The idea behind the festive push, created by Manning Gottlieb OMD, is to get people to bake something to give to a friend, share the photo using the #bakeitforward hashtag and nominate a friend to do the same. As an added incentive, Waitrose will be rewarding some of the people that get involved with treats such as bottles of champagne and Christmas hampers.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Ellwood says the campaign is the most high-profile example of a social-first strategy at Waitrose, which sees it launching a campaign in social media before taking it to other channels.
While the #bakeitforward campaign builds on the idea introduced in Waitrose’s TV brand campaign, which shows a young girl baking gingerbread for her school, this concept was designed purely for social.
That builds on some trials Waitrose ran last year with specific campaigns, for example around Mothers Day. The #thanksmum push was “all in social media”, says Ellwood, with no above-the-line spend.
“We are running specific campaigns that we start in social media and then take to other channels, working with our online communities, who are highly engaged and love talking about food. We want to build that community,” he adds.
The aim, said Ellwood, is to tap into a social media revolution that is changing the way people engage with food, much as it changed the fashion industry.
“The way people engage with food has completely changed and the shareability of what we are eating, cooking, where we’ve eaten has really been enhanced by social.”
Rupert Ellwood, Waitrose head of marketing
“Food has become like fashion, the way that people with engage with food has completely changed and the shareability of what we are eating, cooking, where we’ve eaten has really been enhanced by social in the same way fashion was enabled through that channel. There is a real opportunity, especially where Waitrose is positioned at the inspirational end, to capitalise on this,” says Ellwood.
Waitrose is also upping its investment in social media. Until now, Ellwood said the supermarket focus is on “quality over quantity” and engagement rather than reach. That has meant it has relied on customers being advocates and organic sharing.
However, Waitrose is now putting more money into paid support in social and digital to extend that reach.
“The marketing mix is certainly changing and we are not afraid to do that. The investment is still comparatively lower, that is the thing about social, it is about creating genuine campaigns not putting out promotional messages. Customers who are connected through social don’t want to be overly sold to, it takes away the purpose of sharing and engaging. It is mainly around inspiration,” he adds.
The challenge, says Ellwood, is to come up with innovative content ideas that work in social but can also connect to its physical stores and online presence and plays into its overall business strategy. For #bakeitforward Waitrose is introducing “Icing Station” in more than 150 shops that will offer gingerbread decorating classes over the final two weekends in November.
That taps into moves Waitrose is making to provide a more experiential shopping experience in stores and ensure it connects its marketing campaigns to branches. It has already introducing wine tastings and cookery classes at a number of stores to “soften the customer journey and provide something slightly different in-store”, says Ellwood.
Meanwhile, the Waitrose website will provide a range of recipes and its Weekend magazine will also offer some inspiration on baking. There will also be promotions running around bakery.