Skegness adverts targeting rival seaside towns provoke widespread debate

East Lindsey District Council's advert promoting the SO Festival in Blackpool.
East Lindsey District Council's advert promoting the SO Festival in Blackpool.

A PROVOCATIVE advertising campaign championing Skegness’s cultural prestige above that of unfavourably portrayed rival resorts, has sparked widespread controversy and debate.

East Lindsey District Council launched its latest SO Festival advertising campaign in Blackpool and Brighton, today, featuring graffiti covered walls beside the resorts’ more iconic landmarks, accompanied by the strapline: “For sights you’ll want to remember, visit Skegness”

East Lindsey District Council's advert promoting the SO Festival in Brighton.

East Lindsey District Council's advert promoting the SO Festival in Brighton.

The council says the provocative imagery was designed to provoke debate and challenge the viewers’ conventional impression of Skegness by portraying the other towns from an alternative perspective rather than to insult the residents of those towns.

Communications team leader James Gilbert, who devised the new campaign, said: “Skegness is often compared to Brighton and Blackpool as a traditional resort but we want to challenge people’s perceptions and showcase the amazing art, culture, dance, theatre and music that is staged in the town.

“These adverts give a different view of Blackpool and Brighton and by highlighting these views we hope to entice people into having a look at what SO Festival and Skegness has to offer.”

Many comments about the adverts on the Standard’s facebook page, however, have questioned the council’s controversial approach, particularly as Skegness has been criticised in the past for its own unsightly areas.

“Those in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones,” Julie Drayton commented.

Others found the advert’s focus on the negatives of other resorts, rather than Skegness’s positives to be a strange sales pitch, but despite receiving more condemnation than praise a number of commenters have applauded it as a ‘brave and funny move’.

And although local papers in Blackpool and Brighton reused to print the advert, the resulting media coverage has succeeded in exposing Skegness to a wider audience.

ELDC leader Coun Doreen Stephenson is scheduled to make numerous TV and radio appearances on national and regional outlets, to discuss the advert and promote Skegness and the SO Festival to millions of potential visitors.

Mr Gilbert added: “It’s done what we set out to do - we did it to provoke a response, we’ve provoked that response and now we are talking about SO Festival and why Skegness is so marvellous on a much larger platform that would not have been possible otherwise.”

Skegness based digital artist John Byford, who took the photographs featured in both adverts, has also congratulated ELDC on having the courage to make such a provocative step.

He believes this more challenging approach to advertising is perfectly suited to promote an arts festival, which, in his opinion, is all about creating debate and provoking reaction.

He said: “The SO Festival is about art and at the end of the day, the images that I took represent urban art - it’s not meant to belittle those places - they are both great resorts but if I had taken a picture perfect postcard image, it wouldn’t have prompted the same coverage.

“I’d like to congratulate ELDC on having the balls to make this step - it’s taken a lot of courage for certain people to have given his the go ahead and I’m glad they have.”