Virgin Money Uses Fringe Deal To Paint Edinburgh Red

Virgin Money has moved in to overdrive in its sponsorship of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. As lead sponsor of several elements of the festival – from ‘Fringe On the High Street’ to the closing ‘Festival Fireworks Concert’ – the brand has turned much of the city centre the distinctive Virgin red through major outdoor activity, posters and on-stage brand presence.


Its backing of the ‘Fringe On The High Street’ sees the brand have a strong ambient festival presence through specially erected hoardings, lamppost branding, billboard and poster sites across the festival sites and particularly down the length of the city’s key thoroughfare – the Royal Mile.


Launched in 1947, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is now the largest arts festival in the world. It takes place in Scotland’s capital city for three weeks every August. The Fringe typically sees 40,000-plus performances of 3-4,000 shows starring 20,000 performers.


Last year the ‘Fringe On The High Street’ event itself attracted around one million people in total and offered hundreds of thousands the chance to watch some of the world’s best street theatre for free.


Virgin claim that the synergy behind its sponsorship is the accessibility and openness of an event that caters to all tastes and styles of performance – however eclectic.


‘At Virgin Money we aim to make ‘everyone better off’ which makes the Fringe Society the perfect partner for us as it’s open and accessible to everyone,’ says Virgin Money CEO Jayne-Anne Gadhia. ‘The atmosphere in the city is like nothing else. And we particularly love the open-access ethos of the street events, where undiscovered talent, residents and visitors all have the chance to get involved in the action,’ says Gadhia


Economic accessibility is another feature of the Fringe Festival – with tickets prices ranging from £100s to free entry for the High Street strand of the festival. Virgin is also activating its rights in this space too via the Virgin Money Half Price Hut where tickets are 50 per cent of their normal price.


Through the ‘Fringe On The High Street’ section of the festival, Virgin is supporting street performers, show promoters, live statues, and performances on several Virgin Money-branded stages down the Royal Mile and at the Virgin On The Mound venue.


The dedicated Virgin Money Street Events team schedules stages and other street performance areas, as well as organises arts and crafts markets and provides the infrastructure and necessary permissions for this spectacular event to take place. They ensure the street performance areas are a safe and fun, family environment with equal opportunity for all to participate.


Chief Executive of the Festival Fringe Society, Kath M Mainland, says:


‘Virgin Money has a growing presence in Edinburgh and it is fantastic that they have chosen to sponsor the ‘Fringe on the High Street’ event. One of the core responsibilities of the Fringe Society is to support those who participate in the Fringe and the opportunities offered by the event that we manage each year on the High Street and The Mound is a key part of that support. Over the coming years we will work closely with Virgin Money to make ‘Fringe on the High Street’ and the events that surround it even more exciting and dynamic than they have ever been before.’


Also in 2012 Virgin Money is aiding contributions to the event though its Virgin Money Giving website and is the title sponsor of the festival’s traditional closing fireworks festival event. The Virgin Money Fireworks Concert in 2012 will be a feast of patriotism and pageantry with breathtaking pyrotechnics and the magnificent historical backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.


It is being choreographed by international fireworks artists Pyrovision and celebrates this summer’s flagship events such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Festival’s Shakespearean offerings.


The sponsorship activation programme is also supported online, with the digital work primarily led by the brand’s Facebook page.


The banking brand, the financial services division of the Virgin Group, is also activating its rights through PR coverage and a slew of Virgin Money led articles in arts and culture magazines and newspaper sections (as well as pieces in the brand’s owned media such as Virgin Money Magazine).




Each August an astonishing four million people head to Edinburgh for the Festival. It’s actually six festivals in one: the Fringe, the International Festival, the Book Festival, the Jazz and Blues Festival, the Art Festival, the Mela and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.


Collectively, they boast 40,000 individual performances by more than 25,000 artists in more than 300 venues. Significantly, they contribute upwards of £261 million to the local economy.


The Fringe is the largest single element – indeed, it seems as if every spare broom cupboard and empty garage is co-opted into a Fringe venue.


It’s a logical focus for marketers targeting a certain demographic and the comedy silo (which makes up almost 40% of the Fringe shows on offer) has always been a big box office draw and a powerful proposition for sponsors. Historically, brands like Perrier and Foster’s have benefited from the high profile platform afforded by their sponsorship of the Fringe Comedy Awards.


2011 was the first year that Virgin Money sponsored the Fringe and its increased commitment to the festival in 2012 reflects the brand’s general growth and its specific ties with the city of Edinburgh.


In 2011 Virgin Money announced a deal to make 28 St Andrew Square, one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious business addresses, its new headquarters and since then the brand has used sponsorship as a means of building its investment in and ties to Edinburgh as a city and to its residents as well.


‘I am delighted that Virgin Money will be supporting the arts by sponsoring the Edinburgh Festival Fringe again in 2012,’ says Gahdia. ‘Our headquarters are based in Edinburgh and we have plans to grow significantly in the city. This sponsorship demonstrates our commitment to the City of Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole.’


The company also has offices in Norwich and London


Other major Virgin Money sponsorships include the title sponsor of the London Marathon and taking over Northern Rock’s shirt sponsorship deal with Newcastle United FC for the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons. Virgin Money are also title sponsor the Cyclone, one of the UK’s biggest cycling festivals.




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