Describe any restrictions or regulations regarding Healthcare/RX/Pharma communications in your country/region including
It is a campaign for public health, to change a European law regulating our food. No restrictions concerning healthcare or Pharma communications applied.
Describe the target audience and why your work is relevant to them.
Pharma audience types:
In Europe, we are suffering an aberration. While doctors say that good nutrition is the best preventive healthcare, Europe regulates against products that would be better for the health of consumers, farmers, and future generations: organic Farmers’ varieties. We have decided to go outside the law to change it.?
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
To change the Law, Carrefour decided to defy the law, and launched the BlackSupermarket.
Illegal BlackSupermarket installations were created in Carrefour’s stores nationally to sell illegal varieties 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 opinion, and politicians up to Brussels where decisions are made. It was the first time a retailer broke the law to make it change.
Why is this work relevant for PR?
This campaign is a PR campaign because it aimed to trigger a national debate to influence the political agenda to change a European law. Against the powerful lobbies of agro-chemistry, mobilizing the media, public opinion, as well as key ambassadors and key opinion leaders was the only possible approach to reach our objective. In this campaign, we put ourselves at risk by using our privileged position as the market leader to tip the balance for a fair cause.
Describe the strategy
Changing a European law is an impossible mission when you’re up against the powerful agrochemical lobby. We could have chosen the legal way: submit a bill, work our way up the bureaucratie, and wait years to see it crushed by lobbies. But after 40 years of prohibition and dozens of draft laws had been rejected in the total indifference of the media, we chose the most unconventional, noisiest way, the illegal way.
To get maximum awareness, we launched the campaign during the French National Food Forum, a major government summit reuniting politicians and the food industry. We first targeted KOLs - chefs, philosophers, prominent journalists - to put farmers’ seeds on the public agenda. We then targeted the general public to create a plebiscite for the cause and bend the political agenda. Our strategy was simple, against lobbies working behind closed doors, we chose provocation before the eyes of all.
Describe the execution
The campaign prelaunched on September 19th, with an exclusive « illegal dinner » with chef Christophe Saintagne inviting KOLs and journalists to discover these delicious illegal varieties. They witnessed the signature of the illegal 5-year supply contract with producers, and the donation of 1Million€ to our biodiversity fund for farmers’ seeds preservation. We launched our change.org petition during the event, so KOLs would be the first signatories and the first to share the petition. It allowed us to rally powerful ambassadors: journalists, chefs - usually critical of the retail industry - to fuel the conversation.
Then, on September 20th, our illegal BlackSupermarkets opened in our stores nationally, allowing everybody to support the cause. Our web film - starring our illegal producers - revealed and explained the issue to the general public. Our producers lent their voice on as many media outlets as we could, asking people 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%).