2020 Finalist
The Big Issue

The Big Issue

The Big Issue Group

London, United Kingdom

Category COVID-19 Campaigns

Overview of this campaign

The Big Issue is a weekly magazine, sold by vulnerable people as a way to earn a living and help them out of poverty.

As a result of Covid- 19, we had to ask our vendors to stop selling for the foreseeable future, meaning our income and theirs vanished overnight.

Within days, we adapted our business model to save the organisation and to offer a level of support to our vendors through this crisis.

We created an appeal fund, to generate financial support from the public. As with normal magazine street sales, 50% of proceeds from these initiatives went straight to the vendors.

We also launched a subscription business, which was up and running within hours. We also pushed the option to download a digital edition through Zinio and buy copies through The Big Issue Shop.

We brokered deals with leading retailers to sell the magazine in store for the first ever time.

We worked with Pugpig, on a pro-bono basis, to develop The Big Issue app, to allow people to buy and subscribe digitally, providing readers with a high-quality digital edition and an additional curated content feed.

Through the magazine, web and app content we launched a new commercial proposition “The Big Community”, providing a means to celebrate organisations that are creating meaningful impact for society through partnership.

We have worked hard to evolve the magazine content to drive increased appeal for the publication, drawing in celebrity support at short-notice. The covers have been designed with bright colours and arresting headline text, to grab the attention of consumers in retail outlets and encourage both shoppers and subscribers to share on their social channels.

We created a huge media and social drive for the appeal with our Founder John Bird as the key spokesperson for the campaign. We have created a series of social campaigns to generate continued longevity for the appeal with our audience base and communicate our new news and the impact delivered with the appeal funds.

Results for this campaign

We are an incredibly small organisation, with a smaller team and many staff furloughed. We have moved quickly to deliver some outstanding results.

In just under 7 weeks, we have delivered the following results:

-          We’ve sold over 8k subscriptions

-          Had over 8k consumers contribute financially to our appeal

-          Delivered 3k App downloads

-          Sold over 8k copies of the magazine through retailers

-          Secured major brand and corporate support, through new sponsorship and branded content activations through ‘The Big Community’ online hub

-          The total PR reach for the full campaign period is 5 Billion with over 3,000 pieces of coverage, including BBC Radio 4 Today, Channel 4 News, BBC News and BBC World News and a number of national newspapers (print and online). 

-          With solely organic reach, we’ve delivered 4m impressions, 200k social engagements and driven an increase of 13% traffic to our site

We’ve created a whole new audience base and business to support our vendors whilst they are no longer able to sell magazines on the street and kept The Big Issue alive.

In total in just under 7 weeks, we have managed to support over 2,000 vendors in the following ways:

  • Through a mass dispersal of supermarket vouchers
  • We have paid to top up electric and gas keys where needed in order to keep vendors warm and fed
  • We are working to provide ongoing social and emotional support at this challenging and lonely time.
  • A key part of our work is helping vendors to understand and access all of the support services available to them at this time, such as access to universal credit. This kind of support is more crucial now than ever before.


To contact a company representative about this campaign, click here for the INMA Member Directory

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