When the Co-op launched its new report, ’Lie of the Label’, it
generated major newspaper stories and sparked numerous TV reports.
The drive - which calls for a code of practice to ensure the food
industry delivers ’honest’ labelling - was a success for many reasons.
Key consumer editors had the story in time to publish on the day of the
Monday press conference, using the word ’today’ in copy.
The report was backed by the Consumers’ Association and the National
Food Alliance. Both provided third party endorsement, as did the
Government with Food Minister Jeff Rooker and Consumer Affairs Minister
Nigel Griffiths keeping the story on the boil.
’Lie of the Label’ has a clever title and an ingredient usually lacking
in reports - creative verve.
References to seven deadly sins in food labelling and the clever use of
language helped reiterate the core conflict within the story: truth
versus lies, the Co-op versus the rest of the food industry.
Head of food labelling at the Co-op, Wendy Wrigley, was widely quoted
and unchallenged, even with the impractical suggestion: ’All key
information should be on the front of the pack’. As this same report
demands no small print on packaging, God help the pack designers.
A consumer jury to regulate adherence to the code of practice and a new
Co-op labelling complaints service were also reported. The survey
revealing consumer confusion used mock-up packs of made-up brands. While
slightly muddling, this gave journalists pictures to support their
Substantial exposure has been achieved which positions the Co-op as
responsible, consumer-focused and forward-thinking. The Co-op gave the
media a story on a plate and will be rewarded for being ’first in’ on an
important consumer issue.
It will be interesting to see if, as recommended, a code of practice is
introduced, or new legislation, as preferred by the National Food
While the PR campaign was nearly faultless, a combined marketing
initiative could have given consumers a clearer call to action. The news
could have communicated a relaunch of the store’s own label food lines,
along the lines of Fair Foods, or similar, to reflect the retailer’s
ethics. A bad idea? It’s only a serving suggestion.