The Lighthouse Design Impact Awards

Client: The Lighthouse

Project: Design Impact Award

Date: May to November 2014



Aura works with The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, with the aim of helping promote the impact of design through the support of PR and marketing.

The Lighthouse briefed Aura on the second bi-annual Design Impact Awards, run by The Lighthouse and supported by Creative Scotland and Glasgow City Council. The Award celebrates the best design in Scotland, which has the most impact on our everyday lives.


To launch the Design Impact Awards (DIA), raise awareness of the awards and raise the profile of the awards, with the objective of receiving quality awards, with a credible judging panel and process.

The difference between these awards and other design awards, is the DIA measure the impact of design in everyday lives.

There were two awards, one voted by the public and the other judged by the judging panel. Another aspect was to increase footfall in The Lighthouse by encouraging people to vote for their favourite design, in the specially created Design Impact Award exhibition.


We had to assume that awareness of the Design Impact Awards was limited or not in existence. The inaugural awards were not promoted externally.

We ruled out students as an audience, as the brief for entries was that the design had to have already been commissioned. The award also didn’t include architects. This left the audience as product, graphic and process designers. We did however include Art School Alumni.

Aura worked through its contacts to secure Ian Callum, Design Director of Jaguar, as the Chair of the judging panel. Once Ian was secured, we launched the awards, with a call for entries.

A strategic partnership with Design Week was secured, which included paid for online advertising and sponsorship of its e-newsletter, specifically targeting its Scottish audience.

A launch news story was placed in The Herald, announcing the awards, judges, and calling for entries. An email campaign was created targeting The Lighthouse database and social media activity was planned along with content for the blog and news areas of the website creating widespread awareness amongst the design community.

A live television slot on STV Glasgow was secured as a last minute push for entries.

The hashtag #DIAScot was created and was used in the vast majority of posts about the awards and was subsequently picked up by others’ conversations about the awards.

Aura generated online content from judges and maintained social media output about the DIA for the duration. Work put in during the build up to the awards paid off – by the day of the awards the momentum had picked up online by the entrants, attendees to the event and indeed the judges.

The exhibition of the shortlisted entries was set up and launched and media relations around the exhibition received national coverage, with members of the public being invited to view the exhibition and vote. Regionalised media release were placed with each area covered where the entries came from, creating local awareness and support for the talent in its own community.

Social media supported this and with images of the entries being posted along with content from the entry, awareness was increased of entries.

We also used the previous winner, Josh Reid, and his case study to promote what the awards stood for and what he had achieved through his design.

The public vote was also supposed to have taken place online, via a poll, but the website was not functional for this, so extra effort was put into increasing footfall to the venue, for voting.

Aura worked to develop the awards event, which Ian Callum and the judges attended. An event was created online and invitations were sent out via email software. Both were integrated. The Lighthouse organised its own hospitality and AV/PA.

Aura organised live STV Glasgow coverage at the event with interviews from The Lighthouse and Ian Callum.

The turnaround time for the final press release was tight. The judge’s winner was decided on the night so we ensured we had ‘winning’ quotes for all of the designs so the release could go out as quickly as possible to be included in the press the next day.

We took photos at the event for use on social media on the night and higher quality images to be edited and uploaded the next day.


There were 13 entries for the awards from across Scotland. Half were from designers based in Glasgow but the rest ranged from Edinburgh, Lanark, Aberdeen, Dundee and Dumfries and Galloway. The judges commented on the quality of the entries, particularly the spread from across Scotland.

Each of the 13 entries, clearly identified and laid out the impact of their design. Additionally not all of the designs were products the entries included; customer service platforms, branding and community projects sat alongside them. This shows the key messages that were relayed at the call for entries stage were successful and that the designers understood the purpose of the awards.

Press coverage included eight print news stories, a live package on STV Glasgow on the Riverside Show promoting the awards and what impact design has on lives, that’s often not seen and then live broadcast from STV Glasgow from the award event and a further eight stories were secured.

All press coverage was of a positive nature and included quotes from The Lighthouse, with key messages about the awards, deadline and judges. The winner’s coverage included information about the project and its impact on the community. Funders were named in each press release and the client was quoted in each piece.

The hashtag #DIAScot was particularly effective. In the 24 hours between the afternoon on the day of the awards and the afternoon the day after alone, it reached almost 60,000 accounts on Twitter. Overall reaching nearly 92,000 accounts making 187,538 total impressions. There was a great level of interaction with the Scottish design community, particularly, and understandably with those involved in the awards and their audiences.

On Facebook, the images taken on the night of the winners made 2,300 organic impressions and reached 948 people. The other posts on the night and the day after made between 300 and 650 impressions each. These image-led posts showed their audience the calibre of the awards, the excitement felt by the winners, the quality of the entries and the high profile judges. This would set a good foundation to build the awards in 2016, meaning they are credible and profiled. The £5,000 cash prize won by the winning designer(s) would also add an element of purpose to entering the awards in the future.

Both Twitter and Facebook played a large role in securing entries for the awards and were both updated regularly following the launch of the awards. The client was also encouraged to phone contacts in the design field to invite businesses and organisations to enter their own designs.

Additionally, discussion amongst the design community, particularly on Twitter, was encouraging and showed real engagement with that target audience had been achieved. The nature of discussion was wholly positive and allowed the industry to show their support for each other as well as spread word about the awards.

Creative Scotland, STV Glasgow, V&A Dundee, CEO Starter for 6 and Ian Callum are examples of the influential accounts who posted about the Design Impact Awards. This meant that alongside press coverage, an increased awareness of the awards was repeatedly achieved before, during and after the awards ceremony.

The judging panel itself went a long way to increase the credibility and level of awareness of the awards. With Ian Callum on board as the Chair of the judging panel, supported by big names in Scottish design and the creative industries Aura was able to use them as a hook for the press. A well known and respected panel also meant that messages about the awards also went out on their social media platforms and/or websites.

Perhaps most importantly, the Design Impact Award is now in a stronger, more recognisable position for its next year, in 2016. The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.