Tipping the Scales of Childhood Obesity with Zanussi

Turning brand promise into purpose.

“Before, when I saw people eating carrots I thought ‘yuk!’ And when I was younger, I didn’t eat cucumber, I’d just put it on my eyes! But now I’ll eat it and carrots too. I love Zanussi Cook School” Rose, 8, London.

For more than 100 years, Zanussi has used clever Italian design to make family life simpler with inventive appliances. Having saved families an abundance of time and effort in order to spend more time together, the brand wanted to go even further. So it asked Citizen to help create a purpose around making family lives better and to put it into practice. And it wanted to start this purpose with an activation as close to its Luton HQ's community as possible.

The changes we agreed to make for the client were:

1. Turn Zanussi’s ‘seamless family life’ product promise into purpose-driven campaign where the brand materially improved community lives, whilst remaining true to the brand equity and product promise

2. Identify a socially responsible vehicle making a difference to people’s lives locally and nationwide

3. Reach a minimum KPI of 5,000 families


Going to a new world of brand purpose

Once Zanussi committed to go to this new world, Citizen's job was to turn purpose into practice.

With ‘family life’ as our starting point, our insights revealed that childhood obesity is a key concern for families in England. Shockingly 28% of 2-15 year olds in England are estimated to be overweight. It not only makes their lives worse, but harder, two areas where Zanussi could offer material help.

Indeed, there was a solution. We found an abundance of scientific evidence that children who learn to cook from a young age make healthier food choices throughout their lives. But food education is malnourished. As it's taught differently around the UK, with many schools lacking facilities and expertise, Citizen recommended that Zanussi create a food education programme for primary-age children.

Despite out campaign focus being Zanussi HQ's local, Luton community, we knew that we could create a nationwide blueprint to help children country-wide, in order to make a greater number of families' lives better.

A smart partner

Zanussi needed a vehicle from which it could credibly talk the importance of food education. So Citizen identified a charity partner with huge potential.

Established journalist and children’s cookbook author, Amanda Grant, set up Cook School to offer accessible cookery lessons for children. An initial pilot had reached 3,000, but there was appetite to accomplish more.

In 2019, marking the centenary of Electrolux, Zanussi’s parent company, the Electrolux Food Foundation was set up to support and fund employee-driven projects globally that tackle food issues. Our client recognised Cook School as just such a project in the UK.

Securing funding, Citizen brokered an active partnership for Zanussi with Cook School, to grow the charity nationwide from September, teaching weekly classes in ten schools, educating 10,000 children on the importance of a nutritious diet by the end of the autumn term. This partnership was set to smash the ‘5,000 families’ KPI by the end of the year.

But this wasn’t simply a badging exercise. The partnership committed to reach 30,000 children in 2020 and deliver lessons to 100 schools in 2021.

Adapting the brand to put purpose into practice

Being so product-focused was right for the Zanussi brand, and has helped it make millions of families lives easier. But flexing the marketing to a purpose-led, community-focused campaign required some comms gymnastics.

Soft launch putting employees and local school children together

Despite Zanussi's staff not being used to these sorts of campaigns, they developed an enormous enthusiasm for Zanussi Cook School. So much so that we were able to launch in the company's Luton HQ neighbourhood with 54 employees spending days helping to teach 900 children from three local primary schools throughout July. It was a huge hit with the kids and staff alike. But now we wanted to take that local success story and create national awareness.

Building a case for youth food education nationally

So, hot on the heels of our successful soft launch, we commissioned newsworthy research to spotlight the urgent need for practical food education. 1,000 children aged 6-11 were interviewed, revealing while disconnected from food, when given the chance to get hands on in the kitchen, their passion is potent enough to change their lives for the better.

But this sort of content can be quite dry, so we had to add flavoursome ingredients to the story's recipe to get national media's juices flowing. Citizen crafted arresting and ‘sticky’ angles e.g. children can identify emoji-friendly ingredients like avocado (76%) and aubergine (66%) yet a tenth think eggs come from cows; a third don’t know tuna comes from fish and 10% have never eaten cherry tomatoes. The national media gobbled it up and told story far and wide. But we didn't immediately anticipate how big of a national debate our story was to spark.

Public Health England grab the obesity education baton

In October 2019, Public Health England (PHE) followed up our research by announcing that 4.4% of year 6 children need medical help for obesity. To coincide with this hard hitting news, Citizen created a heart-warming, shareable film of children cooking at Charles Dickens Primary School, to show how to tackle the problem. The content highlighted the need for food education, showcasing their knowledge gaps and delight at making delicious meals. Different formats were cut for the brand’s website, social channels and for editorial to maximise eyeballs.

Additionally, Citizen brokered an exclusive with The Telegraph’s Education and Careers Editor, Sally Peck, inviting her to Charles Dickens Primary School to experience the learning opportunities for children through practical food education. Interviews were arranged with Electrolux Managing Director, Peter Spencer, Zanussi Marketing Director, Chris George and Cook School’s Amanda Grant, highlighting both parties’ passion to make a profound impact on children’s lives.

Driving the debate socially

Tapping into the social buzz created by the debate, Citizen developed and posted content on the Zanussi and Cook School channels including an engagement driving competition for children to design a vegetarian packed lunch to win a Zanussi oven.

Expectation-topping results

We turned Zanussi’s ‘seamless family life’ product promise into a purpose-driven campaign where the brand materially improved community lives, with more than 10,000 families' lives changed already and millions already primed through exposure to and participation in the debate on national earned and social media. And the campaign reinforced the product and brand equity.

We identified a socially responsible vehicle to make a difference to people’s lives locally and nationwide, with the Zanussi Cook School platform. It not only made an immediate impact, but continues to make a positive difference to children’s lives, with a commitment to grow the number of schools involved to at least 100 and the campaign extended through 2021.

And we reached at least 5,000 families locally and beyond.

Indeed, the Zanussi partnership helped Cook School scale from part time volunteers to a full time team reaching 10,000 children with more content, more worksheets and ovens for schools. While lending Zanussi a higher purpose and building the brand’s equity, the PR gave the charity a profile resulting in a waiting list of 50 schools and numerous volunteering offers.

And we exploded awareness of Zanussi Cook School to resonate with audiences: Citizen’s newsworthy, cost effective campaign generated extensive reach with 63 pieces of earned media coverage, 140,031,179 reach, 462M online readership, 592K estimated coverage views, 1.12K social shares, 12.8M daily readership.

“I’ve started my own café in my bedroom for friends and family making all the recipes I’ve leant at Zanussi Cook School.”

Rosie (11), Primary school student

“Teaching children to cook and think for themselves arms them with some amazing life skills – how to work in a team, how to be confident how to try things out, or find solutions to challenges – and celebrate when they do! I’d like to see every school in this country adopt this approach. “

Chantelle Nicholson, Chef Patron, Tredwells

“Nothing is as important as the health of our children. Giving them the skills and knowledge to be able to cook healthy, balanced meals is a crucial step towards tackling childhood obesity and the dominance of fast food in children’s diets. Citizen Relations’ effective match making between Zanussi and Cook School and widespread coverage of the initiative not only helped to spotlight and take action on these issues, but built true purpose for our brand as making a difference to British family life.”

Smriti Edwards, , Senior Brand and Consumer Marketing Manager, Electrolux


Tipping the Scales of Childhood Obesity for Zanussi

This is the story of Citizen shaping Zanussi's brand purpose to tip the scales of childhood obesity in the right direction. We tripled the reach of its charity Cook School and delivered cookery lessons to 10,000 individual children to create a national healthy eating blueprint.

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Citizen Relations

+447713733263 mark.cater@citizenrelations.com