The ads aim to raise awareness of the fact that The Big Issue is a social enterprise scheme rather than a charity, as sellers purchase their magazines and sell them, operating as independent businesses.
They have been conceived and written by five of the magazine’s vendors, and include the straplines, "I work in the city. I buy, I sell. Hopefully I make a profit", and "Try Before you buy! Read a page for free, if you like it. Buy it."
Big Issue vendors buy magazines for £1.25 and sell them for £2.50. The campaign is designed to draw attention to the associated challenges they face such as cash flow, product marketing, customer relations and competition.
M&C has worked with The Big Issue since the magazine’s rebrand last year. It collaborated with small businesses on the ads, which were designed with independent typographer Stephen Kenny using 19th century letter-press machines.
The campaign is running across national press and online for two weeks, as well as outdoor in the hometowns of the five vendors in London, Glasgow, Bath and Bristol.
Enyi Nwosu, managing director of M&C Saatchi’s central strategy unit, said: "Working directly with the vendors on this campaign, hearing their stories and helping them to bring to life their ideas was an incredibly humbling experience for everyone involved. The creative ideas are a product of our unique collaboration and something we are all proud of."
Ian Blair, a Glasgow-based vendor who worked on the project, said: "This has been a great opportunity to put across my attitude to my business. I’ve always viewed selling the magazine as a job – I put in the hours, manage my finances carefully, and try to build a rapport with my customers. I hope as a result of the campaign more people will realise that vendors are working, not relying on hand-outs."Follow @louiseridley