Shop Responsibly: collaboration in a time of crisis


Key Points

  • With no additional budget, Publicis Media and their FMCG clients wanted to urge consumers to behave responsibly when shopping 
  • A partnership with the three major broadcasters enabled a roadblock themed ad break with Shop Responsibly messaging throughout
  • Messaging from the campaign reached 85% of the country, encouraging more responsible behaviour

The Challenge

In March 2020, disruption and anxiety swept across the nation over the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, causing people to stockpile everyday essentials. Shelves emptied despite there being no lack of food or supply and it was these empty shelves that caused a herding behaviour. The public were irresponsibly overbuying products on a ‘just in case’ premise.

Publicis Media’s clients consisted of several FMCG brands that were at the heart of the panic buying. This presented them with the possibility of uniting a sector to urge consumers to behave responsibly when shopping. However, there wasn’t any additional budget, so achieving this had to come without costing the clients any extra money.

The TV Solution

In just two weeks, Zenith and Starcom combined forces to create a partnership between three broadcasters and five FMCG brands - Kellogg’s, Reckitt, Essity (Cushelle), Co-op and L’Oréal. All involved parties agreed that on this one occasion, sales did not matter. The ‘shop responsibly’ message was the important element.

They wanted something impactful to launch the campaign and so they created a simultaneous primetime roadblock ad break across ITV, Channel 4 and 20 of Sky’s top channels with the ‘Shop Responsibly’ endorsed messaging.

The Plan

With no extra budget and at unbelievable speed, they managed to carve out a whole break by using existing airtime that was already booked. The broadcasters were instrumental to the success of the project as they waived premiums to move around the airtime and their collaborative spirit was a fundamental part of why the special break was able to happen. 

On 16th April 2020 at 8pm, the campaign launched as a TV roadblock following the Clap for Carers. The break was introduced by a bespoke broadcast message that introduced the special break and encouraged viewers to shop responsibly. Then the ads played out in the usual way, but each ad was interspersed with a 5-second ‘Shop Responsibly’ ident - carrying messaging such as:

  • Shop Responsibly: Keep 2 Metres Apart
  • Shop Responsibly: Only Buy What You Need
  • Shop Responsibly: Stay Home Stay Safe.

The TV launch instantly gave the campaign mass reach, which was backed by social, B2B, PR and influencer marketing. The impactful TV themed ad break gave the supporting channels the impetus they needed to gain traction and spread the message.


  • Themed ad break achieved 60m impacts and reached 6m adults (12% 1+ coverage)
  • #ShopResponsibly themed roadblock achieved national news coverage
  • United a sector at no extra cost to promote responsible shopping during the pandemic
  • Gained industry support: IPA endorsement and The Retail Trust partnership
  • Messaging across the whole campaign reached 85% of the country

During this unparalleled time, we all have a role to play in the battle against Covid-19. This is especially true when it comes to the way we shop, and as a leading FMCG company we have the responsibility to amplify this campaign, reminding our consumers of the basic but fundamental principles of ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe and Shop Responsibly’.

Amos Susskind Managing Director, L’Oréal UK

As a food company we have a unique role to play at this time… We support this initiative as it will ensure that supply chains can continue to run smoothly and that everyone can shop safely, shop confidently and appropriately and access the goods they need during this crisis.

Dave Lawlor European President, Kellogg

We fully support the Shop Responsibly campaign in an effort to drive change in shopping behaviours - reminding consumers to buy only what they need, when they need.

Susan Egstrand Senior Vice President Europe and ANZ, Reckitt

Every brand and retailer is doing their best to manage a difficult situation. Through Essity’s support of the Shop Responsibly campaign, we aimed to drive heightened consciousness among consumers about the potential impact of their behaviours on others…

Nicola Coronado Marketing Director of Essity

Sector: FMCG

Brands: Kellogg’s, Reckitt, Essity, Co-op and L’Oréal

Campaign objectives: Encourage consumers to shop responsibly during the pandemic

Target Audience: All adults

Budget: £0

Campaign Dates: Launched 16th April 2020

TV Usage: Multi-channel roadblock on ITV, C4 and 20 Sky media channels

Media Agency: Publicis Media

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