Objectives

Four was tasked with concepting a placemaking and communications strategy for DTZ Investors to enliven a previously unnamed and under-utilised space in the heart of Farringdon. The ambition was to develop the area into an attractive social destination for retail, leisure and hospitality brands, as well as to provide a great local offering for workers, residents and visitors to explore, eat and enjoy, encouraging footfall and spend.

Planning and Thinking

Following an extensive audit of the area with local businesses and stakeholders such as TFL and Thameslink, we developed a 12 month placemaking strategy under four pillars. They were:

  • To produce a new brand & destination narrative – we decided to launch the area as Cowcross Yards, and made food prominent as part of the narrative, capturing the culinary history of the area
  • To develop a consumer activations & events programme – this would include seasonal gastronomic events and activations under the campaign name YUM @ Cowcross Yards. We also needed to create a digital presence – via social media and a website
  • To incorporate a public realm enlivenment programme – this would take the form of a 20 foot mural designed by Graffiti Kings.
  • To launch a recommenders programme – this generated over 35 pieces of coverage, including three pieces in London Evening Standard and Time Out, with a reach of over 90 million.

This gave us the opportunity to present a vision for how the space could be used and start to establish Cowcross Yards as a place where local residents, workers and visitors could explore and spend time.

Implementation

Cowcross Yards was officially put on Google Maps and a website and social strategy was established to chime with the launch of the first YUM @ Cowcross Yards event.

Graffiti Kings is the only government approved graffiti collective, and it has worked with the likes of Rihanna, Stella McCartney & David Beckham. Graffiti Kings curated a 20 foot mural as the centre-piece of Cowcross Yards and developed an ‘insta-spot’ for the space.

To soft launch Cowcross Yards and demonstrate its potential use for events and activations, the first YUM @ Cowcross Yards – ‘The Feast of Fall’ – celebrated all things seasonal and delicious with a pop up mini allotment where everything from the pots to the greenery was edible.

For the Christmas period Cowcross Yards became home to London’s first ‘puds & trees’ market with the second YUM @ Cowcross Yards activation. The space was transformed into an urban forest and a 20 foot Christmas pudding tree invited visitors to pick their own mini pudding.

Adapting and Learning

Within five months lunchtime visits increased by over 33% and the space was described by local workers as “A beautiful lunch spot where you can sit, chat and eat” – a huge step-change from its original perceptions.

The YUM @ Cowcross Yards campaign drove stand out London and event media coverage. We achieved more than 35 pieces of coverage with a reach greater than 90 million in just over three months. The London Evening Standard ran image lead features three times and Time Out included Cowcross Yards in its leading Something for the Weekend segment. Time Out also featured Cowcross Yards on Facebook, and this reached more than 1.4 million followers.