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Pub group calls on Co-op to pull “disgraceful” television campaign

The Campaign for Pubs group has written to the boss of the Co-op calling on them to pull “a quite disgraceful” television advert.

The ad in question, suggests customers buy a beer and a pizza from the supermarket, and watch the football at home. While the online advertising just says: “The football done right,” it’s the television version, which has caused the anger, as it shows a tiny corner of a TV with football on it, with the voice over: “It’s hard to see the screen in the pub, stay in with 2 pizzas and 4 beers.”

“We represent pubs and publicans. Publicans are frankly disgusted, as well as deeply angry, that the Co-op is running this advert. You and your management team must surely be aware of what a challenging time it is for pubs and publicans, yet here you are, a supposedly ethical business, openly and deliberately undermining pubs and publicans’ livelihoods at this difficult time. It frankly beggars belief,” wrote Paul Crossman, the Chair of the York-based Campaign for Pubs.

“At the time when businesses in England should be uniting in support of the national football team, the Co-op has instead cynically and shamelessly sought to attack another important business sector to try to boost your own profits from the tournament. It really goes against everything that the Co-op movement stands for. Who on Earth thought this was an acceptable thing to do? Who signed this off? It shows appalling judgement on the part of your marketing team and agencies as well as a worrying lack of moral responsibility and ethical leadership.”

The letter, has been sent to Shirine Khoury-Haq, the CEO of the Co-operative Group.

The letter said it could “in response, call for a boycott of all Co-op supermarkets, which no doubt many publicans would back. However, we are not going to do that, because in contrast to the disgraceful attitude the Co-op has shown towards pubs, we would not want to put at risk any of the jobs of your staff and we also recognise that in some areas, Co-op convenience stores are the only shop available to communities.

“If only Co-op food has such simple guiding principles and leadership to guide its promotional activity. Instead, we are asking you to apologise to UK publicans for this utterly crass and divisive advert and to agree to pull it, so it is not shown any more during the Euros. We also ask that you commit not to run any such adverts, telling people not to go to the pub in future or undermining pubs.

“Please reassure us that as CEO for the Co-op that you will stop such divisive, crass and unethical marketing now and in the future.”

A Co-op spokesperson told us: 

“The 10 second advert is a light-hearted way of highlighting to our members and customers that, if they have made the choice to stay in to watch the football, we have a cracking pizza and beer deal they can purchase to enjoy in their homes, with the sole intention of providing great value on relevant products which customers tell us they want, especially at a time when the cost of living is high.”

Hmm, they may have fooled us into promote their pizza and beer deal. So, we’d better say there are also very good deals on at the local pubs too.

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