Bid to promote SO Festival in Skegness sparks national controversy
SKEGNESS has been featured across the national media this week following a controversial publicity campaign by the district council.
In a bid to promote the resort and next week's SO Festival across the country, East Lindsey District Council decided to highlight some of the less appealing sights of Blackpool and Brighton on adverts featuring the strapline - for sights you'll want to remember - visit Skegness.
The adverts were intended to be published in the Blackpool Gazette and Brighton Argus newspapers however both publications refused to print them with regular SO Festival adverts run instead.
The campaign has met with a mixed response from local residents as well as the Blackpool and Brighton communities, but has received media coverage from upwards of 15 radio, TV and newspaper publications across the country.
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ELDC's James Gilbert, who commissioned the new advertising campaign, said: "We wanted to do a campaign to promote a debate between the resorts. The campaign absolutely wasn't supposed to be offensive or upsetting.
"On the back of this we have secured a piece of festival content from the Brighton Fringe event for next year, and are already talking about it to them.
"We have had a national platform for three days now. I think both resorts have enjoyed the debate and they have embraced it. It's helped raise the profile of the seaside offer in the UK."
ITV show Daybreak has also decided to broadcast from Skegness on June 26, when Denise Van Outen will be running Zumba classes on the beach.
The adverts have cost ELDC £1,500 which they say amounts to 1/70th of the overall marketing budget for the SO Festival.
Mr Gilbert added: "It was a brave thing to do, it wasn't something we took lightly. Some people might say some coverage was negative but I think it's been balanced."
His thoughts were echoed by development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in Lincolnshire, Michael Self.
He said: "I am delighted to see ELDC promoting the virtues of Skegness, like this.
"It is a very well thought out campaign which has already stimulated a lot of interest and discussion, not just in Lincolnshire, Brighton and Blackpool, but also nationally.
"For a very small investment, the campaign has generated millions of pounds worth of free publicity and really raised Skegness in the national consciousness.
"This is an imaginative use of very little funds to produce the maximum benefit for Skegness, well done ELDC."
Alan Stone from Brighton and Hove City Council, said: "Brighton is a very laid-back place so as you might imagine, we're relaxed about it. They've chosen us and Blackpool as we're the most successful destinations in the country.
"Their adverts are designed to attract media attention rather than sell Skegness in themselves – so congratulations to them."
Mr Stone said the authority had also been amused to see a photograph of Brighton volleyball used in promotional material for the SO Festival which he claimed ELDC was "passing off as Skegness" but ELDC said this was an image supplied by Volleyball England to promote the beach sports taking place this year.
Not everyone feels the campaign has been a success however. Skegness Mayor, Councillor Mark Anderson, is in the process of writing to ELDC's acting chief executive to complain about their use of the town's name.
He said: "As mayor, I think it's unfair for ELDC to use our town without our permission (Skegness Town Council). They don't live here and they don't have to pick up the pieces, we do. We didn't make these remarks or commission these photographs."