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A welcome best

Brian Taylor | 11:55 UK time, Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Prepare to be astonished. Stand by to gasp and gulp. Sit down, breathe deeply, this is big.

You’ll remember that Alex Salmond took an ill will against the slogan welcoming passengers to Scottish airports.

In case you’d forgotten, the slogan proclaimed that Scotland was “the best small country in the world.”

Mr Salmond thought it combined the worst of Scottish attitudes, bombast blended with the Caledonian cringe.

And his alternative? For a spell, nothing specific emerged. The first Minister resembled King Lear in his latter phase. “I will do such things – what they are yet I know not, but they shall be the terrors of the earth.”

But today we got the details. We learned, we were enlightened, we watched in awe.

The new slogan will be: “Welcome to Scotland.”

I know, I know. Be still my beating heart. Such excitement, such glamour.

The Scottish Government calls it a “vibrant” new campaign. “Welcome to Scotland.”

Now one or two sceptics out there might think this new phrase a little lacking in energy – or even, perhaps, originality. Take their names, I say.

Apparently, this isn’t a slogan. We are not comparing like with like. It is a “generic theme”, within which we are to discern the particular merits of each locality.

At Glasgow Airport, images will project the Commonwealth Games; in Edinburgh, literature; in Aberdeen, oil; in Dundee, the City of Discovery; in Inverness, the Highlands; in Prestwick, Burns country.

Me, I think they’ve missed a trick. I think the slogans – sorry, generic themes – should have been localised.

In Aberdeen, “fit like?” In Dundee, “bra’, is it?” In Edinburgh, “you’ll have had your tea.” And the like. We could have run competitions in schools.

PS: Oh, and the cost? Still checking – but the ballpark figure is thought to be £100,000, to cover the art work and other materials.


  • 1.
  • At 12:24 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Shaun Harvey wrote:

It may be rubbish and unimaginative but it's still alot better than the old one. Maybe now we can leave slogans alone and get on with politics as who can argue that "Welcome to Scotland" is unfitting.

  • 2.
  • At 12:25 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

All of which will only serve to reinforce the view south of the border that Scotland is getting too much money from UK plc if it has money to burn on things like this.

  • 3.
  • At 12:33 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ed Gray wrote:

Fàilte gu Alba.

Alba gu Bràth!

  • 4.
  • At 12:42 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Dougie Dubh wrote:

At the risk of exposing over-inflated pride, we could have had something like:

"Welcome to Scotland;
(Arguably) One of The Best Devolved Regions in Britain."

Although that would have used up more art materials.

  • 5.
  • At 12:44 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Stuart D wrote:

As long as they replace the 'Pure Dead Brilliant' at Prestwick airport then it will be worth every penny.

Surely the literal interpretation of that must send a rather confusing message to anyone that didn't watch the BBC in the late '80s?!

  • 6.
  • At 12:45 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ross wrote:

much better than the old one

  • 7.
  • At 12:49 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • J Daley wrote:

Haven't they learned from the recent fiasco in Edinburgh where something similar cost £100k and only kept four people in a job?

In fact, hang on, have those four just been transferred?

  • 8.
  • At 12:50 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • N Mackenzie wrote:

Yes, I can see you're underwhelmend!
No doubt the cost of rebranding came into it (100K is a drop in the ocean for such an exercise).
But yes, a sclools competition would have been a god idea. A trick missed, unusually, by our pubilicity minded FM.

  • 9.
  • At 12:54 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Simon M wrote:

Extra money for new slogans, signs,letterheads and ministerial limos - is this really what we voted for in May?

  • 10.
  • At 01:07 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Charlie McCabe wrote:

I'm one of the nations floating voters, not that sure about independence or the like. Salmond appeared a good choice at the time but he's turning out to be "a bit of a rocket" in Glasgow speak. At least "welcome to the best small country in the world" had a message. We are a small country and it communicates the message that we think we are the best - and I believe we are. I think Salmond is niave to think that by highlighting we're a small country that it's something to be ashamed of. He seems to be more intent with changing the name of everything that actually delivering on any policy or manifesto pledges. What a nugget!

