CAMPAIGN: Rain fashions a £6m boost for the West End

Last year, NWEC organised the first traffic-free day for both Oxford Street and Regent Street on Saturday 2 December, and appointed Rain Communications to handle a six-month campaign to promote the West End in the run-up to Christmas.

Bare-faced shoppers: this stunt at Oxford Circus was a precursor to  the main event
Bare-faced shoppers: this stunt at Oxford Circus was a precursor to the main event

Campaign: Shop West End VIP Day
Client: New West End Company
PR Team:  Rain Communications UK
Timescale: October – December 2006
Budget: Undisclosed

New West End Company (NWEC) is the voice of the business community in London’s West End, representing businesses in Bond Street, Oxford Street and Reg­ent Street. The area attracts 40 million shoppers who spend about a billion pounds over the six-week festive period.

To generate awareness of the date, help boost footfall and use the traffic-free day to raise the profile and improve the image of the West End in the press. To position the West End as a major shopping destination and NWEC as a commentator for Christmas-related trading coverage opportunities.

Strategy and plan
Rain UK dubbed the day ‘Shop West End VIP Day’ – the VIP standing for ‘very important pedestrians’ – to set it apart from the street closures that had taken place previously.

At the beginning of November, the Rain UK team, led by agency MD Delia Hyde, arranged a stunt at Oxford Circus involving ‘bare-faced shoppers’ wearing little more than glossy shopping bags.

On the morning of the VIP Day, a photo call was organised at Oxford Circus. Mayor Ken Livingstone was joined by Gary Reeves (NWEC), Charlie Mayfield (John Lewis), Paul Kelly (Selfridges), Nick Mather (Hamleys) and Peter Doherty (House of Fraser). The mayor and the retailers were joined by all the Santas from the West End stores.

Several London broadcast packages appeared during the days leading up to the event. They included interviews with retailers and spokesperson Jace Tyrrell.

Rain UK booked two photographers to take a variety of images on the day. Places on the second and third floors of shops were secured in advance of the day for the most important photographers and a ladder was provided on Oxford Street so photographers could take crowd shots.

Measurement and evaluation
A hundred retailers were involved in the campaign, hosting 150 events and giving away more than 1,000 different prizes. According to in-house evaluation, AEV for the day amounted to £2.8m with an estimated reach of 50 million – more than 60 articles and 17 broadcast slots covered the traffic-free day. Images of the naked models were picked up in Metro, The Mirror, The Independent, the Evening Standard, London Lite and thelondonpaper, and there was extensive regional, trade and website coverage.

Riding high on the high profile of Shop West End VIP, NWEC commented extensively over the festive period on retail-related stories in prime Boxing Day news slots.

A record one million shoppers visited London’s West End on the day; with an incremental spend of £6m. Footfall figures were 37 per cent up on the previous Saturday and 17 per cent higher than those for the same day in 2005.

In an independent survey carried out by Visit London, 46 per cent of shoppers said they had heard about the Shop West End VIP Day through media coverage.


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