Entries shine at 34th annual Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

2022-05-10 07:21:16 By : Forrest Huo

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Judging is now complete for the Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards 2022, with our independent panel commending the high standard of entries across the 10 categories.

C ongratulations to the shortlisted entrants. Judging was held at the Culloden Estate and Spa on April 8, and this year’s winners and highly commended entries will be announced during the GroceryAid Grocers’ Ball at the Culloden on May 27.

Our thanks to judges John D’Arcy OBE, Riki Neill and panel chair Professor Barry Quinn, as well as sponsors of our 34th annual awards, Aqua Twist, Derry Group Ireland, Green Field Marketing Solutions, Henderson Food Machinery, Invest NI, Kestrel Foods, Mash Direct, MXB, Power NI and Northern Snack Foods.



Designed to disrupt the market, Cracker Deals is a dual-branded value campaign which highlights weekly value across selected standard and off-licence products at Centra and SuperValu. With the rising cost of living, as well as the impact of the pandemic on household spend, value-led retail campaigns have tapped into the consumer zeitgeist. Cracker Deals is no exception resulting in a +9% increase in sales and exceeding targets by +4%. Now in its third year, the Cracker Deals campaign in 2021 focused on the two main seasonal events - Easter and Christmas. Combining both brands’ resources allowed a deeper investment in the campaign, increased share of voice and the ability to reach even more consumers. During Easter 2021, Cracker Deals launched three weekly offers, promoted across TV, outdoor, radio, and digital, supported with POS and leaflets. A longer campaign in the seven-week run up to Christmas followed, supported across the same channels.


EUROSPAR, the community supermarket, identified a gap in the market to increase market share, basket spend and position the brand as a local, convenient supermarket through the development of the Over 1000 Prices Matched to TESCO campaign. Not only do shoppers want the convenience of a neighbourhood family store mindset, a wide range of quality products to suit the bigger family shop, but also supermarket value, with pricing on power with leading multiples. Furthermore, a survey identified ‘value for money’ as the number one motivating factor - 85% of shoppers stated it is the reason why they would shop in a store (EUROSPAR Tracker, 2021). In order to incentivise shoppers, EUROSPAR seized the opportunity and developed the Over 1000 Prices Matched to TESCO in-store sales promotion, comprising of a £350,000 marketing campaign, and achieved exceptional results of +20.4% in basket spend & retail sales +6% vs 2020.

In April 2021, S&W Wholesale opened its first Nearby store on Spencer Road in Derry/L’Derry with a long standing community retail partner. Just one year on, the group now boasts over 80 stores across the island of Ireland. S&W identified a gap in the market for a brand within convenience retailing that would strike a chord with both independent retailers and their communities. Its goal from the beginning was to create a fresh, modern retail brand, focused on local and with a symbol that local customers would instantly recognise. Nearby was formed along with its strapline of Never too far from home. Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, S&W launched the Nearby brand with a clear marketing strategy, working alongside sales, trading, supply partners and local food suppliers around NI. The campaign utilised both ATL and BTL marketing channels as well as socially distanced store launches. Nearby was part of a new direction for S&W, as part of its wider modernisation strategy.


2021 marked a special milestone year for SPAR, its 60th anniversary. This momentous year presented a unique opportunity for the brand to reinforce its promise of Being there for local communities. With a clear vision, SPAR invested £3.1m in developing a specific 60th anniversary marketing strategy. The objective of this strategy was two-fold, firstly to help reinforce SPAR’s brand credentials of being there for communities, and secondly to help drive commercial targets by creating buzz and rewarding loyalty by offering shoppers market-leading anniversary deals and promotions. The 12-month campaign had a significant impact on overall performance. By the end of 2021, SPAR was ranked as the number one convenience brand for favourability, retail sales grew by 4.1% to £1.1bn, 93.7million visits were recorded, average weekly sales increased by 18.8% and basket spend increased by 21.5% - a truly record breaking year for the brand - the prefect 60th birthday present.


