Attention grabber (Alastair Christie-Johnston)

In reading Allen Fraser’s (Shetland Geotours) letter (Silly Shetland stories, Friday 1st February) I would suggest he may be missing something that is hugely important when it comes to advertising.  

The world already knows that Shetland is a place of outstanding natural beauty and natural history.

 It was placed No 4 by National Geographic Traveller in a survey of the world’s best rated islands and what is needed to capture the attention of potential tourists is quirky little attention-getting advertisements of the gansey-clad ponies sort.  Don’t underestimate it.  

Those ponies went round the world in double-quick time, prompting a CNN report of inestimable value and have been the subject of endless Facebook and Twitter comment.  Whether you like it or not, ponies in Fair Isle gansies are winners for Shetland.

Alastair Christie-Johnston

4 Steenbrae


Add Your Comment
  • Leslie Lowes

    • February 3rd, 2013 15:57

    Sure are good for tourism, so it shouldn’t be knocked. Friends south all loved these pictures and they drew attention to Shetland, planted the seed as it were, from which bigger things may grow…..

  • John Tulloch

    • February 4th, 2013 18:08

    Whit aboot windmills in Fair Isle gansies?

  • ian tinkler

    • February 4th, 2013 21:18

    The world already knows that Shetland is a place of outstanding natural beauty and natural history. Tell that to VE and Charitable Trust trustees. Fortunate for Shetland, Salmond and Ewing are such fools. Want to be in the EU but ignore the rules and directives. Pity about £14 Trust funds lost on VE to date, rather typical but a bit sad. Praise the Lord and let’s sanctify the blessed Wimbrel, truly holy among birds. How about a Wimbrel in a Fair Isle gansies.

  • ian tinkler

    • February 4th, 2013 21:26

    Also perhaps a Halo to match the wings. Wimbrel, guardian angel of Shetland, may be a God after all.

  • Allen Fraser

    • February 5th, 2013 0:27

    Reply to Alastair Christie-Johnston

    Unlike Mr Christie-Johnston I am in daily contact with potential or actual visitors to Shetland as well as travel companies and I canvass their opinions. I know that Shetland’s natural environment should be a great draw to bring visitors to Shetland but our fantastic landscape and natural history doesn’t promote itself.

    Visit Scotland’s ‘Year of Natural Scotland’ should have been an excellent opportunity for Shetland to promote all the recent hard work that has been done to make the understanding and appreciation of our natural environment more accessible to visitors. Instead the international Geopark designation and brand that Shetland worked so hard to gain has been ignored in favour of a silly gimmick that says nothing about our environment.

    This latest gimmick might be attention-getting but it does absolutely nothing to enhance or build on the kind of positive write-up we have had from the likes of National Geographic. In fact it does the opposite by suggesting to a vast ‘twittering’ audience that such stupidity is the best that Shetland can come up with as our contribution to the ‘Year of Natural Scotland’. Pellet röls in Fair Isle ganzies is a fule-mak of Shetland by those who seem to care little about Shetland’s natural environment and understand less about how it should be promoted.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • February 5th, 2013 13:06

    That photo of the ponies in Fair isle gansies has been shared and commented on, on facebook more than any other photo from these isles. It is a great ambassador for Shetland which is more than I can say for some antiquated stick in the mud self styled guardians of these isles.

  • Alastair Christie-Johnston

    • February 19th, 2013 10:36

    I have newly discovered this page and welcome the chance to add a further comment.
    I don’t doubt Allen Fraser is in ‘daily contact with potential or actual visitors to Shetland’ but his contacts will obviously be of the sort who are particularly interested in eco-tourism. There is more to Shetland than eco-tours and one of our major attractions – and incidentally one of our best earners for over a century – is Fair Isle knitting.
    Readers will be aware that the art form is making a comeback in the global fashion market and no one does it better than Shetlanders. We should seek to capitalise on this in every way possible. The ponies in ganseys do it brilliantly.
    I am likewise strongly in favour of promoting our eco-tourism, having spent a considerable part of my life doing precisely that, including writing a book about the pristine beauty of Shetland. (Sea View, The Shetland Times (2011) ) but let’s make every post a winner and not undermine one another’s attempts at promoting these beautiful islands.

  • Rebecca Hamilton

    • March 29th, 2013 17:15

    Sigh. This string makes me both sad and happy. Internal bickering about Ponies in Gansies versus Close Ups on Killer Whales misses the point. The reality is that ‘the world’, generally speaking in simple terms, neither a) know where Shetland is nor, b) know that Shetland is a brilliant place to visit or buy splendid products from.

    The ‘marketing challenge’ for Shetland is one of awareness and understanding, and – crucially – delivering on promise.

    We know Shetland is brilliant due to it’s myriad of characteristics, qualities, pursuits and exports. We also know what those things are. Colonies of Seabirds; fashion-crafted knitwear; etc, etc, etc. We could list thousands of things here. But lots and lots of people a) don’t know and b) realise they might fancy ‘Shetland’, and all that comes under that banner.

    We need both targeted, bespoke, niche messaging to Eco-tourists and mass-market, attention-grabbing, cut through ‘introduction’ communication.

    The point is – we need both. And much, much more of it. With the recent drip-effect of tv drama, ponies gone viral, well groomed coastal presenters…. People I work with (way beyond the Sooth Mooth) are less looking at me with a confused frown, but with a enthusiastic interest, when I talk about my islands.

    That, and actually delivering on our promise, is more of what we need. Much more.

    And what makes me happy? That two individuals care about it enough to bicker. Though I suspect all our energies could be better spent. #AmbassadorForShetland


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