Five Big Issue vendors worked with M&C Saatchi to conceive and create the adverts.
M&C Saatchi says it worked solely with small businesses throughout the process, including independent typographer Stephen Kenny, who created the artwork using 19th Century letter-press machines.
Lara McCullagh, marketing and communications director at the Big Issue, says, ‘It’s a popular misconception that Big Issue vendors are the recipients of charity, when in fact each vendor is the proprietor of a small, local business. So it made perfect sense that they should be given the opportunity to market that business.’
The campaign looks to raise awareness of the vendors as independent retailers, positioning the magazine as a social enterprise business model that gives homeless people an opportunity to earn a legitimate income rather than its common misconception as a charity.
Every vendor buys each magazine for £1.25, and sells it for £2.50. As such, the individual seller is responsible for dealing with challenges such as cash flow, product marketing, customer relations and competition.
One of the participants, Glasgow based vendor Ian Blair, says, ‘This has been a great opportunity to put across my attitude to my business. I’ve always viewed selling the magazine as a job – I put in the hours, manage my finances carefully, and try to build a rapport with my customers.
‘I hope as a result of the campaign more people will realise that vendors are working, not relying on hand-outs.’
The Support Local Business campaign is running across national press, online and outdoor, targeting the hometowns of the five vendors, for a two-week period.