Gaining a standout at Christmas is paramount for SuperValu. The competitive landscape is challenging within the convenience sector, and winning Christmas was a priority following 2020’s Christmas campaign success. Cue one injured reindeer, add a sweet protagonist Aoife who hopes to nurse him back to health in time for the biggest night of the year, and we had a ‘winning’ formula and strong consumer call to action to Share the Magic with SuperValu. The advertising campaign delivered an emotive message that captured the spirit of hope and recovery within society while still ticking the box for communicating commercial messages of Food Quality, Value for Money, and Inspiration. Featuring on TV, VOD, Digital, POS, promotional leaflets, an inspirational magazine, PR, and influencer activity, all touchpoints linked together beautifully to capture the magic of Christmas.

The solid results for the campaign showed how consumers agreed. Share the Magic delivered on Musgrave’s ambition for ‘owning Christmas’ in 2021 and was the campaign of which it is most proud.


Kerry is an enthusiastic marketeer shaping the digital future for some of NI’s leading brands including SuperValu, Centra and Moy Park. She exhibits experience beyond her years, bringing a solutions-oriented approach to develop and amplify big brand campaigns and deliver record results. Kerry graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2018 with a first-class MA (Hons) degree in International Business, including a year at Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien (Vienna, Austria). Prior to joining MXB, she was a PR executive at Clearbox, actioning social media management and strategy for clients such as Bushmills Irish Whiskey and Jose Cuervo Ireland. Kerry joined MXB as a social media executive in May 2021 and was promoted to digital account executive within two months, a testament to her extensive skillset and the depth of her big brand experience. In 2021, she delivered a massive ROI for one client by transitioning their door drop leaflet to a digital version. For another client wanting to become an inspirational source for meal-making content, she devised a strategy across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Pinterest with results surpassing all expectations.


Naomi studied at the University of Brighton, completing a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism in 2014. Her first job as PR/marketing assistant for AJS Promotions saw Naomi recognised at the 2019 NI Social Media Awards. Joining Morgan Fuels in 2019, she was responsible for social media content, brand awareness and sponsorship relationships. In August 2021, Foyle welcomed Naomi into the team to develop marketing strategy across the group. Projects she has delivered include communicating Foyle’s USP of agricultural heritage and its Producers Club, working with industry experts and videographers to deliver informative and engaging best practice content for farmers including grassland management and biodiversity and an Aberdeen Angus youth education programme. Having undertaken carbon literacy training, she works on Foyle’s annual sustainability report and highlights sustainability subjects on social media. Naomi also supports the NPD team through customers insights, product propositions and market gap analysis, and is heavily involved in Foyle’s CSR strategy. She leads management of the Foyle website and is building pages for company app Foyle Connect. What makes Naomi truly special is her caring personality and ability to engage with people.


Lucy Manby has worked for Boost Drinks for over three years, having previously worked as a marketing assistant at PPG Industries and Rolf C Hagen. Joining Boost as consumer marketing executive, she was promoted to assistant brand manager in September 2019 and brand manager in May 2021. Lucy is responsible for recommending strategic marketing initiatives and contributing towards Boost’s marketing communications, product portfolio management, consumer insights and monitoring key brand KPIs. She played a key role in the re-brand and launch of Boost’s new marketing proposition Choose Now, with the overhaul of product packaging and brand communications significantly boosting brand awareness and reaching millions of consumers through a multimedia mix. Lucy has undertaken category research driving the successful launch of a new Boost Iced Coffee flavour; launched Boost Energy Mango with experiential, PR and marketing activity; expanded Boost’s CSR activity in NI; and driven sampling activity. Lucy strives to get the best out of every product, campaign, and piece of marketing activity she works on, and has a proven track record of success in helping to deliver high quality marketing campaigns resulting in outstanding results.

