In a one-night ad-break takeover, several major brands donated their Channel 4 airtime to local businesses to mark ‘The Great Highstreet Comeback’. With people expecting big corporations to play a role in economic recovery, there’s room for them to partner with local brands in an authentic way. We explore the insights behind this, and what it means for consumers to see big brands help small businesses survive the pandemic.
Six major brands including Coca-Cola, American Express, and Lloyds bank gifted their airtime to six local businesses, from an alpaca farm in Glasgow to a florist in Maidenhead. The aim of the ad-break takeover was to raise the profile of these SMEs and show that the British high street has reopened. “At a time when community has taken on a new importance, this bespoke ad-break takeover will take a positive local message to a national audience,” says Jonathan Lewis, head of digital and partnership innovation at Channel 4. “We are delighted to be playing our part in encouraging the public to support local business, get back out on the high street, and ultimately get back shopping.”
As they navigate the pandemic, many people have come to realise that the government itself cannot fix every issue – 55% of Britons feel that CEOs should take the lead on addressing it instead of waiting for government action. People are also keen to see big brands use their power to help smaller companies survive the virus, with only 29% believing that businesses are doing a good job of helping SMEs and their customers. At a time when online retailers are booming (Amazon has generated more money during lockdown than during Christmas), shoppers need incentives to shop IRL, leaving local brick-and-mortar stores feeling the pinch. In the US, Amex and Budweiser have also been using their influence to encourage consumers to get back out to local stores.
Louis Tozer is a behavioural analyst of social sciences at Canvas8. He holds a master's degree in history from UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies and was formerly a research assistant at the Institute of Philosophy and Social Theory in Belgrade. He can often be found in the pub with friends or at Roots Hall, the home of Southend United.