Bringing Christmas warmth to the Co-op Community Fridge

Here’s how ITV invited Britain into a Community Fridge in Feltham, during a unique LIVE ad break, growing demand for 500 community projects, and increasing Co-op’s long-term ROI by 35% to £4.16.

A little background

The Co-op’s relationship with ITV was quite literally ‘cemented’ when we built a real-life Co-op Food store on our legendary Coronation Street cobbles in 2018. It’s not only weaved its way into storylines over the years, but the product placement has supported Co-op initiatives such as plastic recycling bins at all UK stores. For 178 years, the Co-op has stood for community, fairness and helping local people and the planet. It was natural for the Co-op to form a partnership with Hubbub, an environmental charity, to create 350 new Community Fridges across the UK. This ensures that surplus food across retailers or other suppliers can be used in the best way possible- to feed people- and increase community wellbeing through gathering around food we all love. As Christmas approached, Carat UK brought ITV into their plans for authentic community impact, on its smaller festive budget.

The insight

Community Fridges aren’t objects... they’re special places that come to life through the people who use and support them: real locations where locals gather, share food, learn to cook and support one another. There’s always something going on, in which case...

The big idea

... we would broadcast a completely LIVE ad to show the world what’s happening in one right now! The Co-op had a limited Xmas budget (usually 4.12% SOV) so with expensive CGI effects off the table, production costs could be directly channelled towards the cause, allowing for a more authentic creative treatment in a single live broadcast moment. Under Carat UK and The Story Lab's steer, ITV worked alongside ITN’s production expertise and Lucky Generals’ creative direction to produce and air the ad on 26th November 2022.

Making it happen

The ad launched in Corrie’s centre break, with a 10- second ‘ITV Proudly Presents’ continuity introduction. ITV’s Dermot O’Leary then hosted a 2-minute ad, beaming live from the Afghan Central Asian Centre’s Community Fridge, which is directly supported by the local Feltham Co-op. We first met Dermot on the street, just before he entered the building to join volunteers, customers, and celebrity DJ, rapper and chef Big Zuu, in the hubbub of the vibrant centre.

Viewers could experience the warmth and buzz of those sharing meals and conversation: volunteer Sarah explained that the fridge helps avoid food wastage, and is to be used by anyone in the community; older user Joseph shared that it’s where he catches up with community news; and a 7-yr old lad told Dermot how he prefered pizza to Big Zuu’s cauliflower curry!

Needless to say, a live ad carries a lot of jeopardy, and we had to mitigate for multiple risks.


One key challenge was that we needed to have the ad formally cleared for broadcast, so Clearcast were present on site. They cleared the content from an ‘as live’ rehearsal a few minutes before the actual broadcast.

This rehearsal recording became our back-up in case of tech failure. Teaser ads had aired a few days before the live ad to create interest. Further content, with more details of Co-op’s support, went live across social, print and digital after the broadcast moment itself.


The results

70% 70% of the 4.2m campaign reach was delivered via earned media. Over 75 pieces of coverage across Print, Radio and TV helped Co-op’s budget pack a punch.

+46% Within 24 hours, social conversation grew 46%, with 100% positive sentiment towards the Community initiative. Over 500 Community Fridges were requested nationally.

+35% Profit and purpose can co-exist: the partnership alone drove an ROI of £2.10, and long-term ROI sat at £4.16 for the Christmas campaign (up £1.07 or 35% since 2019).

Ad of the week It’s the first time a grocer has run a live ad, and System1 immediately awarded it ‘Ad of the Week’ for creative effectiveness.

Christmas is the busiest time of year for retailers and it’s also the most crowded in the advertising space. Trying to get stand-out with a plethora of Christmas ads is a challenge for everyone, which is why we needed to activate in a way that truly punched above its weight. While this idea was high risk, it was also high reward. Mel Matson, Director of Customer Proposition & Comms, Co-op

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