Co-op Community: Timely response to a difficult year

co-op1The Co-operative Group has come a long way since 1844 when the weavers of Lancashire joined together to set up the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers and open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford. But, 176 years later,  that same community spirit has become a key part of the organisation’s response to the Covid crisis.

While Co-op was one of the first retailers to launch an initiative to help those in need back in March, more recently it refreshed its membership programme, making a commitment that 2p in every pound spent by members on own brand products would go to local community causes, doubling what had previously been donated. This year Co-op is paying out £15m from its membership programme, a figure which is now set to reach £30m in 2021.

And what better way than to highlight its pledge that, after a doubly hard year for everyone, the convenience retailer is doubling the amount of money it gives back to community causes than a new ad campaign?

Based on a poem written in conjunction with up-and-coming spoken word artist Sarah Adedeji – specifically penned to encapsulate how everything has felt doubly difficult this year – agency Lucky Generals is aiming to deliver a message of hope that by working together we will emerge twice as strong.

The ad kicks off with a girl leaving her house and getting on her bike as the first line of the poem plays out: “Everything’s sort of double this year, isn’t it? We’re doing double shifts at double the speed, and to the virus we will not concede.”

As she continues her journey through the alleyways and roads of her own community she passes a nurse coming home from a shift, neighbours checking in on each other, and a socially distanced exercise class. It ends with the line: “With all the people giving nothing less than double, up is the only way we’ll build out of this rubble.”

The ad is part one of the retailer’s winter 2020 campaign, with part two focusing on Christmas and launching early next month. Both ads have a central theme of the importance of community, and the tangible positive difference which can be made in these communities by those who live, work and trade there.

The TV ad will be backed by a print and digital partnership with the Mail Metro group and radio executions on Global stations.

Digital versions have been developed by Kin + Carta, while long copy press ads outline exactly how the Co-op directly funds local community projects, from £2.6m of free school meal vouchers to 104 community centres.  There will also be an outdoor element, with instore delivered by ITG and PR by Halpern.

Co-op chief membership and customer officer Matt Atkinson, the former Tesco and EHS chief, said: “I’m so proud of this advert and campaign. It’s amazing what can happen when small acts of cooperation and support all add up to make a significant impact to the communities we all live in and rely on.

“The poem cleverly describes how this year has been doubly hard for nearly everyone and we have responded as an organisation with our members support, to double our donations to the many thousands of local community causes we work with across the UK.”

Lucky Generals creatives Sam Beaumont and Jesse Sharpe-O’Hare added: “It’s not just Co-op giving double this year, it feels like literally everyone has been – and still is – working at least twice as hard to keep life moving. So, when working out how to tell people about this ‘double support’, it only felt right to talk about it from their perspective.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?

Well, it’s not that often that retailers and their agencies just get it, but this is a classic example of an ad that feels authentic, timely, and genuine.

Let’s face it, it has been a shit year for many and while some supermarket shareholders have been handed hundreds of millions of pounds in payouts, Co-op’s shareholders are its customers, not big City investors. And what could be more community-spirited than that?

So, hats off to Lucky Generals and Sarah Adedeji, a great double act.

Decision Marketing Adometer: A “double bubble” 10 out of 10


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