Our idea was inspired by a simple truth – in the UK, one million older people go for over a month without speaking to anyone.
We wanted to help change this, and find a way to bring back a sense of community to lonely elderly people.
What better way to do this than around arguably the most important symbol of togetherness in family life – the Sunday Roast.
Bisto partnered with charity Contact the Elderly to launch Spare Chair Sunday - a project that encouraged families to invite a local older person to their Sunday lunch.
A TV and radio campaign drove people to the website (www.bistotogetherproject.com), where volunteer hosts could sign up to offer a spare chair at their table. They were then matched with an older person in their local area.
We needed families with a space at their table to offer to host a Spare Chair Sunday. So we targeted them with TV, radio and social spots at relevant times - such as dinner time when people were naturally sitting with their own family eating their dinner.
Each communication drove people online to the Bisto Together Project website, where they’d enter their details. They were then matched up with a lonely older person in their local area, and the Spare Chair Sunday was arranged.
• Over 5,500 people have signed up, most groups that have taken part are looking to make it a regular occurrence.
• The activity reached 2.6 million adults across the country and the charity achieved 63% of its five-year sign-up goal within four months.
• The cause grew beyond our initiative, with many more setting up their own lunches and some even telling Bisto the campaign reminded them to see their older relatives more often.
• Spare Chair Sunday contributed to Bisto achieving its highest ever 4 w/e brand share in December at 80.3% and also supported growing the Best brand by 20% in December.
This campaign wasn’t simply about convincing people to buy a product. This campaign asked people to do something quite contrary to British culture – invite a stranger into their home.
As a brand that believes in the power of food to bring people together, Bisto set out to facilitate togetherness in communities through inspiring, empowering and enabling real people to take action.
The response was so successful that even when the campaign was over, consumers took it upon themselves to continue with the activation ‘unofficially’ – outside of the campaign.
With our target audience being all British families, our campaign needed to have wide cultural relevance.
At the time, the loneliness of the elderly was a big topic. Sadly, Bisto research revealed that Sunday – a day normally reserved for being together with loved ones – was the loneliest day of the week for 1 in 7 over 65s.
So we decided to use the Sunday Roast as an opportunity to help the problem, and encourage families to invite a lonely older person round for dinner.
What we were trying to convince people to do was something quite out-of-their-comfort-zone. So our campaign needed to be emotional and inspiring enough to engage our audience, but also simple and direct enough to get people to actually sign up and take part.
This was not about guilt-tripping our audience into action, be empowering them to want to do something good.