Celebrating the Great British High Street with Visa and the UK Government

/ Work / Visa

Tasked with launching the UK Government’s Great British High Street Awards, sponsored by Visa, Grayling delivered an 8-month campaign that championed the UK’s high streets and delivered real impact for local small businesses.

Creating Advantage

25% increase in revenues on participating high streets

Total campaign reach of 500 million+

300+ pieces of media coverage, including BBC News, The One Show, ITV News, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Guardian, Daily Express, Telegraph, Daily Mirror and Evening Standard

800,000+ social media engagements

Project Leader

The campaign needed to reach a wide variety of audiences – from small business owners to local community groups, government stakeholders and Visa’s stakeholders and partners. To reach and be relevant to these different audiences, we needed to go to the heart of what unites and makes all our high streets special: the people. Our strategy was therefore to create a campaign that put people front-and-centre, identifying and celebrating the heroes of the Great British high street.


To launch the campaign, we worked with TV presenter Simon Reeve to create a documentary series charting the UK high street today and share stories of some of the inspiring small businesses that are innovating and adapting to thrive in a challenging and ever-changing environment. Supporting this, we undertook research by Visa, to uncover merchant and consumer attitudes towards their local high streets, and tell a positive story of optimism and innovation.


Findings of the Visa report and Simon Reeve’s video series were shared with national, regional and consumer media, along with a network of UK-wide influencers, to spark conversation around the high street and launch the search for the UK’s best. In Grayling’s offices from London and Edinburgh, to Bristol and Birmingham, our connections delivered media coverage across all key national and regional titles, with highlights including BBC News, Sky News and The One Show. The result was a record number of entries to the Great British High Street Awards, which was then whittled down to a shortlist for public voting.


To generate a second burst of media coverage, we framed the announcement of the Awards shortlist as a ‘snapshot of the UK high street today’ and produced portrait photography of heroes of each of the shortlisted high streets. This striking photography was shared across national and local media, on social and the campaign website, generating a huge splash and celebration of best practice on the high street.


Alongside widespread media coverage, we negotiated a non-paid for partnership with the Daily Mirror, creating an exclusive Awards category for the publication, which guaranteed ongoing editorial attention for Visa and the Awards throughout the year.


The campaign culminated with a glittering Awards Ceremony at London’s Lancaster House, where the winners were announced and celebrated.


Overall, the campaign achieved all its objectives and exceeded KPIs. At each stage, key messaging was communicated through media, with high-quality, positive media coverage hitting the headlines and successfully positioning Visa as a leading champion of UK high street communities.


Such was the campaign’s success that it inspired Visa’s first ever Christmas campaign, which continued the company’s support for the high street and featured real-life small businesses in the TV advert and out of home advertising across the UK.


For further information about the Great British High Street Awards, including the 2019 campaign, visit  

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