According to news reports all over the place at the weekend, drinks giant Coca-Cola has produced a limited-edition glass bottle depicting an image of Robert Burns to mark the Year of Homecoming.
This is the first time an individual has been immortalised on a bottle of Coke from a design designated to one nation. More than 1million of the 330ml Homecoming bottles will be stocked by all major wholesalers and a number of hotel chains in the UK, including Macdonald Hotels, Barcello, Radisson and Gleneagles in Perthshire, until the end of the year.
Speaking at Gleneagles Hotel on news of the launch, First Minister Alex Salmond said he was delighted that Coca-Cola is backing the festival. He added: “This year we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remind our friends and family of everything that makes Scotland unique.
“This unique design for 2009 captures the spirit of that celebration and is a fantastic way of translating our heritage and identity into the language of popular culture.”
But there's the rub Alex and you're guilty of doing it again and again and again. The golf tourism industry promoted Scotland as a must play, once in a lifetime golfing destination and they played. Mostly once. By suggesting that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity is an absolutely crazy tourism strategy. Homecoming is for life not just for elections. Let's use the themes that have been tested (if not fully implemented) to build on the whole concept of coming home to Scotland - perhaps for the next decade. 2010 - 150 years since the first Open was played at Prestwick; 2014 we've got The Commonwealth Games and The Ryder Cup; for heavens sake we've even got the 225th Anniversary of the death of Robert Burns to celebrate in 2021!
Homecoming has not achieved its primary objective of bringing new tourism business to Scotland but that does not mean that the concept is wrong. On this occasion we should be building on its secondary PR successes and looking to roll out elements of Homecoming for the longer term.
Let's look at what we have to celebrate over the next ten years and plan for it to ensure that the Coca Cola bottle for 2010 with that bearded old Gentleman (Tom Morris not Santa) is out in plenty of time to promote the first Open at Prestwick!!
Now there's an idea for the people at Coke - a Scottish collection....
And just in case the title was a little obtuse here's the Burns Poem "
A Bottle And Friend
There's nane that's blest of human kind,
But the cheerful and the gay, man,
Fal, la, la, &c.
Here's a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be o' care, man?
Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not aye when sought, man.