Brandy - by your side for over 50 years. Brandy dog food was established in Moy, Co Armagh in February 1972 and is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. As it enters its 50th year, owner Mackle Petfoods is proud to be working alongside its local partners to introduce Brandy to a new generation of consumers through its 50th birthday campaign. Mackle wants to reach new consumers and reward those who have been loyal to the brand throughout its 50-year history. Brandy is Ireland’s local dog food brand, and Mackle wants to celebrate its heritage. Brandy is an iconic brand that is easily recognisable on shelf by its bright red packaging and iconic Bernese Mountain dog on the front. Mackle is aiming to capitalise on this through the campaign to bring interest, excitement and involvement from consumers.

In 2016, Musgrave sought to capitalise on the emerging coffee market by developing premium, on-the-go artisan coffee brand, Frank and Honest. The aim? Become the leading coffee brand on the island of Ireland. Backed by world class technology that could guarantee a consistently great cup of coffee, and an ambitious environmental pledge, innovation and sustainability are at the heart of this brand. Add a tongue-in-cheek marketing campaign to the mix and Musgrave had a recipe for success. Fast forward to 2021 and Frank and Honest has succeeded in becoming the largest-selling-on-the-go coffee brand on the island of Ireland, based in 849 locations, with 169 of these in NI.

2021 was the brand’s best year to date. Through a range of innovations and marketing initiatives, sales objectives were met and exceeded. Over 4.5 million cups of Frank & Honest sold with LFL sales growing to +20%. Further growth is projected in 2022.

In April 2021, S&W Wholesale opened its first Nearby store on Spencer Road in Derry/L’Derry with a long standing community retail partner. Just one year on, the group now boasts over 80 stores across the island of Ireland. S&W identified a gap in the market for a brand within convenience retailing that would strike a chord with both independent retailers and their communities. Its goal from the beginning was to create a fresh, modern retail brand, focused on local and with a symbol that local customers would instantly recognise.

Nearby was formed along with its strapline of Never too far from home. Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, S&W launched the Nearby brand with a clear marketing strategy, working alongside sales, trading, supply partners and local food suppliers around NI. The campaign utilised both ATL and BTL marketing channels as well as socially distanced store launches. Nearby was part of a new direction for S&W, as part of its wider modernisation strategy.

In direct response to a shift in consumer shopping behaviour, which revealed a desire for quality and value for money following Covid-19 and Brexit, Centra relaunched its own-brand range in January 2021. The development of the 350-strong own-brand range was built on a core proposition, to provide consumers with a superior product alternative that is 33% cheaper than ‘big brand’ competitors. The primary aim of the launch campaign was to raise awareness of the range, and position Centra own-brand products as the preferred choice to more well-known brands. This would serve to further position Centra as category leaders, setting a new standard in consumer-centric product development within the convenience market. Piggybacking on the most popularly used channel - Zoom - the digitally-led campaign paid dividends with sales in the range increasing by +15%, overall sales increasing +7% and achieving digital engagements over 740k.


In the summer of 2021, families were slowly reuniting after a long global pandemic lockdown. The Moy Park brand wished to emotionally resonate with its core audience of families in these precious moments, to reignite the joy of sharing food together. It was an opportunity for Moy Park to recognise the little moments that had elevated importance in the lives of its consumers and by heroing these every-day Yays, the brand would go on to firmly carve out its place in the hearts and minds of consumers across Ireland. MXB created and launched Yay for Summer, catapulting Moy Park to elevated brand recognition and trial for consumers across the Island of Ireland. The all-island campaign ran June to August 2021 across a variety of digital and social channels delivering some very tasty results indeed with social reach of 6.31million and over 1.47million social engagements.


In late 2021, Mackle Petfoods relaunched the Naturo Petfoods e-commerce website (www.naturopetfoods.com) in order to improve the customer experience. This included developing an improved subscription model and a loyalty programme to reward customers. Since its launch in October 2021, the website has exceeded growth expectations and net promoter scores have increased to 9.5. Key to the success is the ease of navigation which has been developed after a detailed review of the customer journey and usage of the original site. A flexible approach to the subscription model makes it easy for customers to choose convenient dates and order frequency.



