Cool Blue was tasked with creating a campaign that would create positive awareness of the scheme to develop up to 2,000 homes over a 10-year period and position George Wimpey as a company focused on innovative, good design and quality products. Our ‘Design Democracy’ campaign referred to the low-cost, high-design nature of the scheme and the community consultation programme that was key in informing each aspect of the development.

This coincided with designer Wayne Hemingway criticising the ‘Wimpeyfication of Britain’ in the national media.

Having seen those comments, we invited him to see some of the innovative projects for himself. Our bringing together of Wayne Hemingway and George Wimpey’s then MD, Ronnie Baird, led to the creation of the multi-award-winning Staiths South Bank development.

George Wimpey was praised for being keen on improving its products and services, while we used Wayne as a design collaborator and key spokesman throughout the campaign.

Wayne spoke at numerous events including at an art installation at the Baltic that was sponsored by George Wimpey; design-based discussion groups at Newcastle and Northumbria Universities; and at Urbis, the museum for modern living based in Manchester, as part of a debate on the future of modern housing. This featured on BBC Radio 4.

We set up a series of briefing events for businesses, community groups, media outlets and politicians to inform them of the plans and provide insights into the positive effects of the development. We also invited members of the local community to get involved in a promotional campaign, with volunteer Dunston residents appearing in brochures, advertising and newsletters.

We held launch events in Newcastle and London to ensure we got national and regional coverage of the Staiths and invited key figures to attend, with excellent turnouts from media and stakeholders.


  • Communications strategy
  • Launch events
  • Media briefings
  • PR
  • Copywriting
  • Media Relations
  • Design
  • Photography
  • Project Management
  • Event Management

Solutions and results

The 18-month campaign generated a sea of coverage nationally, regionally and locally. News, business, property and lifestyle publications picked up the stories including The Times, The Sunday Times Home supplement, the Financial Times, The Independent, The Telegraph, Homes & Gardens, Living Etc, Elle Deco and Building. There was also lots of broadcast coverage, courtesy of BBC News 24, Radio 4’s Today and PM programmes, and regional news channels.

The first phase of the Staiths sold out within two hours of release for sale, while 75% of the advertising budget for the first phase sales period was saved due to the high demand.

The campaign significantly improved George Wimpey’s national reputation, with the firm receiving extensive positive coverage and praise from key journalists.

The development won several housing sector awards and Cool Blue won numerous awards for its work on the campaign from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, including best use of photography, best integrated campaign and best newsletter. It also launched the next phase of the Wayne and his wife Gerardine’s new careers as urban designers.

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