The Big Lunch: A Nationwide Call to Action
The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours – an idea from the Eden Project, made possible by the Big Lottery. The brief for the 2016 PR campaign asked us to do three things: tell the social impact story of the Big Lunch: the positive effects of communities uniting over the most essential act of eating, grow participation and awareness of the Big Lunch, and increase the amount of lunches that were organized.
Our strategy was to widely communicate how Big Lunches connect communities and improve the lives of the participants. What was needed was a six-month campaign with multiple peaks to ensure we could keep momentum going and awareness high in the run up to the event on June 12th. To reach a mass audience, the campaign also needed to work across all media channels and platforms. Our integrated campaign was developed to capture the interest of the media, disrupt the audience and appeal to their emotions.
We had some fantastic assets – inspirational case studies and ambassadors, and The Big Lunch and Big Lunch Extras teams with their expertise and insight into project. We ran a media centre throughout the campaign, using news hooks, such as International Happiness Day and Age UK’s report into loneliness in the elderly, to create stories for the media utilising our existing assets.
To supplement this, we developed three campaign pillars, each designed to create new assets which would be activated throughout the campaign period.
First we launched our Eating Together study in April, which combined new research and expert comment on how often we eat with others. Our discovery that almost half of all meals in the UK are eaten alone, leading to feelings of social isolation, was revealed through an impactful news release and radio day with the author of the study, Professor Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist from Oxford University, and Peter Stewart, CEO of The Big Lunch. It led to more than 200 pieces of national and regional print coverage, and 18 high quality radio interviews.
Our second pillar was the digitally-led Map of Human Warming, activated in May. Using The Big Lunch pack registration info for the past five years, we created a visual showing the ‘hottest’ areas in the UK – the ones that had had the most Big Lunches. This was a lighthearted, fun story, but there was a serious thread as we used it to explain the concept of Human Warming – what happens when neighbours get to know each other, friendships blossom and community bonds strengthen. It made a great regional and national story, plus and the visual map was perfect for social platforms. The result was features in the Telegraph, Times and the i.
The final pillar was Paws for the Big Lunch photocall. Capitalising on the nation’s love for man’s best friend, we commissioned new research which revealed that 52% say that having a dog improves relationships in the community and dog owners have on average three friends originating directly from having their pet. We arranged a special Big Lunch for dogs and owners in Bermondsey Street, London which resulted in some fabulous photographs that featured in the Daily Express online, Huffington Post, DogNews, DogsMonthly and a spread of regional titles.
For the big day itself, we supported The Big Lunch’s regional managers, setting up photocalls in Cornwall, Bristol, Hackney and the Isle of Wight. We also ran a Wild Card Buzz Room to support the event – engaging with key influencers and undertaking social listening beforehand, and creating and amplifying content on the day. The results were fantastic, with 8,892% increase in reach and over 3,000 mentions across all social channels. The Big Lunch images and key messages featured in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and MailOnline.