Opinion

Co-op promotion a slap in the face

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Co-op anti-pub advert misses the mark

Related tags Co-operatives uk Pub Beer Football

While the Co-op’s decision to focus on the pub sector with its recent sniping advert might be viewed internally as a bit of “light-hearted” fun, it's gone down like a cup of cold sick with the people it’s targeting.

For a retailer that prides itself on being a part of the communities it serves, and one that burnishes its ethical status at every opportunity, the decision to directly promote against another community hub, and one that is well documented as struggling as well, seems idiotic, if not malicious.

For those not in the no, the Co-op decided to launch a promotion ​during the 2024 Euros football tournament telling people they wouldn’t get a good view of the telly in the pub, so they should stay in instead with a special offer on Co-op pizzas and Budweiser beer.

The move has drawn fire from across the pub sector with operators branding the adverts “disgusting” and “ridiculous”. I’d add “moronic” and “misguided” into the mix as well.

International sporting tournaments are the time that many pubs get to shine, bringing people together in shared experiences and creating memorable moments that bring people back to the pub time and time again.

Sitting at home with, as one pub operator described as a “dry, cardboard-like pizza” is not the way most people would choose to cheer on their team and to try and promote it as a better choice is risible.

It’s also irresponsible - a pub offers alcohol under controlled, licensed circumstances, in which staff can monitor consumption and cut off the supply if necessary. Unchecked drinking at home with low priced beer deals is the opposite of this, and not one that should be encouraged.

But it’s that community element that really gets to me. My local Co-op manager is great and works really hard to support, nurture and integrate into the community, far more than the local Tesco, Sainsbury etc manager does.

So for this organisation to launch a pretty cynical attack on another sector that does far greater community and charitable works, at a time of real struggle, is galling and the kind of behaviour I’d expect from some of the other lot.

And to simply dismiss it as “light-hearted” is equally insulting. At best, they didn’t think it through, at worst they’re kicking a sector when it's down.

If I was a pub operator, I’d be showing the Co-op a red card right now.

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