Agency MCBD and upmarket food retailer Waitrose scoop Excellence in Marketing Award


On a night of triumph for UK plc, the best British businesses gathered to celebrate excellence, innovation and ethics at the ninth annual National Business Awards in partnership with Orange at the Grosvenor House Hotel.

Emerging triumphant against finalists including American Express, Camelot UK Lotteries, British Heart Foundation, Freesat and e-mphasis, upmarket food retailer Waitrose was presented with the Excellence in Marketing Award for its ‘Essentials’ campaign at the National Business Awards Gala Dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on 9th November 2010.

One of ten finalists selected by the National Business Awards, Waitrose’ campaign impressed judges who were looking for ‘innovation in a clearly articulated objective led campaign, the selection and effective use of appropriate media and distribution channels and creative materials’. “Open to both public and private sector organisations, this Award recognises a specific marketing campaign in the period 1st January 2009 to 31st May 2010 that has achieved high levels of commercial success for the featured products or services,” explained Alex Evans, Editorial Director & Head of Judging of the National Business Awards. “Waitrose’ ‘essential’ campaign launch was a stunning success, building a half billion pound brand from scratch in a single year. Competing with the big four supermarkets as a luxury brand at a time when consumers are more cost-conscious than ever, Waitrose’ growth over the last year is proof of how well-positioned the campaign was.”

The food division of British retailer and worker co-operative, The John Lewis Partnership, Waitrose had 229 branches across the UK in June 2010 and a 4.1% share of the market – making it Britain’s 6th largest grocery retailer. After sales growth slowed for Waitrose in 2008, at the height of the recession, competitor supermarket brands switched their messaging from quality to discount pricing. Perceived as too expensive by a more cautious consumer, Waitrose began to lose customers.

The response was to create a coherent and consistent own label range across multiple categories that would deliver a blend of quality and great value for money, to improve loyalty among more economically exposed customers without alienating existing ones who might be put off by down-market discounting.

Accepting the Award at a glittering ceremony attended by 1,200 of the UK’s most influential business people, MCBD Planner Stephanie Newman said: “This is a real recognition for a ‘success against the odds’ brand that has done brilliantly in the recession when there was a genuine fear that they wouldn’t.”

Presenting the Award, PR and Marketing heavyweight Clare Parsons, Chairman of Lansons Communications, said: “After a long period of consolidation, with businesses focusing more on their internal strength than their external profile, it’s timely that something as high profile as the National Business Awards recognises the importance of Excellence in Marketing – and the whole business community can learn something from the success of the Waitrose campaign.”

Judges for this year’s Excellence in Marketing Award included John Flynn, Chairman of the Business Development Foundation; Tim Gilbert, Managing Director of Ambition; and Neil Morris, Deputy Managing Director, Institute of Direct Marketing.

Commenting on the judges’ decision to select Waitrose as this year’s winner, Evans said: “The beauty of MCBD’s campaign for Waitrose was its simplicity. Developed on the back of in-depth customer research, and communicated in a very simple but highly sophisticated execution, it allowed this upmarket retailer to compete with more price led competitors without damaging its existing brand image or cannibalising its existing product range.”

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