Lidl Community Works is a core pillar of the discount retailer’s wider Corporate Social Responsibility strategy, A Better Tomorrow. The objective is to be a good neighbour by positively contributing to its communities all across Northern Ireland. Lidl is continuously developing its community work, fundraising initiatives for charity partners, volunteering programme and local sourcing and employment opportunities. It has a companywide KPI to increase support for local communities, meaning this KPI is all on senior management’s agenda. Lidl’s unique approach to its charity partnerships allows the retailer to engage colleagues from all areas of the business and maximise impact. Its leading community initiatives include its charity partnership with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Northern Ireland, Autism Aware Evenings in all stores, surplus food donation programme in partnership with FoodCloud and FareShare, a Get into Retail programme and, more recently, its Sport for Good programme.


One of Musgrave’s core values is to develop long-term partnerships, with building and maintaining strong, impactful relations with partners across its business at the heart of what it does. Musgrave’s partnership with Action Cancer dates back to 2001, embodying this value. When Covid-19 threatened fundraising, Musgrave combined innovative fundraising ideas with successful existing initiatives to ensure it could continue to make a life-saving difference. Its objective of raising £175,00 was exceeded, achieving £190,000, delivering 875 health checks and 1,950 breast screenings on the Big Bus. Action Cancer Ambassador Gloria Hunniford OBE said: “The success of SuperValu and Centra’s partnership with Action Cancer is a remarkable model of collaboration and individual commitment at each store. It’s a mindset, a shared set of values and behaviours that isn’t a bolt-on to their marketing - it’s embedded in the difference they can make with the strength of their focused purpose, regional presence, human resources and customer base. It’s a joint effort that’s deeply appreciated by Action Cancer.”


SPAR NI pledged to raise £60k in its 60th birthday year for Marie Curie, which has been a charity partner of the SPAR brand across the UK since 2017. When fundraising events were shut down overnight in 2020, and throughout 2021, SPAR NI was even more determined to develop new initiatives to keep retailers and shoppers engaged, encouraging new and safe ways of supporting Marie Curie. From hosting Blooming Great Birth-tea Parties in over 200 SPAR stores, selling Marie Curie branded face coverings, donating monies from bunches of daffodils and flowers along with on pack donations from their Christmas sandwich range, SPAR NI managed to completely smash the £60k target and ended the year by donating a whopping £155k to Marie Curie in NI. Since 2017, SPAR NI has raised an amazing £500,000 for Marie Curie, contributing a quarter of SPAR’s UK-wide fundraising milestone of £2m.

Cranswick plc’s ambition is to be the world’s most sustainable meat business. Cranswick is clear: there is no more pressing issue than the climate crisis. It aims to be part of the solution, with rapid decarbonisation while investing to protect and restore the environment. Cranswick launched an ambitious group-wide sustainability strategy, Second Nature, in 2018 with a roadmap to get Cranswick to Net Zero emissions across all operations by 2040, 10 years ahead of the government Net Zero target. At Cranswick Country Food’s Ballymena site, the focus is on producing premium British pork products, maintaining technical integrity, the highest standards of animal welfare and the well-being of employees, while working towards its goal to be a Net Zero site by 2040. Cranwick’s commitment to emissions reduction and minimising waste is at the heart of what it does, as the first agri-food manufacturer in Northern Ireland to be formally recognised as Carbon Neutral.

Foundation Earth’s launch was announced in summer 2021, the culmination of years of work, planning and coalition building from Denis Lynn, the late Finnebrogue chairman, and Jago Pearson, his chief strategy officer. Foundation Earth is an independent, non-profit organisation established to issue front-of-pack environmental scores on food products, enabling consumers to make more sustainable buying choices. It brings together expert scientists and leading figures from food production and retailing across the UK and EU who all share a vision of a future food industry that doesn’t destroy Planet Earth. Tragically Denis died in May 2021, before he could see his idea realised.

