Co-op brings retro rebrand to TV with promise of impromptu BBQs

The Co-op is launching the first TV ad of its retro-inspired rebrand, "Be as unpredictable as summer".

Airing for the first time tonight during Emmerdale at 7pm on ITV, the 40-second spot celebrates the British inclination to make the most of unexpected good summer weather, whenever it arrives.

It is the first ad by Leo Burnett for The Co-operative Group since it successfully retained the ad account earlier this year

It stars a group of friends, who, through a series of serendipitous encounters, wind up having an unplanned barbecue on the beach.

Four 10-second clips will run alongside the full version, supported by six sheets posters, digital banner ads and responsive digital out of home displays.

"The British summer is a wonderful, if erratic season, and you need to be in the right state of mind to get the most out of it", said Co-op customer director Jemima Bird.

"The new Co-op summer campaign encourages just that – go where the sun is, where the fun is, think outside the box and be as unpredictable as summer."

The ad was art directed by Mark Franklin, written by Rob Tenconi and directed by Thirty Two through Pulse. Rocket handles media for The Co-op.

Leo Burnett CEO Paul Lawson said the intention of the ad was to show that "Co-op, summer and spontaneity are perfect bedfellows".

Back to the future

The Co-op’s visual overhaul, which sees the return of its classic cloverleaf-style logo, was revealed at the weekend and has already started appearing across its store network and own brand products.

I can’t work out what this return to the past is meant to convey. It’s cold, it’s basic, it’s simplistic, it’s unashamedly retro. Is that what Co-op wants to be known for?

In a statement, the retailer said that the new look had been chosen because it "links to a time when people understood how they could be co-owners of their Co-op and how a strong Co-op could help to create strong communities."

Freelance marketing director Helen Bridgett, who spent nine years in marketing at The Co-op until 2012, told Campaign the new identity had the potential to repair the damage done to the brand in recent years.

"The Co-op really is a much loved brand," she said. "Customers had real affection for the business and I think that the scandals of recent years caused real dismay amongst advocates. With the retro rebrand, the business is saying that they're back to old values and hopefully re-engaging the millions of members who care about the business."

But Jim Prior, chief executive at The Partners and Lambie-Nairn, said the visual cues were off the mark.

"As an exercise in graphic craft, this ticks the on-trend box," he said. "But as an exercise in codifying a brand proposition it’s completely off base. I can’t work out what this return to the past, however cute it is, is meant to convey. It’s cold, it’s basic, it’s simplistic, it’s unashamedly retro. Is that what Co-op wants to be known for? Of course not."

On Twitter, reactions to the new look were mostly positive

Even from skeptics

Though not universally

While one wag pointed out that the move could feel a touch uncomfortable for many in the marketing industry