When Covid-19 forced the UK into lockdown in March 2020, increasing already significant levels of food insecurity, the Co-op made the decision to scrap its planned Easter campaign and use the £2.5m worth of airtime to promote a new national fundraising campaign for FareShare instead.
The supermarket made a £1.5m donation to get the ball rolling, which quickly garnered the public support of Marcus Rashford on Twitter. Less than a month later, he was starring alongside Co-op colleagues in a TV campaign for FareShare – all without expecting a penny – and on the cusp of spearheading one of the greatest government U-turns in UK political history.
When Rashford sent out a tweet asking for advice on how to use his influence to persuade the government to reverse their decision not to extend the free school meal voucher scheme to cover the school holidays, Co-op responded privately with an offer to help. Two days later and Rashford wrote an open letter to MPs which he broadcast on social media, urging them to #maketheturn.
The Co-op campaign, with Rashford front and centre, raised more than £20m and provided food for over 4 million children – more than 10 times the initial target. Rashford’s efforts also led the government to reverse its decision on school meal vouchers and make a second U-turn when it announced a £400m winter grant scheme to support a further 1.4 million children in England.
Co-op Food achieved record scores in three core brand-tracking metrics, with ‘positive feeling’ rising to 31%, ‘champions important issues’ rising to 68% and ‘gives back to the community’ rising to 73%.
For all of this, and for helping to establish child food poverty in the national consciousness as one of the most pressing issues of our time, Co-op and creative agency partner Lucky Generals won 2021’s Marketing Week Masters award for Best Use of Influencers.