Shortlisted 2022

Travel & Tourism


Brand Scotland

Entered by:

Carat UK


BBC Studios, New York Times, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Teads, The Leith Agency

Many Brands Make Light Work - Collaboratively Building Scotland's Brand At COP26

The Challenge

In November 2021, all eyes were on Scotland as Glasgow hosted the highly anticipated COP26 event, where world leaders met to agree on targets against the Climate Change crisis.

Never had the opportunity been greater to raise Scotland’s profile and show the world that they are a welcoming country of riches beyond the pound and pence.

For cross-agency governmental body Brand Scotland, COP26 was the perfect opportunity to cement Scotland’s reputation as a generous, welcoming, determined country that cared about climate justice.

International attention? Check. A high-profile event centred around the very values we sought to demonstrate? Check.

Our ambition was to reach over 10m people internationally to ensure we took advantage of COP26.

In addition, we needed to make sure our message landed. Scottish Government set us ambitious perception targets on key messages.

  • Scotland is a progressive nation
  • Scotland is adopting a fair and inclusive approach to recovery from the pandemic

Alas, we weren’t the only team talking COP. 803 creatives were live in the UK with ‘cop’ in their title. COP26 was as much about marketing as it was climate targets.

Brand Scotland’s previous two campaigns had budgets of £1.9m and £1.1m – this time, we had £540k with which to reach over 10m people internationally and deliver enough standout that we could convince those reached of Scotland’s progressive and inclusive approach.

It was the noisiest period ever; and we had lower budgets and more challenging targets.

The Content Solution

Ordinarily, in a period of noise (like COP26), one seeks to tell a different story to stand out from the competitive set. However, Brand Scotland is unique. Brand Scotland is a cross-agency governmental body, tasked with delivering a strong nation brand. The central Brand Scotland team work alongside the likes of Scottish Development International and VisitScotland to market Scotland to the world.

Brand Scotland benefits from the multiple messages partners tell about Scotland’s values.

They also had another ace up their sleeves – a wider field of vision, on account of Carat UK being the media agency of choice for Brand Scotland and the key government partners looking to promote Scotland’s wares internationally during COP; VisitScotland and Scottish Development International.

In so many agency-client relationships, we’re struggling to keep competitor brands apart – it’s the opposite in our work with Brand Scotland. Having one view across partners is of paramount importance. So important is this crossover that we retain all accounts within the same team internally. At Carat, we make it our job to align partner activity seamlessly so that we can achieve the most for Scotland out of the different investment pots.

In the summer before COP26, we took a holistic look at all activity planned across all partners to identify potential opportunities and challenges (see figure 1 attached)

There are two approaches when aligning activity;

  1. You keep them as separate as possible in their targeting to build incremental reach, or
  2. you do the opposite, finding overlapping audiences and serving additional messaging to build engagement.

Or you can get an agency that can do both.

We developed a sophisticated combined approach; Layer First, Reinforce Second.

We based our strategy on timing – in the run-up to COP, we used audiences who’d engaged with Scottish branding activity across the year to sequentially retarget our Brand Scotland COP26 activity. The same people would see multiple messages to build our story.

However, once we were in the thick of COP26 noise, we prioritised incremental reach and split audiences so that there was no crossover in our targeting. Frequency came down, and one overarching message went out to individuals.

Thereby harnessing the power of collaboration for both engagement – and reach.

The Media/Content Amplification Solution

Brand Scotland identified the UK, US, France & Germany as markets they wanted to shift perceptions of Scotland in; these territories represent higher net economic value opportunity, based on the business and traveller make-up.

To achieve both reach and perception change, we needed two vehicles;

  1. Brand Vehicles – to drive overarching message about Scotland
  2. Contextual Vehicles – to reinforce messaging through ‘case studies’

Brand Vehicles

After a competitive pitch, we selected the BBC and NY Times as high reach partners with credibility.

The BBC is the world’s most trusted news publisher, with high reach in all targeted geographies.

Having used the BBC to promote partner activity previously, we could leverage ‘warm audiences’ in the run-up to COP26, using display and video across international BBC platforms.

We sponsored a series of digital content at launch, centring around themes like workplace, travel, and technology. We took over any Scottish content on TV, running our 30-second ad on BBC World News internationally.

The campaign also benefited from an additional 66 bonus TV spots.

The NY Times offers reach in key European countries and North America. We’d used NY Times before, meaning we could retarget, but also extend our reach by building incremental audiences.

We took out high impact display and video formats with interactive units across the portfolio, allowing us to showcase Scotland’s values to an audience of ‘progressive leaders’ who read the NY Times.

Contextual Vehicles

We needed to find people engaging with relevant stories so that we could reinforce how stories of Scotland aligned with progressive values.

Partnering with Teads, the biggest video platform for premium news publishers, we targeted audiences in our four markets, when they were engaging with relevant discourse.

Teads crafted custom audiences, mapping performance data from previous Brand Scotland audiences against multiple signals to craft a bespoke brand persona. We could find those who were ‘warm’ before COP, then build incremental reach in the noisy period.

We had worked with Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter on prior campaigns, so could find those engaging with the right content, and build tailored audiences allowing for sequential messaging of warm audiences, followed by incremental reach of new audiences.

Facebook and Instagram secured our greatest reach, but Twitter had previously proven key in reaching those who reflect our values and beliefs. Linkedin was ideal for engaging our business influencer audience.

The Result

We set out to reach over 10m people internationally and convince them of Scotland’s commitment to progressive values and climate justice.

Instead, we reached over 13 million.

BBC Worldwide
The results were fantastic and proved that our balancing act of reach and engagement was paying off.

  • 2.4 million impressions
  • 297K unique users/reach
  • 5K clicks
  • 13.7 min average dwell time on content hub articles (8 min benchmark)

New York Times
Once again, we managed to combine reach and engagement.

  • 6.8 million impressions
  • 69.2% video completion rate (60% benchmark)

This approach successfully delivered our target at scale.

  • 7.9 million impressions
  • 2.35 million video views
  • A reach of over 4.4 million

Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin & Twitter
The results were huge, achieving:

  • 15.4 million impressions
  • 6.9 million video views
  • a reach of 8.5 million

By tailoring our strategy to re-engage those who had been served Scottish branding messaging in previous campaigns and then stripping those audiences from our targeting at COP time to build incremental reach, we made investment work as hard as possible.

We overdelivered on our reach target by 30%!

But we didn’t just deliver reach. Most importantly, we built on that by smashing our perception targets:

  1. To maintain agreement among campaign recognisers the campaign portrays Scotland in a positive light.

Target: 87% Achieved: 88%

  1. To increase agreement among campaign recognisers that Scotland is a progressive nation.

Target: 54% (+4%) Achieved: 63% (+13%)

  1. To maintain agreement among campaign recognisers that Scotland is adopting a fair and inclusive approach to recovery from the pandemic.

Target: 40% Achieved: 67%

  1. Encourage recognisers to consider recommending Scotland as a place to live/work, study, do business/invest and/or visit to family and friends.

Target: 40% Achieved: 66%

  1. Encourage recognisers to take action in response to seeing the campaign.

Target: 50% Achieved: 86%