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FCB Inferno and The Big Issue Launch Pay It Forward to Create the World’s First Resellable Magazine

Press Release - London, 01 April 2019

Social enterprise has partnered with digital bank Monzo to help Big Issue magazine vendors earn more by making every reader a potential seller

The Big Issue has today enlisted the help of celebrities including Gary Lineker, Roger Daltrey and Vincent Kompany to announce the launch of Pay It Forward, which turns The Big Issue into the world’s first “resellable magazine.” 

The system, created by creative agency FCB Inferno and powered by Monzo, means each magazine can be sold-on after each time it’s been read, doing good wherever it goes.  Each magazine will come with its own scannable QR code, that allows readers to pass the magazine onto a friend, who can then scan the code to pay for it again. 

The scheme aims to help vulnerable magazine sellers earn more and counter the issues the homeless are facing in an increasingly cashless society. 

A host of celebrities including Gary Lineker, Roger Daltrey, Vincent Kompany, Alistair Stewart and the cast of Wicked have bought copies of the magazine, which are now in general circulation, with the special QR code editions starting to run this Monday.

Big Issue vendors sell, on average, one magazine for every hour worked and for each sale, they earn £1.25. Unlike begging, selling The Big Issue offers vulnerable people the means to earn a legitimate income, develop money management skills, build networks and ultimately reintegrate into mainstream society. 

Pay It Forward levels the playing field, and offers magazine vendors the opportunity to earn extra money from the onward sale of the magazine, making the time they spend on their pitch more lucrative. The process: “Buy it. Read it. Sell it on” – can be repeated many times over, creating a virtuous cycle.

This revolutionisation of the Big Issue business model coincides with recent data showing that 4,677 people bedded down on the streets or in sheds and tents in 2018. A figure 165% higher than in 2010.

For the trial launch, Monzo supported up to 20 sellers around the UK to open Monzo bank accounts. The money from all their sales via Pay It Forward will go straight into their Monzo accounts. Having a bank account and debit card will let them safely save and pay for goods and services in a way that many of us take for granted. This means that the project will also get vendors into the financial system, a crucial step on their journey away from the streets.   

Unlike many other banks, Monzo doesn’t need customers to have a fixed address. People only need access to an address (like a friend’s house or a shelter) where Monzo can post their card, making it easier for homeless people to access bank accounts.

As well as making it possible for subsequent customers to buy the magazine without cash, this innovative model also gives the sellers far greater reach, and The Big Issue a unique way to spread its positive message even further. It also answers an environmental issue by ensuring each issue is well read before it gets recycled.

Aaron Dunn, 30, who sells The Big Issue in Covent Garden, said: “It is great because you get to earn extra money on top of the sales you make off the magazine. You never know how far it is going to go. One of my magazines has already been passed around over 20 times!”

Owen Lee, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Inferno, said: “By turning every Big Issue buyer into a potential seller, we’ll activate a huge and untapped force for good with each vendor being the head of a chain of entrepreneurship.”

“While all Big Issue magazines are made to do good, this means that every magazine can keep on doing good.”

Lew Isaacs, Vulnerability Specialist, Monzo, said: “In the last ten years, the number of cash payments has halved. And although paying by card is convenient, the falling use of cash has real consequences for people in poverty and organisations like The Big Issue. 

“We hope Pay It Forward will help grow the earnings of Big Issue sellers when readers pass the magazine onto their friends.” 

“Our goal is to give more vulnerable people access to financial services, and help The Big Issue continue its crucial work.” 

Lara McCullagh, Director of Marketing and Communications, The Big Issue said: “The people who buy The Big Issue aren’t just readers, they’re often vocal champions of our mission. This fantastic new scheme, in partnership with Monzo, gives them a way to further support their local vendor by selling the magazine onto friends and family, and offers those same vendors the opportunity to grow their income and their customer base.” 

Creative agency FCB Inferno first started working with The Big Issue in 2015, when they created and funded “Change Please,” which provides former homeless people with a home to rent and a full London living wage, while they are trained as baristas to run the coffee carts. The agency then partnered with The Big Issue and The Old Spike Roastery to build it into a business, and it’s so far taken over 85 people off the streets. 


