The Big Issue is a unique magazine in that it does good every time to buy it. Its vendors, all homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people, benefit directly from its sales. Now FCB Inferno has given it the power to keep doing good after that first sale. It has become the world’s first resellable magazine.
The system, Pay It Forward, created by creative agency FCB Inferno and powered by Monzo, means each magazine can be sold-on each time after its been read, doing good wherever it goes. Each magazine will come with its own scannable QR code, that allows readers to pass the magazine onto a friend, who can scan the code to pay for it again.
The scheme aims to help vulnerable magazine sellers to earn more. It also solves the problem that the homeless are facing as fewer and fewer people carry cash. Big Issue vendors sell on average one magazine for every hour worked and for each sale, they earn £1.25. Unlike begging, selling The Big Issue offers vulnerable people the means to earn a legitimate income, develop money management skills, build networks and ultimately reintegrate into mainstream society. With Pay It Forward, their efforts will lead to great income, making the time they spend on their pitch more lucrative. The magazines may be sold many times over.
Owen Lee, chief creative officer FCB Inferno, noted, “By turning every Big Issue buyer into a potential seller, we’ll activate a huge and untapped force for good with each vendor being the head of a chain of entrepreneurship. While all Big Issue magazines are made to do good, this means that every magazine can keep on doing good.”
Lew Isaacs, vulnerability specialist at Monzo added, “In the last 10 years, the number of cash payments has halved. And although paying by card is convenient, the falling use of cash has real consequences for people in poverty and organisations like The Big Issue.
“We hope Pay It Forward will help grow the earnings of Big Issue sellers when readers pass the magazine onto their friends. Our goal is to give more vulnerable people access to financial services, and help The Big Issue continue its crucial work.”
A host of celebrities is helping to promote Pay it Forward. Gary Lineker, Roger Daltrey, Vincent Kompany, Alistair Stewart and the cast of Wicked have bought copies of the magazine which are now in general circulation, with the special QR code editions starting to run from this Monday.
This revolutionisation of the Big Issue business model coincides with recent data showing that 4,677 people bedded down on the streets or in sheds and tents in the UK in 2018. A figure 165% higher than in 2010.
For the trial launch, Monzo has supported up to 20 sellers around the UK to open Monzo bank accounts. The money from all their sales via Pay It Forward will go straight into their Monzo accounts. Having a bank account and debit card will let them safely save and pay for goods and services in a way that many of us take for granted. This means that the project will also get vendors into the financial system, a crucial step on their journey away from the streets. Unlike many other banks, Monzo doesn’t need customers to have a fixed address. People only need access to an address (like a friend’s house or a shelter) where Monzo can post their card, making it easier for homeless people to access bank accounts.
The new system has two other benefits. It spreads awareness of The Big Issue’s mission further and makes the publication more environmentally friendly by ensuring that each issue is well read before it gets recycled.
Aaron Dunn, 30, who sells The Big Issue in Covent Garden, commented, “It is great because you get to earn extra money on top of the sales you make of the magazine. You never know how far it is going to go. One of my magazines has already been passed around over 20 times.”
Lara McCullagh, director of marketing and communications at The Big Issue, commented, “The people who buy The Big Issue aren’t just readers, they’re often vocal champions of our mission. This fantastic new scheme, in partnership with Monzo, gives them a way to further support their local vendor by selling the magazine onto friends and family, and offers those same vendors the opportunity to grow their income and their customer base.”
FCB Inferno first started working with The Big Issue in 2015, when it created and funded Change Please, which provides former homeless people with a home to rent and a full London living wage, whilst they are trained up as baristas to run the coffee carts. The agency then partnered with The Big Issue and The Old Spike Roastery to build it into a business, which has so far taken more than 85 people off the streets.
Creative Agency: FCB Inferno
Creative Directors: Ben Edwards, Guy Hobbs & Martin McAllister
Senior Strategist: Laura Pirkis
Director of European Communications and PR: CC Clark
Senior Creative Producer: Bridie Scriven
Senior Designer: Becci Salmon
Senior Account Director: Isabelle Soskice
Account Director: Gemma Corridan
Producer: Hanna Davis
Photographer: Jack Margerison
Senior Artworker: Matt Johnson
Client: The Big Issue:
Director of Marketing and Communications: Lara McCullagh
Vulnerability Specialist: Lewis Isaacs
Engineers: Kunal Singhal & Paul Cuthbertson