This campaign is a Direct campaign, because it aims to change the perception and relationship of clients and potential clients with the brand, by rallying them behind a greater cause. And all this starting right inside our stores. The direct reaction of consumers to this campaign is proof of their endorsement of the brand and its fight.
A two-fold problem:
- Since the 1990s, Carrefour has fought for a more sustainable agriculture for the planet, farmers’ rights, and consumers’ health. We’re the first generalist retailer of organic products in France and the first retailer to forbid GMOs in our stores in 1996. But nobody knows it. Why? Because we’re the leader in a country that doesn’t like retailers.
- We came against an insurmontable obstacle : the law. 90% of farmable varieties have already disappeared worldwide. Among these, only 3% are allowed. Why? Because an absurd European law forbids « farmers’ varieties ».
Use Carrefour's leadership power to fight for biodiversity, rally consumers to our fight and change the relationship with the brand for clients and potential clients.
Three objectives, politics, brand, business : Achieve a real political change in favor of biodiversity, that impacts Carrefour’s brand image in the long run, and drives traffic.
Describe the creative idea
Carrefour launched the Black Supermarket, a campaign that defies the law to change the law.
Illegal Black Supermarkets were created in Carrefour’s stores nationally to sell our illegal range of cereals, vegetables, and fruits. We asked people to join the cause by buying the illegal products in our stores and by signing our petition on Change.org to change the law. Print, outdoor, web films and our instore BlackSupermarket installations revealed the absurdity of the law, and turned our illegal producers into national heroes. Against the law, we signed a 5-year supply contract with them, and invited key opinion leaders to witness the signature.
Against powerful lobbies, we chose the illegal path to make sure we’d be heard by key opinion leaders, the public, and politicians up to Brussels where decisions are made. It was the first time a retailer broke the law to make it change.
Describe the strategy
After 40 years of prohibition, we needed a grand gesture: both to mobilize consumers in favor of Farmers’ varieties, and to demonstrate that a retail leader can be a force for good, for better and more sustainable food. What better shot than to confront lobbies directly in defiance of the law?
Our strategy to generate a direct consumer response was simple: against lobbies working behind closed doors, we chose provocation before the eyes of all. We used our first medium: our stores, to sell our illegal range to everyone, allowing consumers to show their support by buying en masse. Our call to action for consumers was straightforward: to change the law, choose illegal varieties, and sign the petition. To get maximum awareness, we launched the campaign during the French National Food Forum, a major government summit reuniting politicians and the food industry.
Describe the execution
We prelaunched the BlackSupermarket on September 19th, with an « illegal dinner », inviting KOLs, inspiring them to focus The National Food Forum’s debate on farmers’ seeds.
Then, on September 20th, our illegal BlackSupermarkets opened in our stores nationally. We enabled people to buy and taste these deliciously illegal varieties, and discover they’re richer in nutrients, taste, and better for the environment. With our in-store BlackSupermarkets installations, we made every effort to reveal the absurdity of the law to prompt the desired consumer reactions: buy the products and sign our Change.org petition. We staged 600 forbidden varieties in huge herbariums. We showed the faces of our illegal producers sued by lobbies. Our black staging emphasized these magnificent products never tasted before by the public. Meanwhile, our web film revealed the issue to all, and our producers lent their voice on as many media as possible, asking to sign the petition.
List the results
Behavior: People were baffled to discover the issue. When presented with a choice, they overwhelmingly chose farmers’ varieties over regular ones. We sold 70 tons (our maximum, due to scarce illegal supply). It drove instore traffic by 15% and the entire produce section benefited as sales grew by 10%. Consumers’ mobilization went well beyond our stores as they signed the petition en masse (+ 85000 signatures).
Politics: The idea hacked the conversation on the French National Food Forum and generated a national debate, with 300M media impressions (69% online, driving to our petition). Thanks to public mobilization, on April 19th 2018, the European Parliament ratified a new regulation on organic agriculture reauthorizing sale and cultivation of farmers’ seeds (Procedure 2014/0100(COD)).
Brand: Finally, Carrefour’s commitment for food quality was revealed in broad daylight. It changed people’s opinion, with 8% increase in brand love following the campaign (from 65% to 73%).