• Transform magazine
  • November 22, 2019


Focus: Drowned and delivered

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Needing to raise the stakes around the resilience of small businesses, Business in the Community worked with McCann Enterprise on a campaign that brought its messaging to life, before destroying it, in a series of emotive, immersive animations

They drowned it. They shattered it. They hacked it. They burnt it. McCann Enterprise literally destroyed its messaging in partnership with Business in the Community for the ‘Would you be ready?’ campaign.

Focusing on the development of resilience among UK small businesses and building the awareness of those organisations to Business in the Community’s (BITC) resources regarding resilience, McCann Enterprise had to be creative. It had to get a message across about the disasters that could destroy or damage a business without straying toward cliché in terms of imagery.

Instead of filming a flood overtaking a storefront or developing a CGI execution of a flooding business, McCann made the creative real. “The headlines here were the driving force for the creative execution. The messaging really needed to hit hard,” says creative director Paula Amaral. “It would’ve been a lot easier to do this in CGI, but because we felt that this is something that happens for real, in the real world, we wanted to have that connection of really destroying or manipulating our type as it was happening in a real space. We thought that was far more interesting creative execution.”

McCann Enterprise turned to typography to lead the way. Crafting a tone of voice that would be hard-hitting, emotive and have resonance with its audience, the words were made into physical 3D blocks of type. McCann worked with BITC to identify four key risks to small businesses: flooding, fire, civil unrest and cyber attack. The goal was to start the conversation around resilience among the small business community. BITC’s call to action was an online test identifying risks. Business leaders could take the test and then download resources to help them address those risks. The biggest challenge was overcoming the sense of complacency, of disregard, for the risks posed to small businesses.

To address that indifference, the messaging had to hit hard.

That, it most definitely did. Each of the four risks was given a headline, which was rendered in physical type, and then altered and damaged. That process was recorded and displayed in short animations along with evocative audio content.

To highlight the risk of flooding, the headline, ‘You didn’t nurture it to watch it drown’ is literally drowned in water. The fire risk was addressed by the copy, ‘Years of sacrifice destroyed overnight,’ which was burnt to a crisp. The shocking, emotive copy, combined with the physical damage makes the viewer take notice. “I always had the chills every time I watched it,” Amaral says. “There’s no point in actually showing loads of things in a business drowning, everyone knows how that looks. It’s more about evoking a feeling.” These executions were developed in partnership with production company There Is, which specialises in type. Because of the real life destruction of the creative, the process was long, requiring numerous rounds and budgeting savvy. But, when rendered in print or in animations with sound, the results are chilling.


Ensuring the message would reach its intended audience also required a creative approach. With little budget to put behind the campaign, most of the awareness and communications had to be done through partners. BITC and McCann Enterprise worked with the former’s organisational partners – the likes of NatWest, HSBC and Barclays – to encourage them to support the campaign by pushing it out through their own channels. “Effectively, the partners were the media channel for this. We relied upon their goodwill,” says Ed Henry, business director at McCann Enterprise. The agency worked with the communications professionals and marketing teams at BITC’s partner organisations to ensure they bought into the campaign from the earliest possible point.

And it seemed to have worked. ‘Would you be ready?’ saw over 10,000 people take the online readiness test and hundreds download the resilience resources available from BITC. But, Henry says, this is just the beginning. “This is the first move in a very big conversation,” he says. “The test is still up there, but the bigger achievement in terms of the KPI for us and the client is to start a conversation and movement around small business resilience. That never stops because your small business will never not be at risk of being taken down.”

The BITC has followed up with two week-long awareness pushes to continue to drive business leaders to take resilience more seriously. And it was a success for the Transform Awards judges as well. Taking home the gold award in the ‘Best use of typography’ category, judges praised the creativity and eye-catching nature of the work.

One judge said, “Brought the brand’s essence and purpose to life through the use of typography. Really striking; makes you want to stop and read.” Another called it a “simple effective and no-nonsense campaign.” Added another, “It’s a winner for me.”