Cannes Lions winner: Carrefour 'Black Supermarket' wins Creative Effectiveness

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This social media, ecommerce and retail campaign from Carrrefour saw the French supermarket giant not only boost sales, but it actually changed EU laws in the process. See why it won a top prize at Cannes Lions below...

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Case study summary

• French supermarket giant Carrefour stood up against an EU law that gives people just 3% of access to fruits and vegetables
• “Black Supermarket” project risked heavy fines with pop up shops selling 600 forbidden fruits and vegetables
• Web film also spread the word, reinforced by print and outdoor executions.
• Change.org petition got 85,000 signatures and in-store traffic rose 15%
• On April 19 2019, the European Parliament ratified a new organic agriculture regulation, reauthorising the sale and cultivation of farmers’ seeds.

The challenge

Carrefour stood up against an EU law that gives people just 3% of access to fruits and vegetables, with the other 97% being illegal because they are not registered in the European Union's Official Catalogue of Authorised Species.

Alongside agency Marcel, the “Black Supermarket” project was an attack on Europe’s Official Catalogue of Authorised Species, which “dictates which seeds are eligible for sale and cultivation,” Marcel’s creative director, Gaëtan du Peloux, explained. “In Europe, as it is the case almost all over the world, people have access to only three percent of existing cereals, vegetables and fruits. The other 97 percent—2 million farmers’ seed varieties—are illegal.”

The Official Catalogue of Authorised Species was originally conceived with good intentions: guaranteeing food safety for everyone in the European Union.

In 1996, Carrefour became the first major retailer to forbid GMOs in stores. Since then, it’s become the largest organic products retailer in France. The purpose of its Black Supermarkets was to give this positioning more visibility and reposition “illegal” producers as national heroes.

The solution

The Black Supermarkets launched last year on September 19 2018, headlined by an “illegal dinner” that ran concurrently with the French National Food Forum, putting Carrefour itself at risk for heavy fines.

Black Supermarkets opened nationwide and 600 forbidden fruits and vegetables were staged in massive herbariums, over which hung the faces of illegal producers who had been sued by agrochemical lobbies. An accompanying web film also spread the word, reinforced by print and outdoor executions.

Visitors were also asked to sign a Change.org petition to change the law, resulting in over 85,000 signatures.

Carrefour signed five-year supply contracts with illegal producers and invited opinion leaders to witness the act.

The brand claims this is the first time a retailer has broken the law in order to change it.

The results

Over the course of the National Food Forum, the Black Supermarkets generated over 300 million media impressions—69 percent of which were online, driving people to the petition.

In-store traffic rose 15 percent, with the produce section benefiting from a sales bump of 10 percent. It also led to an 8 percent rise in positive brand sentiment toward Carrefour, lifting its score from 65 percent to 73 percent.

As a result of the publicity, on April 19 2019, the European Parliament ratified a new organic agriculture regulation, reauthorising the sale and cultivation of farmers’ seeds.

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