psLIVE host Urban Partnership Event

psLIVE hosted an Urban Partnerships event on the 11th of November for new clients. The event featured a variety of speakers from different backgrounds including urban street furniture design, brand strategy, local government and charities. The event gave attendees an in depth understanding of the Urban Partnerships approach, new insights into customer behaviour and examples of how brands can benefit by giving back.
Christopher Nicola, Head of Urban Partnerships at psLIVE/Posterscope/PSI introduced the event by explaining how the Urban Partnerships (UP) team, curates and delivers meaningful partnership activations, bringing brands together with not for profit partners or charities to deliver projects that give back to society in some way. These projects are designed to provide benefits for all parties involved
The brand benefits by increased publicity, familiarity with a particular product or brand value, and positive sentiment generated by the public.
Customers benefit through the utility, service or leisure outputs of the project.
The not for profit partner benefits through the brand helping to deliver common objectives for public good, for which funding is now in short supply.
UP project themes could cover all areas that have an impact on people (health, environment, technology, education, safety, transport etc) and all of these are executed in the OOH environment.
Christopher talked through a few examples such as Liveposter’s work with Santander to display bike docking information on bus stops, providing people with free information so they can make better transport choices. The introduction of new smart benches in Canary Wharf, that monitor air quality and charge devices using solar energy, crowdfunding of a new outdoor public library in Whitechapel, and installations promoting adult play such as minigolf parklets in San Fransisco.
Christopher presented new insights into customer behaviour from research gathered in partnership with Exterion and Panelbase.com. The data showed overwhelming support for UP projects (79% overall) with women slightly higher than men. As expected there is a correlation with age, where 90% of younger people felt strongly that advertising should incorporate ‘giving back’ in some way.
When exploring what types of advertising activities consumers find most engaging, campaigns with the UP philosophy of giving back to communities ranked highest – almost three times more favourably than traditional advertising campaigns, or product demonstrations/sampling. In addition, 58% of people are more likely to buy from brands that give back, a figure that rises to 64% for women and 75% for 16-24 year olds.
Nicky Ezer, Head of Events at Camden Council explained how the mind-set of politicians and leadership in local government is changing across the country due to increased budget cuts to local authorities and public sector. This means local authorities are forced to act more like businesses and to be more commercial, generating revenue and exploring ways to work with partner brands.
Despite this shift there is always still red tape to get through, however when brands are providing something of benefit to communities, this helps to gain political support and often results in more positive responses from residents and visitors.
Local Councils have experience in activating large art installations, community projects and festivals. There are many opportunities for brands to jump on board as delivery partners and benefit from these activities. These opportunities are not known to brands and Nicky explained how Councils are working with the UP division to rectify this. Events such as the Lambeth Country Show (the largest free family festival in the South East of England), art installations around the Olympics etc are projects that Council’s still want to deliver but now need support and funding from brands to do so.
Sam Parry from Hackney parks and green spaces took us through some examples of where brands have benefitted from working on community projects in parks. Including a recent urban partnership with adidas who wrapped a sports centre on Hackney Marshes to launch their predator boot, with site fees going on to support football activities for young people in Hackney. He also went through a case study where Nike renovated a local park (Aske Gardens) and created a connection with the local community with a series of community events – from basketball matches to reading stories to young children.
Ben Coles, Director at charity Groundwork, spoke on charity partnerships with a focus on brands they have worked with. He talked about the huge returns on the Britvic Campaign, where for every 1 bottle of Britvic sold, 1cm of outdoor space was transformed. Post campaign sales of Britvic increased along with their share prices.  Ben also spoke about the wider benefits and CSR rewards when working in partnership with charities.
Noel Hatch from Lambeth Council and Andrew Laity from psLIVE explained how UP projects can create social value. Noel went through some insights that Lambeth had commissioned with their local universities to understand what matters to people most in terms of public provision. Profiling their behaviours and highlighting key engagement points. Andrew went on to talk through a recent UP project that adidas carried out in partnership with Lambeth and social enterprise PopBrixton. The project was hugely successful both as a product launch and in creating a lasting legacy for football in the Brixton community.
Anthony Lau from Cyclehoop talked about his design studio and his success in designing innovative urban street furniture that has been rolled out into urban environments around the world. Anthony spoke about how he has been working with UP to deliver new media firsts in branded street furniture, highlighting a case study with Wiggle in Bristol Station where branded bicycle maintenance points were installed permanently, alongside more traditional OOH media such as floor vinyls and 6 sheets to engage customers in the station.
The session ended with a hands-on activity where clients were asked to design a mini ‘parklet’ for their brand, demonstrating their brand values in the functionality and design.