Lidl Northern Ireland is one of the largest nationwide grocery retailers in Northern Ireland, providing high quality products at market leading value with its stores at the heart of all its operations. Since first entering the Northern Irish market in 1999, Lidl has established itself as a significant component within the retail industry with a strong network of more than 1,000 employees across its 41 stores and regional distribution centre in Nutt’s Corner, Co Antrim. With more than 300,000 customers passing through its stores each week, Lidl continuously strives to have a positive impact on the communities it serves and our environment. In 2021, it launched a circular economy logistics strategy with partner McCulla Transport to launch a new fleet of eight bio-methane powered trucks, marking the first significant business integration between the transport and the nationwide supermarket retail sector in the region.

Foyle Food Group was established in 1977 and has since grown to include five sites across NI, GB and ROI. The Group first started exporting to Europe in 1977, and internationally in 2010. The volatility within beef markets required Foyle to diversify its customer base and expand into new markets. Foyle’s target for 2021 was to have 25% of its £400m turnover driven through its export markets. Foyle has worked closely with industry and governmental bodies such as AHDB, Bord Bia and NIMEA to promote Northern Irish beef across the world. Foyle Campsie became the first beef plant in NI and indeed the UK to gain USDA approval. Foyle beef was the first to be exported to the USA in 20-plus years, as a result of over six years’ work to gain approval in a largely untapped market.

Launched in 2020 by Terry Cross OBE, Hinch Distillery in Co Down is a leading player in the Irish whiskey renaissance. In the past year, the business has cemented its position as one of the most successful new generation drinks producers, joining the race for international market share across the globe. Creating brands with authenticity and provenance, distillation takes place at a working, craft distillery. The £15m, 30,000-square-foot distillery features a state-of-the-art visitors centre, brasserie, retail shop and events spaces. A maturation warehouse was added in 2021, an additional investment of £500,000. Customer behaviour, market trends, product and market innovation, packaging, taxes and pricing are scrutinised to inform product development and positioning. The marketing strategy has succeeded in positioning Hinch Distillery at the forefront of the premium drinks market through international brand advocacy and a worldwide distribution network spanning 30-plus markets. The distillery will create 42 jobs.

The Naturo Repaw Room: leading UK petfood brand Naturo has the fifth largest value market share in GB (Nielsen, 2021). Manufactured by Mackle Petfoods in Co Armagh, 91% of the company’s turnover in 2021 was attributed to export sales, across 19 countries including ROI, GB, Europe, South Korea, and Canada. Naturo is the key export brand for the business and one of the main brand objectives for 2021 was to raise awareness of the Naturo brand in its biggest export market - GB. The key activity in 2021 was the Naturo Repaw Room - the first ever pop-up dog chew repair shop to help dog-owners salvage prized possessions ravaged by pesky pups. Not only did the campaign tap into the emotional relationship that owners have with their pets, but educated owners on how a dog’s diet can impact their behaviour.



As owner of the best-selling soft drink in Northern Ireland convenience*, Boost is always looking at innovative ways to grow and develop its extensive product range. The brand recognised the unquestionable demand for flavoured energy drinks, coupled with the popularity of the Mango flavour, one of the fastest growing flavours in the energy drink category at growth of +22% year-on-year in volume sales**. This led Boost to launch an Energy Mango 250ml can variant to the market in 2021. Following a very successful PR and marketing launch in May 2021, Mango is now Boost’s second best-selling flavoured drink within its flavours range. Mango sits second behind Red Berry, which is the best-selling soft drink in NI covenience*. Within the first 10 months of launch, 1,185,960 units of Mango had been sold.

*IRI NI Convenience unit sales 52we to 13th June 2021 **IRI Marketplace Data Symbols & Independents 52 weeks volume sales to 6th September 2020


Since its origins as a simple market stall in St George’s Market selling butter, eggs and milk over 120 years ago, to an employer of more than 4,750 individuals, Hendersons has always striven to supply NI with the best food possible at everyday value. It works daily to grow, develop and nurture great relationships with this island’s agricultural community and supply base, but in 2018 decided it was time to immerse itself even deeper in the community and start its own journey as a food producer.

