Oxford City Council launches campaign to support city businesses

Published: Thursday, 3rd June 2021

Oxford City Council has teamed up with The Oxford Times, Experience Oxfordshire, Independent Oxford and City Sightseeing Oxford to launch a campaign to attract people back to the city centre and give local businesses a boost after a turbulent year of closures and restrictions.

“Rediscover Oxford” is a multi-channel advertising campaign aimed at Oxford and Oxfordshire residents to encourage them to get back to doing the things they love and miss in the city. These are reflected in digital adverts that will run for two weeks in bus shelters on all the main routes in and out of the city. Depicting a range of typical activities, such as punting on the Cherwell, the adverts state that “It’s Time to Rediscover Oxford”.

The campaign, which launches today (3 June) and will run until the end of August, kicks off with a competition inviting Oxford residents and visitors to submit photographs taken in the city now that it is opening up. The photos can be of any area of Oxford life – from strolling in Christ Church Meadow to the view from Carfax Tower.

Prizes have been donated by a wide array of independent businesses and attractions with a star package for the winner of the Over-18s category that includes a night stay with Oxfordshire Living, and a 6-course tasting menu at The Folly restaurant. Full details and how to enter are on the Independent Oxford website.

The winning images in all four categories will also be displayed in The Covered Market in August. In addition, up to 80 runners-up will have their entries displayed at bus stops across Oxford.

Businesses in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors, as well as public transport operators, have all worked hard to put appropriate measures in place to ensure a trip to Oxford is Covid-safe.

The City Council has provided support, including working with the Highway Authority, Oxfordshire County Council, to find ways to provide space for certain types of outdoor dining areas as a temporary measure, encouraging custom and maintaining Covid safety.

Changes that came into effect in Step 3 of the Government’s roadmap allow people to return to indoor eating and drinking, attend live gigs, theatre shows and sports matches, visit museums and cinemas and head back to the shops.

The campaign also features a specially-commissioned film from Independent Oxford showcasing the ways people can start once again to make the most of all the city has to offer – from enjoying a cup of locally-roasted coffee to visiting one of the many new exhibitions that are now open to the public.

The film will be available to view on the campaign’s dedicated page on Experience Oxfordshire’s website –  which will be regularly updated to highlight the range of hospitality, leisure, cultural and historical attractions that Oxford has to offer.

Experience Oxfordshire will also promote the city’s exciting attractions and activities to a wide audience through paid social media advertising and a targeted email campaign.

The Oxford Times will be running editorial every week, both in print and online, under the Rediscover Oxford banner with ideas of places Oxford and Oxfordshire residents can revisit or discover for the first time.

Businesses throughout Oxfordshire can benefit from a limited edition promotion: a six-week print and online advertising campaign in the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times for as little as £99.

To take up the offer, businesses should contact the Oxford Times by emailing [email protected]

Businesses will also be encouraged to take ownership of the campaign by using #RediscoverOxford on their own social media channel.

Oxford is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and one that offers an incredible range of things to do, see and experience.

“After over a year of lockdown and restrictions, I think we’re all looking forward to getting back to enjoying all that our city has to offer. This campaign is the first step of putting that into practice.

“We’re keen to support businesses across all sectors in our city so that as restrictions are eased, they are able to make a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic"

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader,  Oxford City Council

“This summer is going to be a critical time to support our local businesses, and through the Rediscover Oxford campaign, we really want to show that Oxford is still an alive and thriving city to visit – whether for shopping, eating, drinking or exploring. Independents are at the heart of our communities, and add so much colour and character.

“The pandemic has highlighted how essential they are to the vibrancy of our city centre, and it’s vital that we support them to ensure their future. There are so many wonderful independent shops to discover, interesting attractions to explore and mouth-watering places to get something to eat.  

“We’re passionate about supporting independent businesses at Independent Oxford, and are delighted to be working with Oxford City Council, The Oxford Times and Experience Oxfordshire in showcasing Oxford as a wonderful place to visit. We can’t wait for people to show us what Oxford adventures they’re having by entering the Rediscover Oxford Photography Competition, and to see these images displayed in a truly city-wide exhibition by using 80 bus stops and the Covered Market as the centre point.”

Rosie Jacobs, Co-Founder and Director, Independent Oxford

"We are delighted to be working with the City Council and partners on the Rediscover Oxford campaign. The campaign will run throughout summer and work to ensure that the city is front of mind for locals and visitors to return to and explore as part of a day visit or short break. 

“We hope the campaign will help give a boost to visitor economy businesses that have been so severely impacted by the pandemic and these are first steps towards recovery. We look forward to welcoming people back to city responsibly."

Hayley Beer‑Gamage, Chief Executive Officer, Experience Oxfordshire