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Why supporting local business is more critical than ever

Dan Jude, Global Creative Lead, Google & YouTube at Redwood BBDO on the importance of supporting local businesses, both with a wallet and a kind review.

Dan Jude, Redwood BBDO

Global Creative Lead, Google & YouTube

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There was a moment on set for Google’s recent #DearLocal campaign that perfectly captured the importance of local in 2020. Shooting outside Golders Green’s ‘Launderette’, Anthony Joshua, world heavyweight boxing champion, finished delivering his words to camera. He signed a few autographs, then headed into the unassuming North London dry-cleaners. A few minutes passed. Then a few more. Eventually, he came out, chatting and laughing with Yusef, the man who’s been tailoring his clothes for over a decade, carrying three overflowing bags of dry-cleaning. This was Anthony’s local.

Two weeks later, we were shooting BAFTA-winning actress Sheridan Smith in Epworth, Lincolnshire. At her favourite chippie, Ocean’s 52, she implored me to try their famous ‘chips, scraps and gravy’. As I ordered a box and tucked in, spoiler alert: it was delicious, I could see what it meant to her, letting someone else into her local secret. This was Sheridan’s local.

Through 2020, we’ve all had to adapt. In how we work, how we live, how we shop. Some new behaviours, like working from home, may stick around; others, online quizzes, jigsaw puzzles, home baking, may be temporary.

One behaviour I hope will stay is how we’ve all leaned in to support local business. Throughout the toughest of years, local has been there for us and it’s been there for me. Over the past few months, I’ve discovered quality ingredients for new recipes (More Italy’s spicy nduja sauce), new wines to help pass long lockdown nights (Dulwich Vinters’ Château Gabelot Bordeaux), and books I would never have discovered online (Dulwich Books’ tip, ‘Such A Fun Age’). All personally recommended, by real people, with real passion for what they do and what they sell.

That’s my local.

Sadly, local is in trouble. An already blighted high street has been hit hard by COVID-19, and small businesses are feeling the pain hardest. Many have already closed, millions more may follow.

As we edge past the midway point of a second lockdown against this backdrop, it’s more important than ever that we support local businesses, with our wallets, of course, but also in other ways. Recommending a business to friends and neighbours can help, as can leaving a Google review for a business you love.

Look local 

According to recent YouGov research, over half of local businesses (51%) believe online reviews can boost business. It’s easy, too. You can leave a review in under a minute, and that star rating, a few words, or a photo might just help someone else discover a place that needs all the help it can get right now.

In making our ‘Dear Local’ campaign for Google, we didn’t want to make a traditional ad, with actors and sets, artifice and fiction. We wanted to tell the real stories of real SMBs in 2020, from the cafe where Anthony Joshua orders his baked potatoes in advance via text message, to the garden centre in Epworth that Sheridan Smith regularly visited with her mum to feed the donkeys, when she needed a pick-me-up after COVID hit.

This approach to storytelling is central to Redwood BBDO’s philosophy, helping brands tell true stories, and for me, it’s why the campaign, which is currently running across TV, social and YouTube, has resonated with people. We can all relate to local stories of kindness, discovery and compassion, because we’ve all experienced them. Amazingly, 54% of consumers have reported seeing more acts of kindness during lockdown. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a boxer or an actor; a lawyer, gardener, teacher or anything else: we all need local right now and local needs us.

The point is simple: all the restaurants, bars, launderettes, florists, garages and other local businesses that make up your area are its beating heart. So, support local business and shop local before it's too late. Time is of the essence. The ‘Dear Local’ campaign builds on Google’s commitment to help one million small British businesses stay open by the end of 2021, and I am very proud to have had a small part in it. 

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Guest Author

Dan Jude, Redwood BBDO

Global Creative Lead, Google & YouTube ,

About

Dan Jude is the Global Creative Lead for Google and YouTube at Redwood BBDO, and the Creative Lead on Google’s ‘Dear Local’ campaign, starring Anthony Joshua and Sheridan Smith. Prior to heading up the fastest growing account in Redwood’s 36-year history, Dan has led integrated creative campaigns for blue-chip brands including Guinness and Virgin Media and a range of start-ups across lifestyle, retail and tech. He supports Arsenal and has a Chocolate Labrador.

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