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Co-op’s unswerving journey to Growth

The Co-op Group’s recent media pitch focused on selecting a new agency partner to unify their diverse family of businesses to become ‘One Co-op’.

Operating across Food Retail, Funeralcare, General Insurance and Legal Services, the brand was already on the path of internal transformation through its ‘Fuel for Growth’ programme.

The media pitch itself required a change of focus for the participants, as Co-op is nothing like the other businesses of the modern economy. In contrast to first world business practices of promoting organisational wealth creation, competition and profitability, the Co-op is about individuals contributing to the harmony and well-being of the community.

‘The Co-op set out with one goal – to unify the Co-op under one voice, to become ‘One Co-op’”

The Co-op is a purpose driven brand with a unified approach to communication which holds the power to build a new economic discourse and instigate societal change. The major pillar of delivering on this ambition rests on its communication strategy to consumers, and so the Co-op sought a partner that would deliver on this ambition.

“The Co-op set out with one goal – to unify the Co-op under one voice, to become ‘One Co-op’,” said Graham Brown, Co-founder, MediaSense. “This was a major part of the brief set – the agencies needed to fully grasp their values and relay across all of their businesses.”

Inevitably, the spotlight of the pitch for One Co-op fell on agency culture, values and foundational principles at the base of all operations. Agencies were challenged to deliver a twofold strategy: anchoring the common good at the center, but at the same time delivering on ambitious sales targets for each individual business.

Agencies were encouraged to demonstrate they had “skin in the game” by committing to embrace Co-op’s vision in a tangible way. For instance, one agency responded to the challenge by committing to invest 25p for each £1 of their bonus back into Co-op’s local community causes.

Agencies found the central challenge within the brief (delivering a single brand strategy for an organisation consisting of such diverse businesses) a tough nut to crack. They had to demonstrate they understood the delicate nature of a business like Funeralcare, but also the hard, performance-driven capabilities required in the General Insurance market.

Just as importantly, agencies had to evidence proficiency in retail to deliver on the ambitions of the Food stores in a fiercely competitive marketplace, whilst preparing for a shift to e-commerce in the near future.

“They are becoming more ambitious in their brand approach, but one of their other ambitions is to move into the e-commerce space in the near future,” said Brown. “It was important that the agencies recognised and matched their ambitions in their response.”

The brief set agencies the arduous challenge of developing a ‘One Co-op’ media strategy which could optimise investment in each business unit, but would also be more than the sum of its parts – a strategy that goes beyond channel selection by bringing out the unique Co-op purpose to generate competitive advantage.

Co-op is making a bold, yet simple statement: additional value creation allows the business to invest in their customers, members and colleagues instead of investing more in advertising

Even though no agency truly found the holy grail to this challenge, we arrived closer to the brand’s essence. “This was a unique pitch to be part of, the agencies were challenged on more than planning and buying, they had to fully understand the Co-op brand,” said Brown. “Dentsu Aegis demonstrated an unparalleled knowledge of brand unification which set them apart from the other agencies.”

By instigating both internal and external transformation embodied in a new media partnership with compelling performance commitments, Co-op is making a bold, yet simple statement: additional value creation allows the business to invest in their customers, members and colleagues instead of investing more in advertising.

Unquestionably, this is the road to building an advantage in the marketplace and becoming a more meaningful brand in the lives of consumers. In a society where people would not care if 74% of brands of today disappeared, meaningfulness through brand’s purpose must be a crucial ingredient for success.

We look forward to seeing how Dentsu Aegis will bring this new brand voice to life.

 

The Co-op pitch was managed by MediaSense, global media advisors specialising in adding value for the world’s leading brands. Find out more about our Pitch Management services: www.media-sense.com/pitch-management

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