Judges on the panel for the Marketing Star Awards have selected Caledonian MacBrayne, together with the agencies it worked with, for no less than six nominations at the 2017 ceremony.

All three of the company’s major campaigns in 2016 have been recognised, including Mates Rates, the Two Eejits and Your West Coast.

In addition, CalMac’s campaign manager Amanda Burns has been nominated as Rising Marketing Star.

Amanda joined CalMac in January 2015 as digital marketing executive, before moving to campaigns. The award recognises the career development of young professionals and, in Amanda’s case at CalMac, this has built on her successful studies and first job with a small third-sector organisation. She developed CalMac’s social media channels rapidly gaining both increased engagement and new followers, and followed this with a secondment as campaign manager. She has been responsible for the launch of four different campaigns, including three of those nominated elsewhere at the awards.

She is affectionately known at work as the ‘office marketing geek’ due to her love and knowledge of all things digital – whether that be promotion, measurement or development of new and alternative access to markets.

The three shortlisted projects revolved around three distinct themes – first of all capturing the great value for money of the road equivalent tariff (RET) prices and how the fall in fare prices was tantamount to Mates Rates for all and a more disruptive, unconventional campaign aimed at the notoriously difficult millennial market exploring how easy, inexpensive and fun it is to reach Scotland’s west coast by ferry.

By contrast, the third campaign in conjunction with Glasgow-based Frame agency, was, unusually, not about revenue generation – it was firmly aimed at producing a landmark short film at a difficult juncture in CalMac’s history, as the company waited to find out whether or not it had won the £1 billion bid competition to continue to run Scotland’s west coast services; services which it had been running for 165 years. A mark of celebration regardless of the outcome of the tender – a point in time which could have marked the parting of the ways for the western Highlands and islands with one of Scotland’s most iconic brands.

This video, set to the stirring Home on the Sea song by traditional music band Skipinnish, focused on locations and buildings across the area – some great, some small; many well-kent, others little known; what they all had in common was resonance and recognition within their own communities and underlined CalMac’s exceptionally strong links with the fabric of the areas it serves.

Much praised by the public on its release, the video became CalMac’s most viewed and shared piece of online content ever with almost 1 million views – many of the comments online were not only admiring, but also emotional, underlining that the content had really hit the right balance between nostalgia and modern relevance within the context of a much-loved brand.

Meanwhile, the significant reduction in fares across the 200-mile long network due to RET gave rise to Mates Rates – a campaign aimed at raising awareness of great value travel to the islands and their proximity; again in conjunction with Frame agency.

The target for the project was a three to one return on investment, but this was far out-stripped, by five to one returns.

The final advertising piece was the more controversial Two Eejits campaign – aimed at the elusive, hard-to-please millennials, it was a complete break from the norm in terms of CalMac’s more traditional approach in other projects.

This time, the company worked with The Lane Agency in Edinburgh to take the rather irreverent Eejits out and about in the Scottish islands and Highlands – outside their usual city comfort zone, the series of short films follows the capers of the pair, guided by CalMac representative Brian Ferry (a dapper, tweed-clad hand puppet) as he shows the duo that it is inexpensive and easy to explore Scotland's west coast.

And it did seem to hit the right note, being viewed more than 430,000 times online and delivering almost a four times return on investment.

“It has been an absolutely huge year for CalMac, particularly in the run up to the bid announcement,” said CalMac’s marketing manager Peter Griffiths. “The part our various campaigns played in the year was important and successful, and we are proud to find these projects shortlisted for such an array of awards.

“We have good relationships with both Frame and the Lane agencies and their innovation alongside our individual creative briefs has been excellent.”

CalMac’s full list of nominations is as follows:
· Digital Strategy – Two Eejits with The Lane Agency and also for Your West Coast with Frame
· Advertising – Mates Rates with Frame Agency
· Digital Communication – Two Eejits with The Lane Agency
· Tourism, Leisure & Sport – Mates Rates with Frame Agency
· Rising Marketing Star – Amanda Burns, CalMac campaigns manager

The ceremony will take place in Glasgow on June 7.