THE Co-operative Bank has won the prestigious Business in the Community (BiTC) Cause Related Marketing award 2003 for its cluster bombs campaign.
In the most hotly contested category of the BiTC annual awards and this year the bank beat no less than 20 other companies, including Tesco and BSkyB, to take the award.
The bank's Customers Who Care programme for 2002 concentrated on the dangers of cluster bombs, which are launched from the air and separate into a myriad of bomblets, which often fail to explode on impact. These unexploded bomblets then effectively create unmapped minefields, which are dangerous to civilians for many years after the conflict is over.
The award judges felt that the structure and nature of the programme were completely in keeping with the bank's ethical brand positioning. Moreover, the way the programme was implemented demonstrated genuine commitment to ethical issues of importance to customers, staff, partner organisations and the public at large.
Sue Adkins, BiTC Director, Cause Related Marketing said: "In view of what's happened in the past year, this programme is both timely and important. The bank has not chosen to work with one of what you could call the ?FTSE 100 charities'. It has taken a difficult issue and put the weight of its organisation behind it."
Under the scheme 25p for every £ 100 spent on the Co-op Bank's Visa credit and debit cards is used to support Customers Who Care campaigns. Last year the bank donated £ 129,000 to Landmine Action to fund cluster bomb clearance initiatives around the world.
However, the bank's involvement went far deeper than just raising cash. As part of the cluster bomb campaign, the bank funded the research and publication of a report that detailed the nature of the problem of unexploded ordnance in Cambodia, Kosovo and Eritrea.
It later hosted a Westminster reception, attended by more than 70 MPs, ministers and civil servants.
The bank's achievement in the BiTC Awards was highlighted in an editorial in Marketing magazine written by editor Craig Smith.
He wrote: "As cause-related campaigns go, ?unexploded cluster bombs: the great clear-up operation' is in a league of its own and rewrites the rules for companies that put ethics at the heart of their business."
For winning the award the bank received an oak tree from Trade & Industry Minister Stephen Timms, which will be planted in one of the bank's four community woodlands in Great Manchester, along with the tree it received in 2001 for being the BiTC Company of the Year.
REAL ACHIEVEMENT? At the BiTC annual awards dinner are (l-r): Stephen Timms; Simon Williams; and Kate Daley, the bank's Campaigns Manager.