The Situation: During the pandemic, Roncesvalles BIA wanted to make a big statement about the need for folks to shop local, without the luxury of a big media budget.

The Insight: When we spoke to residents, we realized that people had more urgency for shops that closed down, than shops that were about to close. Simply put, the absence of people’s favourite businesses triggered  a stronger rescue mindset, than its preservation.

The Solution: We decided to shock people by forcing them to experience the harsh reality that could happen to all of Roncesvalles. On Nov. 24, the second day of the new lockdown, “Roncy” residents woke up to the main street store windows covered in craft paper, with “For Lease” signs. Working together, the agency, BIA and small business owners created an arresting display that forced shoppers to viscerally experience the reality of the pandemic.

At noon, in a coordinated event, the store owners ripped off the paper to reveal the core campaign message underneath: to resist the lure of Amazon and support independent retailers. They also had federal and provincial members of Parliament attend and speak to the media. Instagram, including IG stories, was the primary social media channel used to drive awareness and spark conversations.

The Result: The reaction was incredible. While a few media outlets were invited to the 12 pm event, by 1pm every news agency in the city covered the story and turned it into National Story because it was such an impactful display. This media impact kept going for 72 hours, with more news teams arriving to cover the event.

Forty four press outlets ran stories, leading to nearly 255 million impressions and heightened awareness of just how high the stakes are for small businesses. While approximately 20% of the media coverage was organized, the rest happened organically due to the power of our event’s impact.

The Awards:

  • Shopper Innovation Award – Public Service: Original idea | Grand Prix
  • Shopper Innovation Award – Small budget, big impact | Gold
  • AToMiC Collaboration | Bronze
  • AToMiC Engagement | Bronze
  • AToMiC Best Experiential Engagement | Bronze
  • Effie Award – David vs. Goliath | Bronze
  • Effie Award – Small Budgets: Services | Bronze