Grocer Towers is often the scene of fearsome debate, as our newshounds compare leads, dissect the strategies of the companies we write about and, most commonly, row about whose turn it is to make the tea.
Today sparks were flying between two members of the news team over the latest ad for The Co-op, which debuted its much-lauded, multimillion-pound Blowin’ in the Wind campaign round about this time of year in 2009.
Perhaps inspired by events in Egypt, Tunisia and beyond, the theme of The Co-op’s new ad, which airs this evening, is revolution.
But while there’s a clock counting down to revolution on the society’s website (it reaches Zero Hour at about 9.15pm tonight), the ad itself turns to the past, with a misty-eyed look at the birth of the co-operative movement.
Our Grocer debaters are split over whether the advert is another worthy addition to the Dylan-esque canon of co-operative niceness or, to put it kindly, missing the point rather.
Increasingly the society is looking to turn its new adverts into TV events, as brands like Hovis and Cadbury have achieved so spectacularly. And it’s certainly not the first retailer to play the heritage card; remember M&S and its penny bazaars, for instance, also in 2009.
But with the UK’s biggest grocers currently focusing harder than ever on price – and its own food sales falling – can The Co-op really afford to spend millions proselytising about the righteousness of its business model? At least Blowin’ in the Wind had stuff about Fairtrade, farmers and, you know, the products on its shelves.
More generously, you might view the revolution theme as the continuation of a bold and refreshing strategy that addresses the UK’s climate of political unease and some shoppers’ mounting cynicism over traditional big business.
A third interpretation – and that of the author – is that the new campaign is simply a welcome change from that less-than-photogenic couple clucking over how shopping at The Co-op means they can spend more time doing the wild thing while the kids are watching cartoons downstairs.
For that reason, if no other, we should be glad this particular revolution will be televised.
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