The Co-op Group has collaborated with BAFTA-winning British director, screenwriter and actor Shane Meadows (This is England (2006-2015), Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002)) to create a series of 13 short community films.
A director’s cut of the films, showing the Group’s support for thousands of local good causes, will be shown in cinemas across the UK from 20 January to help kickstart its latest recruitment campaign.
In September, the Group said it hoped to sign up one million further members by the end of 2018 and launched its ‘5 and 1’ membership offer, by which members receive 5% back from own-brand purchases, with an additional 1% going to local causes.
The Group, which says it has 4.1 million active members, has brought in 4oo,000 new members through the scheme in just four months.
It has now announced ambitious plans to recruit one million new members by the end of this year.
The new membership offer has also brought trading success. Co-op Food like-for-like sales were up 3.4% for the period from 21 September 2016 to the end of December, while direct motor insurance sales increased by 17% year-on-year and pre-paid funeral plan sales increased by 73% year-on-year.
Since the launch of the new scheme, Co-op members have earned £15 m with a further £2.7 m raised for more than 4,000 local causes.
Rufus Olins, chief membership officer at the Group, said: “The Co-op is back and our members and our communities are once again at the heart of all we do.
“In looking to grow our membership significantly in 2017, we are in effect looking to grow the Co-op economy, and the very positive impact it can have in communities throughout the UK.
“We are delighted that such an authentic and critically acclaimed director as Shane Meadows has chosen to work with us as we aim to introduce a new generation to the Co-op.
“Like us, Shane believes in the power of people working together to change things and the difference the Co-op can make in strengthening communities.”
Mr Olins added that while Mr Meadows doesn’t normally work with businesses, “he’s made an exception for us because he supports our Co-op way of doing business, believing that we can make a real difference”.
The director commented: “When the Co-op asked me if I’d be interested in making a film about all the charity projects they are now committed to helping, I have to be honest and say I had no idea what they were really up to or what separated them from any other supermarket chain.
“I’d unofficially retired from making ‘commercials’ a number of years back, but as this seemed to be coming from a genuinely good place, I was intrigued enough to find out more and once I realised I could use the actual people from the groups rather than a load of advert actors, I was in.”
Mr Meadows added: “With this sort of material you never know how it’s going to turn out until you get there – filming real people just doing what they do with no script and no real structure is always a bit of a leap of faith, but once we began the first day’s shoot with a group of children, their teachers and the volunteers who ran a community garden project in one of the toughest areas of Glasgow, I knew we had the opportunity to make something both touching and unique.”
The 13 films, which focus on some of the community causes being supported, will be shared by the Group over the coming weeks. From 28 January, the director’s cut will be shown exclusively ahead of Trainspotting 2 around the UK, and will be on TV from April.