ICSC members are taking #backtogether2020 viral

By June 26, 2020Featured, In the News

ICSC – A tight-knit group of shopping center marketing professionals has launched a campaign to make ICSC’s Back. Together. marketing campaign go viral. Back. Together. is a marketing and branding initiative ICSC launched in May to help its members communicate with one voice about the economic importance of retail and retail real estate as the country recovers from COVID-19. ICSC members can customize the assets in the marketing toolkit and can leverage them in physical and digital channels. The campaign emphasizes community and togetherness.

“I was itching to reach as many of our partners as possible and to share something in a really fun way,” said Urban Edge Properties vice president of marketing Andrea Simpson. “Preparing to reopen is a serious task, but I wanted to be able to share something that was fun and had the potential to become more viral than a sign on the property. The Back. Together. campaign provided us with the umbrella and the opportunity to do that.”

On a weekly Zoom, Simpson and a dozen of her marketing peers, most of whom work at open-air REITs, were brainstorming ways to use the campaign. Simpson proposed that Urban Edge make a video, and the idea morphed into a challenge, she said, referring to the recent phenomenon of social media challenges. As for the well-known the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, one person, group or company would record themselves completing a task, post the video on social media and challenge others to do the same.

So, Urban Edge, which owns 78 properties in the New York City metro region, kicked off the #backtogether challenge. Simpson and Vanessa Martinez, director of marketing for New York and New Jersey, shot iPhone footage at New Jersey’s Bergen Town Center. “I wanted to capture in a really authentic way what was actually happening at the ground level,” she said. A video editor spliced the footage together and sourced a low-cost song to jazz things up. “It’s not a top 40 chart buster, but if you listen to the lyrics it’s a great song,” she said.

The company posted the video to LinkedIn on June 2 and challenged Peterson Cos. and CBRE.

CBRE accepted the challenge, eager to support ICSC, Urban Edge and its clients across the country. CBRE’s clients already are using Back. Together. marketing materials at their properties, said senior director of occupier marketing for the Americas Tess Peterson. Now, her team is compiling footage from a variety of the properties it manages for its own video.

Angela Sweeney, vice president and chief marketing officer for Peterson, which owns five open-air lifestyle centers in the D.C. area, was ready for the challenge, too. “We have these great outdoor spaces and plazas and seating areas and fire pits and trails and carousels. Emphasizing that was central to our strategy to welcome people back,” Sweeney said. She shot iPhone footage of the company’s properties, all of which conveniently are within driving distance of one another. Peterson was adding COVID-19 safety features at the time. “In our video, you’ll see the landscaping guy making the circles on the grassy areas to indicate how people can physically distance and still have a picnic,” she noted as an example. The firm’s in-house graphic designer set the footage to upbeat music.

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