FCB Inferno

Creative Director: Ben Edwards

Creative Director: Guy Hobbs

Creative Director: Martin McAllister

Senior Strategist: Laura Pirkis

Director of European Communications and PR: CC Clark

Senior Creative Producer: Bridie Scriven

Senior Designer: Becci Salmon

Senior Account Director: Isabelle Soskice

Account Director: Gemma Corridan

Producer: Hanna Davis

Photographer: Jack Margerison

Senior Artworker: Matt Johnson

The Big Issue

Director of Marketing and Communications: Laura McCullagh


Vulnerability Specialist: Lewis Isaacs 

Engineer: Kunal Singhal

Engineer: Paul Cuthbertson




About FCB Inferno

FCB Inferno is one of London’s leading advertising agencies, and part of global advertising network FCB. The network dates back to 1873, and now has 9000 employees in 90 countries, with 150 at FCB Inferno.

The agency’s clients sit across industry sectors and currently include the UK Government (for which they created the “This Girl Can” brand), BMW, Huawei, NIVEA, Sky and UEFA. FCB Inferno received two Grand Prix awards at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity in 2015 and 2016.  

FCB Inferno believes the world needs more interesting, and creates interesting ideas for brands that people find emotionally relevant and engage with in deeper, more meaningful ways. Research proves time and again that the more interesting the idea, the more it gets noticed and captures hearts and minds. In a world where we are bombarded daily by thousands of messages, interesting gives you a commercial edge.

FCB Inferno was voted Agency of the Year 2018 at the inaugural Campaigns for Good Awards, as well as the top UK agency promoting good causes for the last two years by The Good Report, ranking third overall in the list of international agencies. 

About Monzo 

Monzo is the UK’s fastest-growing bank, and more than 1.5 million people are using its current account. They’ve spent more than £4 billion with their hot coral Monzo cards so far, and recently voted Monzo the UK’s best bank in Which?’s annual survey.

The bank is committed to improving financial inclusion by finding ways to help people get access to bank accounts. It recently launched its #NoBarriersToBanking campaign, that aims to give the unbanked support and raise awareness of the effects of financial exclusion. 

About The Big Issue 

The Big Issue is a social enterprise which exists to dismantle poverty through creating opportunities for people and communities.

The Big Issue is an award-winning weekly entertainment and current affairs magazine, which offers a new hope for homeless and vulnerably housed people across the UK. Vendors buy magazines for £1.25 and sell to the public for £2.50, keeping the difference. In this way, the magazine provides them with the means to earn a legitimate income. In the run up to Christmas, the magazine increases in size and the price rises to £3.

Vendors come from a variety of backgrounds and face a range of issues, but all are experiencing the effects of poverty. Upon becoming a Big Issue vendor, they receive training, are allocated a fixed pitch from which to vend, and must agree to adhere to a code of conduct while selling the magazine.

Since its launch in 1991, over 200 million copies of The Big Issue magazine have been sold by over 100,000 vulnerable people. 

Paul McNamee, Editor of The Big Issue magazine, currently holds the position of Chair of PPA Scotland. He was named BSME’s British Editor of the Year in 2013 and 2016, and PPA Scotland Editor of the Year in 2009, 2011 and 2013.

The Big Issue Foundation is the organisation’s charitable arm, which exists to link vendors with the vital support which will help them address the issues which have led or contributed to their circumstances. The Foundation works exclusively with vendors, offering support, advice and referrals. 

Big Issue Invest extends The Big Issue’s mission by financing the growth of sustainable social enterprises and charities across the UK. Big Issue Invest offers loans and investment from £20,000 to £3 million. Since launching in 2005, we have invested in over 330 organisations, all of which have positively influenced the lives of people across the UK. We currently manage or advise £170 million of social funds. Created by social entrepreneurs, for social entrepreneurs, Big Issue Invest is the world’s first ‘Social Merchant Bank’ and a stead-fast champion of social enterprise. For more information go to: