One of the immediate challenges following the lifting of lockdown was to encourage visitors back into Westminster. Our Shop Local campaign was helping local businesses in the borough catering for the needs of residents, but many businesses relied on the footfall from the thousands of visitors who were staying away from the West End.
Our idea was to turn the negative into a positive: this was the ideal time to visit the West End because there were no crowds. We created the campaign line, See The West End Like Never Before, which was used across all materials, and the hashtag, #SightseeCrowdFree.
Rather than use photography of empty streets, we went back to iconic London Underground posters from the 1930s for inspiration. With the new tube lines then reaching the suburbs for the first time, London Underground ran illustrated posters encouraging suburban Londoners to travel to the West End to see the sights. Using this graphic style we produced illustrations of visitors enjoying quiet and peaceful West End destinations.
The social media campaign launched in mid-August 2020 and ran for six weeks. During this time it was shared by local business organisations, local MPs, celebrities and influencers. We also created video content for use by Westminster and its partner organisations.
The campaign was very successful. The Sightsee Crowd Free webpage on the Westminster website was viewed more than 5,000 times in six weeks and the social media posts generated more than 26,000 click-throughs. The video content was viewed a total of more than 3,600 times.
The media picked up on the story with a full-page story on page three of the Evening Standard the day before launch, with mentions in other news outlets included Radio London, LBC, Metro and Metro.co.uk.
Mobile phone GPS tracking data showed a sharp rise in visitors coinciding with the campaign’s launch, peaking at a 38% increase. Visitors from the home counties increased by more than 50% over the period the campaign ran.