Creative Awards Case Studies Brand Purpose

Inside the Virgin Media campaign that reconnected Big Issue vendors with the public


By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

April 21, 2022 | 4 min read

Rapp won the ‘Best Paid Social’ category at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising 2022 with work for The Big Issue. Here, we find out more about what went into this successful project.

Big Issue

Eight days before Christmas, Virgin Media handed over its official Twitter account to the Big Issue to create Twitter Street

In 2020, Big Issue vendors were losing £100,000 in donations each week. And their biggest sales period – the run up to Christmas – was obliterated by lockdown. So, when the public couldn’t get to the high street, how could the charity bring the high street to them?

The brief

With fewer opportunities to get out of the house, internet usage was soaring. And with the face-to-face connections that Big Issue vendors rely on no longer possible, Rapp recreated those moments of humanity in a place it knew people were managing to connect with one another – social media.

The idea

With 350,000 followers, Virgin Media had the power to connect vendors with a huge new audience. While the brand had already been offering financial support in the form of donations to regional Big Issue offices throughout December, it wanted to go above and beyond the traditional corporate support for its charity partnership.

Eight days before Christmas, Virgin Media handed over its official Twitter account to the Big Issue to create Twitter Street, a place where vendors could reconnect with the customers (and the sales they were sorely missing). It gave vendors the chance to make eye contact again, get up close and tell their personal stories.

There was a special focus on giving people the opportunity to find their local vendor and subscribe directly to them, and the public immediately took action. The campaign was promoted through a Twitter Spotlight that pushed to Virgin’s feed, along with a sponsored hashtag to help as many people as possible #RememberBigIssue, giving everyone outside its community a chance to join in.

The results

One in three customers walked down Twitter Street, many buying online and switching to a more profitable subscription model.

The campaign achieved over 25m impressions in 24 hours and drove two months’ worth of traffic to the Big Issue in one day. It generated a life-changing increase in donations for vendors, rising by an incredible 79%.

Through the use of the ‘Find your local vendor’ functionality, the campaign successfully reconnected customers with their local Big Issue vendors and generated a 320% increase in the number of direct magazine subscriptions sold. It made celebrating Christmas a reality for Big Issue vendors at what can be an extremely difficult time of year.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising 2022. Click here to find out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.

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