Co-op Group and Waitrose join retail rivals for anti-racism ads

'At the Co-op we won’t stand by when we see racism happening and we’ll speak out and act against it'

The Co-op Group and employee-owned Waitrose have joined rivals Aldi, Asda, Iceland, Lidl, M&S, Sainsbury’s and Tesco for an anti-racism ad campaign.

The retailers are working with Channel 4 on an unprecendented show of unity across two entire prime time ad breaks on tonight (27 November).

Sainsbury’s recently launched the first in a collection of nostalgic Christmas ads which tells how a father and daughter’s excitement for Christmas gets them talking about the dad’s gravy and his ‘famous’ gravy song.

It features a black family – which prompted offensive and racist comments from some social media users. It is not the first supermarket ad campaign to receive such abuse.

The exclusive ad break takeovers mark the first time the supermarkets have come together in this way and will air at approximately 8.15pm during Bake Off: An Extra Slice and at 10.15pm during The Last Leg, both featuring the 60 second version of Sainsbury’s’ ‘gravy song’ advert.

Ads from Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, M&S, Tesco and Waitrose & Partners will be split across the two breaks, airing one after the other – something the supermarkets would usually actively avoid. The activity will carry the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism.

The bespoke Channel 4 introductions will explain to viewers that: “Channel 4 stands up against racism. After the reaction to this year’s Sainsbury’s Christmas commercial, retailers have put their usual festive rivalries aside across two ad-breaks tonight to stand side by side with us too.”

The brands are also standing together on social media where the ad breaks will be published at the same time as the TV activity is broadcast on Friday evening.

Verica Djurdjevic, chief revenue officer at Channel 4, said: “As an anti-racist organisation we are incredibly proud to stand together with Sainsbury’s and our retail partners against racism, using our national platform to call out the unacceptable reaction to Sainsbury’s Christmas advert.”

Steve Murrells, CEO at the Co-op Group, said: “At the Co-op we won’t stand by when we see racism happening and we’ll speak out and act against it. I am crystal clear that we must be Anti-Racist in everything that we do and we’ll work to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racial inequalities that currently exist. We are proud to stand in solidarity with our peers.”

The Co-op Group recently teamed up with Network Rail and Nationwide Building Society for a C4 ad break aimed at discouraging abuse of public-facing staff.

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