Case Studies & Resources


These shoes were made for dancing!

Culture partner | The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Business partner | Thistle Shoes Scotland

The project
Inspired by a small show called There’s Something About a Soldier, originally performed at the Ross Bandstand in 1949 and followed by The King’s Men on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, The Royal Military Tattoo has become one of the world’s favourite events. Bringing together the best British and International Military performances for a unique show performed on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle each summer, the Tattoo was awarded its Royal title in 2010 by Queen Elizabeth II and now runs every weekday evening throughout the busy Edinburgh Festival season in August, with two shows on a Saturday. Now attracting a live audience of over 220,000 people with live broadcasts reaching an audience of a further 100 million people, it is one of the world’s biggest, as well as most spectacular, events.

The partnership 

Over 900 of the world’s most talented performers make up the cast of the Tattoo and, among those, are a group of 50 highly experienced, traditional Scottish dancers. The demands of so many performances, 26 over a relatively short period of time, has – not surprisingly – a huge impact on the dancers’ physical wellbeing as well as their costumes and especially their shoes. When planning the 2023 Tattoo, the 73rd in the event’s history, a decision was made to explore potential partnerships with key Scottish manufacturers of dance shoes. A deal was struck with Glenrothes-based Thistle Shoes Scotland who jumped at the opportunity (anecdotally, asking why they hadn’t been approached sooner!) to provide custom fitted shoes for the dancers at the 2023 Tattoo as in-kind sponsorship. This allowed the Tattoo to redirect budget towards the wellbeing of the dancers in the form of physio support for any strains picked up, as well as reduced accommodation costs and discounted leisure centre access.

The Positive Outcomes
Undoubtedly, the partnership played a significant part in the successful delivery of the Tattoo with one of the key performer groups being more fully supported and rewarded than ever before. The additional services and kit provided to the dancers through the sponsorship meant that the Tattoo organisers could focus on the performers’ wellbeing at a much deeper level without having an impact on the event budget.

For Thistle Shoes Scotland, the partnership raised their profile as a major contributor to the world’s biggest celebration of Scottish culture and offered invaluable marketing opportunities, including being able to carry Tattoo branding on their product packaging. Commercially, they have reported an uplift in sales during and directly after the Tattoo. The success of 2023 has led to an extension of the partnership and an exciting collaborative approach to dance shoe development. Both parties are now working together to design and launch the ‘Tattoo Shoe’ – a durable, all-weather shoe that can handle the high intensity of several performance on an unforgiving concrete floor.

The agreement between the Tattoo and Thistle Shoes has proven to be the perfect partnership which helped celebrate and support our world famous highland dancers, improving the visual impact of the performance and the experience for each individual performer.
James Robertson, Commercial Partnerships Manager |The Royal Military Tattoo
In essence, the quantifiable benefits extend beyond the monetary value of the shoes, encompassing exposure, brand image, networking opportunities, and intangible contributions to the community. We developed a great partnership with our culture partner, who have agreed we can utilise their logo on our products and website, which will increase our brand awareness and sales both from a UK and International level. There was also a great opportunity to network at one of their many organised event sessions with their other sponsors, which may result in further partnerships.
Pamela McDowall, Managing Director | Thistle Shoes Scotland

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