Co-op's first ads from Lucky Generals unite the entire business behind community

The Co-op has united its food, insurance and funeralcare businesses for the first time as it embraces an over-arching marketing strategy to show how the entire company is funding community programs across the UK.

Ali Jones, customer director of the Co-op told The Drum that since taking on the role at the start of 2018 (from Carat), she has been working to help bring these brands behind a unified marketing message (and spend). New strapline 'It’s what we do' solidifies community purpose as a tenant of the entire company, rather than a CSR add-on or "lip service" as the campaign press release said.

This multi-million pound advertising campaign, the first from new creative agency Lucky Generals, informs viewers that 1% of their spend at the Co-op funds local schemes. It illustrates how a funeral plan or car insurance can improve the lives of customers and those around them.

Jones said: "When I joined we weren't really telling a joint that story. There was each business's story and on occasion, they would talk about some of the good things they did. But they fuel each other if the whole business does well. If the customers engage with our products and services, we can do more for communities. Now customers get a stronger affinity to the brand and they want to be part of what we do. "

The performance of the Co-op Food has enabled greater spend to gel the company together on the marketing front.

Jones said: "The Co op has grown stronger so we can continue to do more and invest in the community. We have insurance, funeralcare and food working closer together around one set of customers. We had to get ourselves operating more cohesively."

Since its launch in 2016, Co-op’s Local Community Fund has helped over 12,000 causes with a share of £39m. The brand had to clearly signify this.

It underwent a propositional review to learn what aspects of the company the public cares about or is motivated by. And finally, it found the differentiating aspects to help the supermarket stand out from retail rivals. Across 96 proof points, these traits were uncovered and will be hammered home in coming work. Jones teased plastic as an issue its audience cares deeply about for example.

The media strategy from Dentsu Aegis Network has two prongs. Co-op is chasing mass awareness first by debuting the campaign on Saturday during Britain’s Got Talent on ITV (18 May). A bumper buy saw three ads appear in one ad break.

The next strategy is to help the national retailer talk about its local work using hyper-local targeting in cinemas and out of home ad panels. It claims to have 120 out of home executions with personalised creative. In 222 local cinemas it is also running the 30-second masterfilm with a 10-second local add-on.

Jones said that the community schemes are incredibly localized and it only makes sense to reflect this in how the media is executed. "We've taken this thinking right through to the media planning, which I think is a really important way of showing that we're a national brand with the grand scale of that but that we actually care about is what's happening in local communities."

Helen Calcraft, Lucky Generals founder, added some insight in working on the campaign.

“Co-op is an incredible organisation, whose values are more relevant than ever. This is a big idea that can unite all its activities and capture what makes it so special."

Vote for the campaign below in The Drum's Creative Works.

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