Increasing footfall, engaging with local communities and keeping things local are the aims and objectives we are being told time and time again by local authorities and councils.
The retail reliant high street is no more. Each month we hear of more store closures, staff reductions and the possibility of multi-national companies going into administration is no longer a shock.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Great British High Street is on its way out however, we believe this is wrong. Cue Blackburn with Darwen Council.
Long before the barrage of retail dwindling headlines of 2018, Blackburn had already identified that footfall needed to increase in their town centre and that they could no longer rely on the once popular retail stores to help in this drive. Instead, they began to look at alternative options. Dynamic ways of drawing audiences to the town and keeping them there for longer.
Having already purchased an LED screen for advertising purposes, Blackburn with Darwen Council knew how versatile these powerful communication tools could be and instructed ADI to install a second, this time however the screens purpose would be to engage.
It would have been easy to use the screen as an advertising tool like so many towns and cities do. To employ an agency to sell space on the screen for national brands to take over with hour after hour of adverts. But Blackburn with Darwen wanted to keep it local and championing local communities and businesses has been the sole purpose of the screen since it was installed in May.
Days following the installation the screen was put to use with daily playlists packed full of local, civic and national news helping keep local residents updated with the latest goings on in Blackburn and surrounding areas.
The screen was used to promote the towns annual Festival of Making and then throughout the festival itself, helping keep crowds updated on the schedule of events. The screen also played an instrumental role in Blackburn’s touching memorial service to the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing.
When not being used to inform, the screen is being used to entertain. The summer of 2018 has been bursting at the seams with amazing events and Blackburn have taken full advantage of the screens ability to broadcast live content. On the 19th May, the screen showed Prince Harry and Megan tie the knot and then later, drew in crowds eager to watch Chelsea and Manchester United battle it out to be crowned the FA Cup winner.
Each event has seen an increase in numbers, as word about the screen spreads audience numbers are increasing with people coming together in order to share in experiences. Throughout the World Cup the England games were broadcast, bringing together the community and benefiting local restaurants and bars with an increase in traffic to the area.
So far the screen is exceeding all expectations. Engaging audiences, driving footfall and helping to create a sense of community. What could have been used as just another advertising platform has instead been used to help Blackburn not only champion ‘local’, but also take back their high street.