  • 11.
  • At 01:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ruairidh wrote:

The Gaelic equivalent should be included as 'Ceud mile failte' is far more poignant and imaginative; vying with the Arabic 'Ahlan wu sahalan' for originality. Maybe at a later date Alex!

  • 12.
  • At 01:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

we're a country - what do we need a daft wee slogan for. McConnel's "best wee country" nonsense was embarassing. made me cringe whenever i flew back into the country. "Welcome to Scotland" at the airports is sufficient.

  • 13.
  • At 01:10 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Raymond wrote:

Please confirm that this change of slogans will include the thoroughly embarrassing "Pure dead brilliant" at Prestwick.

  • 14.
  • At 01:29 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Stewart, Dundee wrote:

I have always hated the previous slogan and always wondered what the point of a slogan is. Quite frankly there was no need for it.

I dreaded what it's replacement was going to be and I am delightfully surprised. It is exactly what it should be and none of the pretenious nonsense that it could have been.

As far as the cost goes had Jack Mcconnell not left well alone we wouldn't have wasted this money creating his stupid slogan in the first place then having to replace it.

Just shows what happens when politicians meddle when there is no need to.

  • 15.
  • At 01:30 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • John N Sutherland wrote:

I don't like nationalism, but Alec and his lot are a whole lot better than Jack and his numpties ever were. At least we are going somewhere as a country with the Nats. But ... sorry, Alec ... kinda boring slogan.

And, you missed one for the Weegies: 'So it was, but!'

  • 16.
  • At 01:33 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Harry Shanks wrote:

On a similar note:

I recently visited Prestwick airport and was glad to notice that they've now removed the cartoons of the drunken Scots lying in the gutter which used to greet visitors - can they now get rid of the Tam O'Shanter wearing cartoon characters as well?

Who hires these PR people? It's unbelievable

  • 17.
  • At 01:51 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

the last slogan was absolutely terrible...a self-confident country shouldn't need to go around puffing its chest and declaring itself "better" than anyone else.

"welcome to scotland" is perfectly aqequate.

  • 18.
  • At 01:58 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Heather wrote:

"Welcome to Scotland" - Wow, how original!

You can tell that so little time and effort has gone into this latest marketing ploy? As some-one that works in the tourism industry in Scotland, we are always being told that we need to move away from the "traditional" images that people associate with Scotland etc... We are told to show the country in a more dynamic, upbeat way, and to shy away from the tartan, haggis & shortbread imagery.

What is exiting about linking Edinburgh to literature, Ayrshire to Burns Country, Aberdeen to oil etc? People already know about these conntections - they hardly make you want to jump up and come running.

"The Best Small Country" slogan was fantastic, along with the images portrayed alongside. The only problem with it was the technicality of whether you could legally say it was the best small country or whether you needed to say "probably the best small country".

And anyway, doesn't Mr Salmond know that the best things come in small packages?!

  • 19.
  • At 02:01 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Pendragon wrote:

I think that this simple greeting is a vast improvement on the previous effort,which had the tone of a plaque in a Tartan Gift Shop.

It is to be hoped that every item of Government Expenditure is not going to be costed to the nearest penny on Your Blog.I do not recall a similar approach being taken when the previous FM appointed himself Scottish Ambassador to that hub of Culture and Commerce ..........Malawi.Surely Scotland's most unwelcome Foreign adventure since the Darien Scheme.

  • 20.
  • At 02:05 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

"Welcome to Scotland" says it all really, would personally have prefered "Scotland welcomes you" & the "haste ye back" of Ayrshire towns (when leaving) but there you go. At lot better than the original "best wee country in the world" though!

No more need for Labour Unionist gesturing, just simple statements of fact: "The Scottish Government" (rather than meaningless "Executive") and "Welcome to Scotland" (rather than a simultaneously boastful and patronising slogan).

