Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Glasgow’s Miles Better – our best campaign, ever

Wandering through Kelvingrove I notice the small display that remember the “Glasgow’s Mile Better” campaign of the 1980s, and it reminded of an article I tripped over recently, and unfortunately immediately dismissed and forgot, as it was slightly derogatory of then Lord Provost of Glasgow, Michael Kelly.

The story seemed to promote the idea that he and his campaign were problematic.

At the time, I was well aware of who Michael Kelly was, and what he was doing to improve Glasgow, and how approachable and realistic he was.

The only problem I recall from that time was that he VASTLY improved the city’s image worldwide.

I guess that must have upset some people.

He was the patron and honorary president of our CB (Citizen’s Band radio) club, and really did have a CB rig/radio in the council’s Rolls Royce of the time (registration number G 0 ), and could actually be contacted and spoken to while being chauffeured between various events.

I spotted this gem recalling one of the campaign’s successes, born of an attempt to suppress it!

The campaign ran across UK media and was supported by extensive PR initiatives. One of the most remarkable PR stories concerned Glasgow’s rival city Edinburgh. One of the Struthers recommendations was to target tourists to Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festival so a modest campaign was booked to run on the sides of six Edinburgh buses. In the eighties, Edinburgh buses were owned by Edinburgh Council which took umbrage at the thought of Glasgow being promoted on their buses and as a result, they banned the campaign. Within days the story of Edinburgh banning Glasgow had gone worldwide and even made the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The coverage was immense and the Miles Better campaign owed a huge debt of gratitude to the City of Edinburgh for their assistance in promoting Glasgow to a global audience.

Even so, some cheeky people still say “Glasgow’s Miles Better…than Edinburgh“.

Glasgow's Miles Better

Glasgow’s Miles Better

Apparently Glasgow then only 3,000 hotel rooms.

It’s tourist information centre was a 25-year-old hut planted on George Square.

But, the same year the campaign started, the Greater Glasgow Tourist Board (GGTB) was established, and The Burrell Collection opened in Pollok Park.

A report dated 2016 indicated there were more 7,500 hotel room in the city, with a further 1,500 to be added.

I found a nice media pic from 1984.

Michael Kelly with Sally Magnusson in March 1984 (Image Media Scotland)

TV Presenter Sally Magnusson with Michael Kelly in March 1984 (Image Media Scotland)

Bonus fact

I’ve just been told the campaign was run by a  Scottish advertising agency, Struthers Advertising.

And that, in turn was run by a neighbour of mine, commercial artist John Struthers, born in Shettleston apparently.

I’m sure he wasn’t actually a neighbour by then though. If he was running an advertising agency, he’d have moved out of the poverty and early death east end of Glasgow pronto.


Dec 8, 2018 - Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , ,

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