Big Cat Group, an award winning integrated agency, has helped change consumer perceptions of Birmingham through the much anticipated launch of Grand Central Birmingham, the UK’s new £150 million premium retail and dining destination, which saw over 300,000 visitors during the opening weekend.
Big Cat Group, which forms Big Cat, The Fair and House of Experience were appointed back in August, 2014 to create and execute the launch campaign event as well as facilitate an ongoing press office and media launch for the city’s major development, which sits proudly above the magnificent revamped £600m New Street Station.
On Thursday 24th September, 2015 Grand Central Birmingham opened its doors for the first time to the public welcoming over 25,000 people in just under a few hours. A spotlight shone down on Birmingham as thousands turned up to see the centre which boasts 66 new premium shops and restaurants. The four day opening weekend ran during, what Birmingham called, ‘Super September’ which was predicted to be the city’s busiest weekend of the year with New Street Station being fully operational, Birmingham Weekender cultural festival taking place and the Rugby World Cup game, hosted locally at Aston Villa football stadium, estimating to see over 60% of commuters utilising the station as a core interchange hub.
With the over-arching view of capturing the attention of national media and bystanders, The Fair worked with key stakeholders ahead of the event to deliver a complex, immersive experience. Working in tandem with Birmingham City Council, West Midlands Police, Network Rail and Savills, it was imperative that the additional audiences the launch day activity would bring didn’t impact on the train station operations below Grand Central at concourse level.
Local connections were strengthened further through a series of engaging, well-curated and expertly executed performances by Aston Performing Arts Academy. The performances lasted no longer than 180 seconds in order to lower the impact on flow of commuters, shoppers and diners at Grand Central and New Street Station.
House of Experience captured the day digitally creating 4 pieces of content just 45 minutes after each performance had finished, in order to transmit them via the centre’s state-of-the-art outdoor advertising screens, known as Media Eyes, which fill the eye-shaped spaces above the station’s three main entrances.
Big Cat led on the media engagement of the launch day, hosting a breakfast preview with over 70 plus national and regional journalists before the centre opened to the public at 10am. More than 221 pieces of coverage appeared in print and online including national features in: Daily Mail, The Independent, i and Huffington Post. Across broadcast there was 97 mentions of Grand Central on the launch day alone which led to Grand Central trending on Twitter within the first few hours. Following the opening on Friday 25 September, Channel 4 news delivered their entire 45 minute program from the centre, placing Grand Central on a national stage as audience figure peaked to over 2.8 million UK viewers.
Big Cat Group, CEO, Nick Morgan said: “Our stimulus for the opening was to create a ‘big bang’ moment for the long awaited Grand Central while also ensuring our idea didn’t cause any negative impact on commuters using the station below the shopping centre. The immersive activations were designed to represent Birmingham’s creativity and local community. The Grand Central team listened, advised and guided us from initial pitch to implementation, enabling us to deliver the launch exactly how it was envisaged. The reception was phenomenal with incredible feedback and the people of Birmingham feeling very proud of the latest development launched in the city.”
Ashley Innis, Communications and Engagement Manager at Grand Central Birmingham, said: “The launch event for Grand Central was a real success. Working with The Fair, we delivered a series of small engaging events which wowed those watching. Many people including shoppers, commuters and visitors stopped to watch the fantastic performances by Aston Performing Arts School – hundreds on the balcony of Grand Central and the station concourse also filmed the activities and seeded them across a number of social media platforms.
“The resulting Media coverage, managed by Big Cat ensured that Grand Central was the lead story across all local and many national media – in print, on radio and broadcast. I am delighted with the partnership which delivered a memorable event for Grand Central Birmingham and our city. ”