  • 21.
  • At 02:25 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • HughB wrote:

Actually the previous Labour administration spent around £1 million on the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital slogan, which has just been scrapped, and spent a lot of that on going to a London design agency for the name Edinburgh with three curves drawn above it.

I'm all for Scotland coming up with it own "brand".

  • 22.
  • At 02:33 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Suzanne Martin wrote:

I think "Welcome to Scotland" is perfect. I don't see why they ever had to put the old one up in the first place - and I didn't like the silly message it sent out.

  • 23.
  • At 02:48 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Samuel Forbes wrote:

Definately miles better than the old one. It does what it says on the tin. I think this is the right approach. Scotland has a lot going for it and I think it would always be difficult to some it up in one slogan (which most see through anyway). Welcome To Scotland, with local variations will install local pride and a sense that the tourist is now entering another area of Scotland rich in intrigue..

  • 24.
  • At 02:48 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Aaron wrote:

You really have to love the SNP.

£200K or so wasted on changing the name of far.

Should this not have gone on Police officers or something else that would make a difference to peoples lives?

In my opinion to many grand gestures are being place in front of bread and butter issues.

Excellent, simple, clean, sharp and to the point.

Of course, we aren't just paying for the slogan we're also paying for the design and of course, the slogan has regional (in the real sense of the word) variations.

Welcome to Scotland is a bit more solid than any 'contrived' slogan which anyone who has been anywhere will know is nonsense e.g. check out Copenhagen airport or even Kuwait or Abu Dhabi and compare it to Edinburgh or Glasgow...

We'll get there, but not until we control our own wealth.

  • 26.
  • At 02:59 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • David McDowell wrote:

My suggestion is "Scotland - one big celebration!" This could be used to market anything from a three-day break at New Year all the way up to the Commonwealth Games in 2014. It avoids McConnell's appalling small-mindedness and promotes our greatest strength: the ability to enjoy ourselves! The best bit of all is my slogan does not cost £100,000. I am perfectly willing to license the copyright to whoever wants to use it for half that amount!!

  • 27.
  • At 03:01 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

Not earth shattering, incredibly intellectual stuff. But straight forward and to the point. The best wee country in the world didnt sit well with me, but its not as bad as pure dead brilliant. Who was that to encourage into our fine country, anybody outside of scotland and everybody in scotland over 30 would have been utterly confused.
"Welcome to scotland" its ok, ive nothing against it. Just would like to see more of a push with advertising in europe, especially with the very low dollar, I dont see too many americans popping over this year.

  • 28.
  • At 03:14 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ross wrote:

#24 the alternative, of course, is London Labour spending 7bn to date on an illegal war in Iraq and 20bn plus on weapons of mass destruction, both of which totally unwanted....Id rather have the SNP wasting money any day of the week

  • 29.
  • At 03:14 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Peter, Edinburgh wrote:

I am not a fan of nationalism but I think Alex Salmond may have got this one right.

I thought "Best Small Country" was appalling. What a way to greet visitors from Denmark, New Zealand, Norway - or indeed any other small country in the world. It was boastful and provactive (in the worst sense) and I would have thought raised hackles.

"Welcome to Scotland" may at first seem unimaginative but, if used with dramatic imagery - mountains of west highlands, Mearns farmland, Edinburgh skyline (the Hampden crowd?) - its simplicity will be a lot more effective.

  • 30.
  • At 03:22 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • sandymac wrote:

I think it's all preposterous. I never know which government is being spoken of now, English or Scottish. As for Welcome to Scotland, that usually goes without saying but I suppose the SNP can't take anything for granted.

  • 31.
  • At 04:04 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Graeme wrote:

"Ceud mile failte" is "a thousand welcomes" and is used on signs going into towns, I think Ireland use it. Welcome to Scotland has "Fáilte gu Alba" below it, personally I would have put this first and the Welcome to Scotland as the underneath part...

  • 32.
  • At 06:38 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Nicola Lewis wrote:

New Zealand used to be called "the best small country in the world" and we even had a song about it. But we managed to rebrand ourselves with an actual slogan. And three rather long movies. "Welcome to Scotland" will do for now...

