Saturday, November 06, 2004

MTV EMAS? CASH IN THE BAG: As Rome prepares to take its turn as a host for the MTV Europe Awards, there's still a lot of arguing going on about last year's event in Edinburgh, which saw three quarters of a million in public money being pumped in to attract the event to the Scottish capital. The debate doesn't even seem to have touched on the question of why the British taxpayer is underwriting a promotional event for the incredibly cash-rich Viacom media empire - is that fine for Janet Jackson's nipples hurting them so much they can't afford a statge and some lights? - but on if tempting the EMAs ot Scotland represented good value.

Oddly enough, Philip Riddle, of VisitScotland, reckons it was a brilliant idea:

"MTV was really important in changing people’s perception of Scotland and introducing us to a younger market. On the back of this, we are marketing various action sports through our various websites. Through MTV we have been able to say Scotland is a funky place and can be great fun."

Rrright... we're not sure quite why Visit Scotland would have felt unable to run adverts for watersports on "various websites" had the MTV awards not been in Edinburgh the year before - and we're also not totally clear on why people would associate a music event in a metropolitan district with the many attractions for surfers and rock-climbers. Do people planning trips for extreme sports choose their destinations not on the basis of where the snowboard runs are most challenging, but on if Christina Aguilera was once seventy or eighty miles away from them?

John Lennon has an opinion, too. Not that John Lennon, apparently "Scotland's foremost tourism expert" share the same name:

Professor John Lennon, of Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland’s foremost tourism expert, said the MTV awards were a "triumph in giving Edinburgh a global reach to the 16- to 25 year-olds that is virtually impossible using traditional media".

Yes, but does that actually make it money well spent? (And since when did a TV programme not be traditional media?) After all, we'd more or less forgotten that the EMAs were in Edinburgh last year; the venue for the fourth-most important music awards show of the year isn't the sort of thing that sticks in people's minds.

Bruce Macdonald, of SQW, said that in addition to the extra income generated at the time of the event, worldwide TV coverage was worth an estimated £8.6 million in advertising. Global print coverage, with 928 newspapers writing about the event, led to a readership of more than 500 million, worth about £4.8 million.

This is a consultant speaking, of course. And these are meaningless figures, because even if they're accurate - and they're little more than supposition - nobody who was planning to spend thirteen million quid on advertising would spend it all in one big lump, aimed at a very, very thin sliver of the demographic, and one - at that - which isn't really that big a spender. Face it, Edinburgh, the people who watch MTV in America aren't the ones who choose where the family is going on holiday next year. Even if you don't want to accept that the people who read about the EMAs, watch the EMAs and log-on for information about the EMAs are the same people, and so it's a complete over-advertising blitz, the "worldwide" effect is going to be negligible. And if you were an advertising director who spent thirteen million quid and it resulted in flogging a few extra weekend breaks to people with boogieboards, you'd be lucky to find a new job writing small ads for a classified freesheet.

The MTV EMAs did a good job - for a low spend, they generated an extra eight million in spending around the event. But trying to claim that last year's pop video prize ceremony is going to offer rewards "for years to come" is to stretch credibility tighter than Kylie's forehead.