You can’t have failed to have noticed the arrival of two immigrants this week as they settle into their new home in Scotland; the little faces of Tian Tian and Yang Guang have been selling papers.
Ever since the news broke that the two bears would be setting up home in Edinburgh Zoo the panda PR machine went into over drive. Just since leaving China the two eight year olds have been in the hands of two separate PR agencies. And they’ve been working them hard – this week the media has been fed with so many panda images you would be forgiven for thinking that your television was still a black and white set.
Last year I was lucky enough to visit China, and having stayed in Chengdu, the home of the Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre, I can completely understand why the media is a-buzz with what the pair’s arrival could mean for Scottish tourism. Chengdu is a city that is built around it’s relationship with pandas – even the traffic signs are in the shape of the fuzzy creatures – so it makes me wonder what Scotland could have in store. The duo’s arrival on the “FedEx Panda Express” was just the beginning of the marketing and PR opportunities that the giant pandas inhabitants of Edinburgh Zoo will offer Scotland over the next decade.
I love them, but I won’t forget that pandas are PR animals.