  • 33.
  • At 07:51 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Jimmy G wrote:

Cripes. I'm well out of step. I thought the old one was OK.
Never have liked slogans that say, "Welcome to Blah" because it always invites the riposte, "You're welcome to it!".

  • 34.
  • At 08:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Another cheap(?) ploy by Salmond to distract from real politics.

My suggestion....

"Scotland, you're welcome to it".

  • 35.
  • At 10:29 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • DMK wrote:

Thank God the old slogan's gone- it was incredibly embarrassing and I was pleasantly surprised and relieved when arriving back in Edinburgh the other night.

Now they need to change the equally cringe-worthy "Tartan Week" in NYC- where no one knows what tartan is anyway (they call it plaid)..

  • 36.
  • At 10:35 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

I really used to shudder as I passed the previous stupid slogan,wondering what citizens of other countries with greater claims to be "The Best Small Country in the World" would think of such empty bragging."Welcome To Scotland" suits me fine. It is polite, plain and without any gimmicky nonsense about it, just the way I would like my country to be seen.

  • 37.
  • At 11:00 PM on 27 Nov 2007,
  • Bill McMenemy wrote:

Do you think "sic a parcel o' rogues in a nation" sends out the wrong message? I like to stay with the messages at all times.

  • 38.
  • At 12:03 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • John S. wrote:

I don't see how this slogan/sign is new because there has been an identical "Welcome to Scotland" sign on the A1 border since at least August this year. I rather liked it, actually, and took my son's photograph next to it - he looks tiny next to it.

  • 39.
  • At 12:06 AM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Sandra wrote:

Had occasion recently to 'inspect' the image of our Scotland portrayed to potential tourists at Zeebrugge while waiting to board for Rosyth. If that is the best Visit Scotland can do, heaven help us! Incidentally I did not see ANYTHING at Rosyth for welcoming folk ashore - even that ghastly 'wee small thing'. Welcome to Scotland at least at this point of entry too surely. At least the ferry was promoting Scottish fare, altho' was somewhat intrigued by the Cock a' Leekie soup. Ever met Cream of Cock a'Leekie? I have. Interesting.

  • 40.
  • At 01:06 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • T wrote:

# 24 - The idea to change the name to 'The Scottish Government' was actually first posited by Henry McLeish when he was FM. Strangely enough, the idea was vetoed by his London bosses.

  • 41.
  • At 05:44 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Ed Gray wrote:

For the record, the previous (Labour-Liberal) Executive launched a search for an image with which to ‘re-brand’ Scotland.

It came up with the idea of using the Saltire flag.

The cost? Circa £300,000.

And that was just for the ‘consultation’!

  • 42.
  • At 06:47 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Tam McGowan wrote:

Welcome to Scotland, freed from UK Labour sleeze by the SNP!

Being the bias nationalist, I would have been much happier with it saying "Saor Alba"

But then again, not everyones seen the light at the end of the tunnel yet.

Well done to the Scottish Government though, anythings better than the previous phrase showing a lack of ambition and pride in our country.

  • 44.
  • At 11:43 PM on 28 Nov 2007,
  • Brian McHugh wrote:

"WELCOME TO SCOTLAND... much more so than Brown!"

  • 45.
  • At 01:03 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Mathias wrote:

At least the “new” slogan creates a lot of publicity. I just read about the slogan in a Scandinavian newspaper.

  • 46.
  • At 10:52 AM on 04 Dec 2007,
  • ayrshireman wrote:

I'm no Nat, but the new slogan seems fine. Forget all the Gaelic most Scots I don't understand it and have no intention of starting. It gives a false image of the place. Was it ever the language of lowlands Scots?

  • 47.
  • At 08:10 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Celeste Weaver wrote:

SCOTLAND...Legend, Lore, & More

Instead of paying out such a large amount of money for a new slogan, I'd have settled for a lovely vist to the home my family left 500 years ago.
"Welcome to Scotland"...what were you thinking?!?

Celeste B. Weaver

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