Through ongoing consumer research and listening to its shoppers, Henderson discovered there was a range of products shoppers desired that it wasn’t yet providing. After further research, it invested in setting up a production kitchen run by some of NI’s top professional chefs with a focus on cooking dishes from around the globe with maximum flavour right here. The CHEF brand offers its retailers a robust range of pre-prepared meals cooked by trained chefs and provides time sensitive shoppers with over 60 recipes to feed their families with.


Linwoods Health Foods has unveiled a new range of healthy seed blends with body functionality in mind. The Functional Range consists of two products - Menoligna and Immune Support - formulated to naturally support and enhance the natural processes of the human body. Menoligna is a plant-based blend of sprouted milled flaxseed and milled chia seeds, containing important vitamins, minerals and added Lignans. It has been specifically developed for women during the menopause stage of life. It contains 96% of the daily recommended intake of Vitamin B6, which contributes to the regulation of hormonal activity, and vitamin B12 which can reduce tiredness and fatigue. Immune Support is specifically formulated to help maintain a healthy immune system. The blend includes sprouted milled flaxseed, hemp seeds, milled brazil nuts and Ganeden BC30 probiotic cultures. The blend also provides a natural source of selenium, iron and zinc, which contribute to the normal function of the immune system.


Gail joined Mackle Petfoods in October 2021, having worked in FMCG and grocery on and off for over 20 years. A liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Marketors and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, she undertakes pro-bono work for charities in her spare time. Enthused to work with the iconic local brands Brandy, Cat Club, Naturo and Jessie, Gail has developed a five-year marketing strategy to support Mackle’s ambitious plans to double the size of its business over the same period. Developing strategic marketing pillars, her team has undertaken detailed segmentation analysis to develop a positioning strategy for each of the key brands. Since joining, Gail has implemented new customer service monitoring to gain better feedback from consumers, already resulting in boosted ecommerce sales. She has also completed roll out of the new ecommerce site, planned and executed the Brandy 50th birthday campaign and created a new Naturo brand campaign for launch in June 2022. Further, working with the HR team, she has established a plan to strengthen awareness of Mackle as a brilliant place to work with a real family feel and ambitious outlook.


Kerri Smith started working with Finnebrogue Artisan in 2015, as the only person on the marketing team. After researching the GB sausage market, she launched the Finnebrogue Artisan Facebook account, and drove a refresh and relaunch of the Good Little Company on Facebook and Instagram. Part of the successful M&S tender in 2016, Kerri then joined late founder Denis Lynn’s planning team for nitrite-free bacon in January 2017, working on competitor research, packaging design, focus groups, creation of the brand name Naked and its London launch. In 2018, she travelled across GB promoting Finnebrogue’s new range of private-label premium sausages with Booker Wholesale to master butchers, presenting with the Booker team at the IGD Awards and then showcasing the Naked range at Booker’s annual trade show at Silverstone racetrack in 2018 and 2019. In 2021, Kerri worked on rebranding the Naked range to Better Naked, backed by an integrated marketing campaign, added new front of pack eco-scores from Foundation Earth, attended exhibitions in London and Cologne to target international opportunities and secured a Guinness World Record for the largest vegan burger.


Val’s colleagues say she prefers to stay out of the limelight, but her contribution to the NI grocery sector is undeniable. Joining Musgrave NI in 1998, she has dedicated the last 24 years to driving and building the brand across NI. Val’s contribution includes creating innovative and ground-breaking marketing campaigns across digital, social and OOH advertising, organising roadshows and PR events, and overseeing new store openings and influencer media drops. Over the years, she has been instrumental in helping to deliver award-winning campaigns, including nine Ulster Grocer Marketing Awards between 2018 and 2021. A career highlight has been SuperValu’s Let’s Cook campaign, with Val instrumental in building SuperValu’s ‘Real Food’ credentials and encouraging people to get back in the kitchen. Working closely with SuperValu’s NI food ambassadors, she ensured a holistic/end-to-end approach was adopted across the campaign, generating an advertising reach of 2 million and social media reach of over 1.2 million with 50k engagements. She also played a key role in helping secure SuperValu’s sponsorship of the BBC Good Food Show and is a strong supporter of SuperValu’s charity partner Action Cancer.

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