Meet Vitamin and Fivla: the faces of Scottish tourism, internet stars, Shetland ponies

Who would have thought that two cardigan-wearing ponies parading about would have attracted such interest?

Following the photo shoot by VisitScotland for the launch of its 2013 campaign, the ‘Year of Natural Scotland’, the tourism body has been “inundated with requests for footage of Vitamin and Fivla”, it said in a media release. The Shetland ponies, who sport cardigans made from Shetland wool (from Shetland sheep, not ponies) are now the faces of a campaign that seeks to inspire the people of Scotland and visitors to celebrate the country’s natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity.

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The significance of the event was not lost on the world’s media with CNN, Nickelodeon, ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s The Today Show all clambering to beam footage of the pair to the world. But through the power of YouTube, Marketing is able to bring you the ad starring the Shetland-wearing Shetlands right here, right now:

Wearing Fair Isle jumpers hand-knitted by Shetland designer Doreen Brown, the ad features a homage of sorts to Bob Dylan’s cue card antics in his 1965 film-clip for the classic Dylan hit, Subterranean Homesick Blues.

With requests for footage of Vitamin and Fivla continuing to fly in from around the globe, Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland is more than satisfied with the branding exercise for Scottish tourism, an industry that accounts for roughly £11 billion annually and 10% of employment.

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“With Shetland wool and knitwear being so in demand, this seemed like a fun way to celebrate Shetland’s natural landscapes, products and heritage,” he says.

The campaign has been developed to promote the ‘Year of Natural Scotland’ and has gone hugely viral since the clip launched this month with The Huffington Post and Conde Nast Traveler among those tweeting VisitScotland’s pictures. The Today Show also tweeted the images of the ponies to its 1.5 million followers.

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Frances Taylor, who co-owns Thordale (where the animals are housed) with business partner Jo Tonkinson says: “My friends have been inundating me with links to our ponies online – we’ve gone global,” she says. “Fivla grew up in my house, literally, and we used to take her on walks with the dog.”

While Taylor has embraced the ideology behind the campaign she does stipulate that “people should remember that we are professionals and it’s not something that should be tried ‘at home'”.

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