case-study

#LightItBlue

Executive Summary

On Thursday 26th March at 8pm, the UK hashtagged #LightItBlue as a salute to the courageous efforts of everyone involved in the nation’s healthcare system. Over 100 sporting and entertainment venues, national landmarks, and historic buildings were illuminated simultaneously, with many buildings becoming beacons of blue every Thursday evening during lockdown.

Challenge

At the start of March 2020, the events and entertainment industry found itself in an unprecedented state of enforced inaction due to COVID-19.

A collective of industry leaders decided that the best thing they could do – apart from staying at home – was to use their skills and networks to say thank you to everyone involved in the nation’s healthcare system by illuminating the UK’s landmarks blue. Yet because the country was in ‘lockdown’, it was unlikely that these beacons would ever been seen by the public (or frontline workers).

H+K was tasked with driving awareness of the #LightItBlue initiative and reinforcing the country’s gratitude to those working tirelessly to look after Britons during the pandemic. The #MakeItBlue collective also wanted to galvanise the enthusiasm and pride of those in the events and entertainment industry who, having lost their jobs due to the pandemic, were feeling anxious and confused about the future.

The task was set within two days of the illuminations taking place, without any budget for photography and had to be co-ordinated from the team’s living rooms.

Solution

H+K addressed its lack of costs, freedom of movement and media furloughs by giving newswires, photo agencies and national picture desks whose photographers who could be out of home advance notice of every venue that would be illuminated.

They addressed their lack of time before launch by drafting one central release that was tailored with a pitch to regional media highlighting local landmarks taking part in the campaign.

H+K contacted newswires and other organisations who they had strong relationships with to support the campaign on a pro bono basis. SWNS, Storybeat and Tribe agreed to promote the campaign, and Kantar stepped in to monitor the resulting coverage.

They also aligned the timing of the illuminations to 8pm to build on the positivity of the existing #ClapforCarers initiative.

Following launch, H+K also identified story angles such as Mental Health Awareness Week and the NHS 72nd birthday celebrations – in which #LightItBlue was invited to take part as an official partner – that would keep the initiative in the spotlight.

 

3,000+

Articles generated

20,000+

Social mentions

Impact

Generating nearly 3,000 articles and over 20,000 social mentions, the campaign demonstrated the power of a simple visual and strong earned media relations.

Over 150+ buildings from the Royal Albert Hall to Belfast Titanic Signature Building, Lincoln Cathedral or Windsor Castle, and 10 Downing Street to Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge, to Scotland’s Murrayfield Stadium and Wales’ Conwy Castle, took part in the illuminations. However, the campaign also inspired members of the public to light their own local buildings as a sign of appreciation. #LightItBlue in the UK also kickstarted an international gesture of thanks to frontline heroes with 23 countries joining in within just three months.

As well as giving a sense of pride to people in the events and entertainment industry, the collective behind #LightItBlue has since formed a community interest company dedicated to raising funds for mental health charities.