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More than window dressing: how CosmosDirekt helped German small business survive lockdown

CosmosDirekt won ‘Best Use of Location’ at The Drum Awards for Out Of Home in 2021, with a site-specific project that provided income to closed local businesses while telling the stories of shop-owners. Here, the team behind the campaign explains the inspiration behind it, and the strategy used to create this pandemic lifeline.

Covid-19 lockdown hit our favorite little stores especially hard, with many livelihoods at stake. The German Retail Association (HDE) expects the loss of up to 120,000 shops and devastating consequences for the city centers.

CosmosDirekt’s brand promise - ‘Protect What You Love’ - couldn’t get more socially relevant than during the crisis of the pandemic. This was the perfect opportunity live up to that promise, by helping actively and directly.

Idea

To help the suffering stores in a quick and direct way, we booked their abandoned shop windows as paid advertising space. That’s how ‘Ads for Good’ was born.

They presented a unique way to make our CosmosDirekt brand promise come true in the shop windows of small stores across Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin and Saarbrücken. We focused especially on all the little beloved stores without a big company behind them – independents like hairdressers, small fashion boutiques, restaurants, bars, toy shops and many more.

Strategy and Execution

The strategy behind ‘Ads for Good’ was as unconventional as the idea itself. One of the biggest challenges was the media planning, because obviously there wasn’t classic media planning in place for the booking of the shop windows. The only way was via location scouting and randomly calling or emailing the stores.

We approached shop owners in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt and Saarbrücken, to see if we could support them. Once the first shop windows were covered with our ads and the media money was paid to the owners, our goal was to reach as many people as possible with the message behind it. We also asked people on social media to share with us their favorite stores, so we could help those next.

Numbers and Results

From February 16th till early April 2021, 110 shops participated, and each store earned 1,000 Euros for a ten-day booking of the shop window - a total of 110,000 Euros.

We not only focused on our message on the shop windows, but on the stories and faces behind those windows. With emotional interview portraits of five store owners, we expanded the campaign to social media, online video, display ads and primetime TV spots. In this way we generated around 35,000,000 media contacts and drew additional attention to the challenges face small stores, and also turned our brand promise into a call to action for the whole of Germany.

In addition, nationwide press and media reported about our campaign and therefore carried our campaign even further with 70 mentions and a potential additional reach of 11 million contacts.

As well as the press echo, social media showed that the message behind ‘Ads for Good’ reached and touched thousands of people, who liked, shared and commented on the campaign (more than 25,000 Likes).

So above all, these results reflect the emotional outcome: the ads became messages of hope and courage, underlining the CosmosDirekt motto once again.

Relevance and Impact

There are few ideas where the brand purpose is so directly linked to the idea and vice versa. The motto ‘Protect What You Love’ not only inspired ‘Ads for Good’, but against the backdrop of the pandemic, became a timely and important message. That message applied not only to the small stores suffering in lockdown, but to these difficult times in general. Our brand promise couldn’t be more relevant to the zeitgeist.

And to be able to prove and underline this in this way with the ‘Ads for Good’ and, above all, to help directly and actively, fills us with joy and pride. Because this is about more than just an advertising campaign. It is about a brand that really and truly stands by people with a lived promise.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Out Of Home. To find out more, including which competitions are currently open for entry, visit The Drum Awards website.

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