Be Surprised!

Blackburn BID launches Surprising Christmas Shopping Campaign

‘Be Surprised’ is the invitation from The Blackburn BID (Business Improvement District) today as it launches a dynamic, multi-platform marketing message that is being rolled out across the county on buses, train stations, newspapers and magazines, social media, town centre signage and giant road side hoardings.

Working in partnership with marketing teams at The Mall, Blackburn Market and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, the promotion challenges shoppers to re-discover the new developments underway and witness the multi-million pound investment which is dramatically changing the skyline in the heart of the town centre.


The ‘Be Surprised’ message idea is being funded from the levies paid by town centre traders with contributions from The Mall, Blackburn Market and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. The concept was originated by Harriet Roberts who is responsible for communication and events for the BID to drive footfall to the town centre. She worked with graphic designer, Stephen Caton of Source Creative and digital marketing company, Blackburn Life Media on the eye-catching, modern message which features a role model visitor, 20 year old, Hannah Spurgeon from the Ribble Valley.

Harriet explains, ‘2015 is a landmark year for the town, which will see the long anticipated completion of the multi-million pound Cathedral Quarter development with its wine bars and hotel and restaurants, a new bus station and travel interchange, leisure centre and swimming pool. Visitors are challenged to ‘be surprised’ at the investment already completed and the myriad of high quality smaller independent retailers, boutiques and cafes which are dotted around the town offering personal service and specialist knowledge. Basically, we want people to think again about where they do their big Christmas shop if they normally go to other towns or cities, and to consider Blackburn for scale, choice and convenience.

Additional AA road signage will be installed to help newcomers coming by car to navigate their way round the one way system to the Council owned Christmas shoppers car parks which are free on Saturday and Sunday and after 3pm during the week. These are also being spruced up with new ‘Be Surprised’ branding so that they are easier to identify.

As part of a package of support for the independent traders, a shopping guide and map has been produced linked to ten 7.5 foot high Toblerone shaped towers which will be sited across the town centre to point visitors to a number of shopping zones a stone’s throw away from main pedestrianised routes and shopping centre. These will include Northgate, Railway Road, Fleming Square, Darwen Street, King Street, Sudell Cross, and Town Hall Street.

Talking about the New Year revolution for the town centre, Harriet Roberts, Blackburn BID (Business Improvement District) Manager explains, ‘We already have a fantastic new Mall shopping centre with some flagship big brand stores and a bright, modern Blackburn Market. There’s a tangible buzz about town as the new buildings are quickly rising out of the ground in the proposed Cathedral Quarter and offices, shops and residential cloister areas for clergy begin to take shape to create a major new retail, leisure and office development. The town will simply not look the same. We just need people to see for themselves and grasp the vision.’

Major retailers such as Dunelm Mill and The Works have joined the line-up of big brand chains in the Mall and Townsmoor Retail Park. Car parking on all council car parks is free every Saturday and after 3pm during the week, which is a surprise in itself.’

As well as a celebrity Christmas light switch on and the traditional lantern parade, fireworks display and carol service, free family events and activities will take place on the four Saturdays before Christmas including a makers craft market in the Town Hall and a Victorian photo parlour for costumed portraits to create cards and gifts.

©2023 Blackburn BID

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