Bou Khalil is one of Lebanon’s leading supermarkets, with 11 supermarkets across the country. Having opened in 1935, it is the country’s oldest supermarket chain and pledges “generations of care”. Additionally, it is the only supermarket chain in Lebanon that has retained its local identity, keeping its local Arabic name where others have chosen to westernize identities. This stems from its brand values that are firmly engrained in Lebanon and supporting the country.
Lebanon has absorbed more than 2 million Syrian refugees. More than half are children, drastically increasing the number of children beggars. There is no social infrastructure or government system to help the refugee population. Additionally, gangs exploited some street children, using the money they were given to buy illicit items. Unsure of where their money was going, the Lebanese stopped giving. This left the majority of street children who beg to survive, without basic necessities. As a leading brand, Bou Khalil supermarkets wanted to step in to help these children and stay true to its promise of “generations of care”.
How the final design was conceived
To enable the Lebanese to give responsibly, we created an alternate currency to hand to street children named the Good Note. Unlike bank notes, it can only be spent on good things at Bou Khalil supermarkets and its affiliated pharmacy (with restrictions on alcohol and tobacco). The name in Arabic is “Alf Kheir” (1000 blessings), a common Arabic expression to signify that the world is a good place. The 1000 (or Alf) is used here to hint to the 1000 Lebanese note (the smallest denomination of Lebanese currency, typically given to beggars). Similarly, the design references the Lebanese 1000-pound note, however additional purple tones give out warmth. Design elements at the center reflect the streets, surrounded by the necessities that street children can buy with the note such as food, personal hygiene items and medicine. The note is sealed with the pledge “In this note we trust to spread good change”, as the note aims to change the giving habits of the Lebanese by establishing trust and to give good change instead of cash change to street children. The note is printed on foldable yet cost effective material, so that like currency it can be folded and put in pockets.
Indication of how successful the outcome was in the market
Designing an alternate currency and bringing it to life, resonated with the Lebanese by effectively demonstrating the problem of giving money to street children while simultaneously providing a functional and usable solution. The Good Note was covered by local media and international media including Voice of America, Sky News Arabia, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Shots magazine, Yahoo News and Arabic Economic forum. In less than one month, public interest generated $4.2 million in earned media and PR and reached an estimated 20 million social media users. This buzz led local business to pour in to partner with the initiative, selling Good Notes at their venues. Good Notes are now not only on sale at Bou Khalil supermarkets and its affiliated pharmacy, but at cafes, bars, bookstores, chocolatiers, baby stores and even renowned jewelers. The interest was so high that we are now ready for a reprint of the Good Note. With more than 25 million Lebanese pounds worth of Good Notes circulating around the country one month into the initiative, we got the Lebanese to give again and turned a supermarket chain into a social service network.