Virgin Media
"The Digital High Street"

Client: Virgin Media
Product: The Big Issue
Title: The Digital High Street
Media: Twitter, The Big Issue website
Country: United Kingdom
Date Of Campaign: December 2020

Background: Reconnect Big Issue vendors with their livelihood, reconnect Virgin Media customers with their community For some people human connection means a neighbourly smile to brighten their day, but for others, it’s their livelihood. 2020 saw a 40% reduction in high street footfall which had a devastating impact on the income of our charity partner The Big Issue especially in the lead up to Christmas when high streets are usually busy. Big Issue vendors rely on the generosity of passers-by to alleviate poverty, but in a nation in and out of lockdown, those crucial moments of real-world connection were being missed every day. While we were offering financial support in the form of donations to regional Big Issue offices throughout December, we wanted to go above and beyond the traditional corporate support for our charity partnership. We wanted to do something bold to support Virgin Media’s mission, ‘building connections that really matter’, and help Big Issue vendors reconnect with lost customers in a new way. The pandemic may have kept people apart in 2020, but in the lead up to Christmas our desire to come together as a nation and support those in need was stronger than ever. We needed a powerful idea that would put the vendors themselves back in the spotlight, and therefore back on the nation’s radar as a collective in real need. By giving prospects and customers an opportunity to reconnect with their local community at Christmas, we sought to bridge the emotional gap between vendor and donor, inspiring brand love and positivity for Virgin Media along the way.

Idea: Spark moments of meaningful connection in a new setting With less opportunities to get out of the house, internet usage was soaring. In June, UK adults were spending more than ¼ of their waking day online – the highest on record. Maximising The Big Issue’s online presence would be key to raising awareness of the cause, and crucially, to inspire donations. As?the face to face?connections?that Big Issue vendors rely on were no longer possible due to the global pandemic, we recreated?those moments of humanity?in a place we knew people were managing to connect with one another –?social media. Grab attention, capture hearts Studies of donor behaviour show that people are more willing to give to individuals with names and faces than to an anonymous and nebulous group – the identifiable victim effect. Leveraging this effect, we gave the vendors themselves a platform to reconnect with potential donors and explain how The Big Issue Foundation was changing their lives for the better. We handed our official Virgin Media Twitter account over to The Big Issue. Working with them to repurpose our cover image, bio, profile picture and feed we created a Digital High Street,?where our 300,000+ followers could?‘meet’?individual vendors. It was a place for those vendors to tell personal stories of the most challenging year many of them had been through in a long time.? There were of course sad moments, but just as many of them shared moments of light and hope. And the whole takeover was punctuated by multiple calls to action to donate and subscribe to The Big Issue. There was a special focus on giving people the opportunity to find their local vendor and subscribe directly to them.? The whole thing was promoted through a Twitter Spotlight which pushed to our feed, along with a sponsored hashtag to help as many people as possible #RememberBigIssue, giving everyone outside our community a chance to join in.

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