that I won’t mention now for you to spot.

The campaign bus advertisement.

One of the bus adverts.

One of my more regular phrases is that the ‘proof is in the pudding’. I’ll be watching our visitor numbers like a hawk from 29 July. Come along for the opening ceremony from 09:15 on 29 July and Discover the Bigger Picture for yourself!