A new billboard campaign for the Big Issue, I’m Here, uses geolocation technology to show where the magazine’s vendors can be found.
The campaign was created by London-based agency Forever Beta in partnership with digital ad platform specialists Ocean Outdoor, having been one of the winners in its annual Digital Creative Competition, which celebrates and facilitates new and creative digital out-of-home ideas.
I’m Here aims to support Big Issue vendors after the difficulties they have faced over the last two years and reconnect them with their local community by using technology to give them “the biggest voice possible”.
Sited in Westfield London shopping centre as a pilot earlier this month, I’m Here sees Big Issue vendors’ jackets fitted with a GPS beacon which is connected to a billboard display. When a vendor is close to the billboard screen, a ‘supersized version’ of them is shown on that screen, which then points to their location to let customers find them easily. If the vendor is busy, the magazine can be purchased from them using a QR code shown on the digital screen.
“We started by redesigning the iconic red Big Issue vest to incorporate a geolocation beacon that allows vendors to interact with outdoor media in a whole new way,” says Paulo Areas, chief creative officer at Forever Beta. “Every vendor becomes a powerful advertisement, increasing their reach and visibility…. Vendors aren’t just salespeople. They thrive on meeting others and becoming a recognisable face within a community.
“We couldn’t make this a faceless brand campaign: we needed to champion the characters, not just a red vest in a crowd,” he continues. “That’s what we responded to most when we met our vendors, so it was important that we featured that and allowed the audience to see these amazing individuals.”
Areas says that while digital tech is the ‘mechanic’ for the campaign, the driving idea is about human connection. “Traditional OOH media brings impact, but very little human connection. When you integrate digital technology into it we can bridge that gap,” he says. “It allows us to create a connection between the people on the street and the vendors who want to connect with them — using all the impact that traditional OOH media holds.”
Following the pilot, which featured three placements around busy Westfield pedestrian zones, it’s hoped that the campaign will be rolled out across more major cities in the UK.