Community Spirit

Harnessing local love for your brand

Kara Melchers

Managing Editor, BITE Creativebrief


The Hackney community was out in full force this month: there was shouting, waving and locals tearing through the streets. I’m talking about the Half Marathon. 80% of the 15,000 participants lived in the borough and it felt like the remainder of the residents were out on the street supporting. Brands were there to fuel the community spirit. Gym Box, the ‘antidote to the boring gym’, designed a day of bespoke fitness classes to keep non-runners entertained.

Coincidentally they’re about to open a new East London studio.

Getting up close with the locals can give all brands an advantage over their competitors. Last year Nike opened their first NYC Community Store in the heart of Brooklyn. They “are about neighbourhood roots and community connection,” said Dennis van Oossanen, VP of Nike North America. All stores have a local hiring policy and the team further demonstrate their commitment to the neighbourhood by volunteering for local charities.

Empowering communities is a great way to build brand love. Wickes has recently partnered with VIY (Volunteer It Yourself), an initiative that combines volunteering and DIY. Starting with the improvement of their own social spaces, VIY motivates young people aged 14-24 to learn trade skills on the job. The home improvement chain contributes products and materials, as well as the skills and talents of their employees and customers.

Finding genuine ways to help people and give back to communities is a great way for all brands to start harnessing some local love.

Read for examples...

Magazines For Coffee

The Big Issue was not only revolutionary for the publishing industry, it was an entirely new way to help the homeless. Today it faces new challenges; great content is readily available online, and the number of free publications is ever increasing. While print is in decline the coffee industry is certainly booming. With this insight the Big Issue has designed a new way to help the homeless: providing them with the skills and equipment to sell great coffee.

All budding baristas are housed as part of the programme, paid London Living Wage, and provided with ongoing training and support. After six months in the programme they are offered employment by one of the partners, allowing Change Please to help the new group of homeless people to get back on their feet. Starting with the local community, Big Issue believe that getting people to change where they buy their coffee really can change the world.

Agency: FCB Inferno, LONDON

coffees sold
people off the street

M&S Spark Something Good

Marks & Spencer teamed up with volunteer website, Neighbourly, to connect customers and staff who want to contribute to local community projects in need of support. To launch the initiative, the high-street retailer coordinated an army of volunteers, including Joanna Lumley, to transform 24 community projects across London in just 24 hours. The launch kicked off projects in a further 24 towns and cities. Every store has chosen a local charity of the year to fundraise for and support, meaning customers who can’t volunteer time or skills can make a difference by donating in-store.

Agency: Unity, London

Stride Connects The Local Running Community

Stride is a retail destination for runners in cities throughout Russia. As well as selling shoes and clothing, they’ve launched their own running club. The interior design is based around social spaces, which helps the store connect to local running communities. In-store there are permanent shareable visual moments, perfect for post run selfies, and dedicated social spaces for local athletes to meet up.

Agency: Rosie Lee, London

Under Armour Local Armour Camp

Under Armour wanted to locally amplify its first ever Armour Camp - a series of gruelling large-scale training events designed to be the UK’s toughest physical workout sessions. Before the launch in Manchester a teaser film was released across social media channels. Local fitness celebrities were invited to participate and post about the event. The story was picked up by local media, broadcast and radio stations. The event itself helped bring Under Armour’s mission ‘to make all athletes better’ ‘to a new local audience.

Agency: Pretty Green, London

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