The story of why Bombay Sapphire opened a supermarket at the Design Museum
Ogilvy PR (with AMV BBDO and the Design Museum) won the ‘Most effective use of creative’ category at The Drum Awards for PR 2021 with its campaign for Bombay Sapphire. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveal the secrets of this successful project...
The pandemic forced us to make decisions on what we deem essential. The arts & culture sector was deprioritised. Galleries were the first to shut and the last to reopen. Thousands of creatives lost their livelihoods.
Bombay Sapphire saw an opportunity to set a precedent for how brands can behave in times like this. In the year that turned out to be devastating for the creative community, Bombay Sapphire wanted to show their support and demonstrate their belief that creativity is an essential part of being human.
Our strategy was born out of what was happening around us. In 2020, 90% of the world’s museums had to close, with 13% of museums concerned they would never reopen (Source: UNESCO). This restriction to creativity was detrimental for everyone and it’s been scientifically proven that creativity can make us feel fulfilled and happy. For Bombay Sapphire’s target audience known as Expressionists, who relentlessly pursue new sources of inspiration and discovery, we needed to do something. The notion of ‘creativity begets creativity’ sat at the heart of our brief - the more you see around you, the more inspired you will be. Our strategy needed to rally our audience around the idea that creativity is absolutely essential.
Creativity had been jeopardised in the wake of Covid. Galleries closed as they were not deemed ‘essential’, negatively impacting creative communities. But essential shops were allowed to open. So Bombay Sapphire turned The Design Museum into a supermarket, allowing it to reopen despite pandemic restrictions.
We collaborated with 10 emerging artists to turn essential items into artworks – from rice to loo roll to fruit and veg - all at supermarket prices, making art accessible to all. And all proceeds from sales went towards supporting artists through the Design Museum’s new Emerging Artists’ Access Fund – a ‘pay it forward’ scheme that gives up and coming artists and designers free access to Design Museum exhibitions, talks and events, including networking and mentoring events, supported by Bombay Sapphire.
When the question of what qualified as ‘essential’ was brought into sharp relief by the pandemic, we championed the idea that creativity truly is essential – bringing our message to life by finding a loophole that allowed us to reopen a museum as an essential shop. It is, at its core, a PR stunt idea, with a compelling earned narrative that engaged media across news and culture. By bringing a creative experience to the public when arts spaces were still shut, we had a PR story that was rooted in culture but with a human truth at its heart – that creativity is an essential part of life.
Visitors and money raised
- Supermarket was open for 5 days between 21 April and 25 April 2021.
- It was visited by 25,867 people, online and instore.
- By the end of the week, Supermarket had completely sold out of all products (with online stock selling out after just 8 hours).
- £115,000 was raised for the Design Museum and The Emerging Designers Access Fund.
- We achieved 66 pieces of top tier print and online coverage including The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, Time Out, The Evening Standard, Vanity Fair and Wallpaper.
- Plus 7 broadcast hits including Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast London, BBC London News and Sky News.
- Total campaign reach is 31,811,160 (Cision digital reach).
- Our impact measure and key message delivery were both 97%.
- We took the #1 spot for share of voice in both the UK and Western Europe during the period that Supermarket was open.
- 84.01mn total impressions.
- 29.09mn total reach.
- 94% positive sentiment on IG.
- Social media referrals to the Design Museum website 20,764.
“A rather clever trick to experience art close up without breaking any rules. With cultural institutions closed, this is the only way the museum could open” - BBC News
“It's a great idea and I love the look of the products - such a clever way to raise money for artists and get more art into kitchens” - Lisa Markwell, The Times
This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for PR 2021. To find out which Drum Awards are currently open for entry, click here.
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