Reopening retail stores during the Covid-19 lockdown was always going to be challenging. In the height of the pandemic, British consumers were cynical about retailer intentions and nervous about personal wellbeing. Homebase needed to deliver a set of serious health and safety messages and gently persuade people into a new way of shopping to protect its store teams, while still welcoming shoppers in-store.

So we turned to Homebase’s friendliest in-store character, the garden gnome. ‘Phone Gnome’ and ‘Selfie Gnome’ were enlisted to front a social campaign educating customers on their role in responsible shopping. Through a series of short films including “Gnome Less Than Two Metres” and “Gnome More Gatherings” Homebase delivered serious health and safety messages in the reassuringly friendly voice of its famous garden gnomes.

What started in social then spread across all customer comms channels including and direct mailers. Not only did the gnomes help shape customer behaviour in-store, protecting the teams working so hard to keep things open, but they also significantly improved overall brand sentiment with a 30% uptick in positive sentiment in the weeks following.