CovidComms Awards Ireland

Aldi’s Brown Bread Competition

Aldi's Brown Bread Competition
Winner: Best campaign
CovidComms Awards Ireland

When the national lockdown thwarted plans for the National Brown Bread Competition, which is sponsored by Aldi, a rethink was needed, particularly as the bake off usually takes place at the National Ploughing Competition which had been cancelled due to Covid-19.

Aldi also had to consider how best to accommodate and include members of the Irish Country Women’s Association after regional heats also had to be cancelled. It was also mindful about the sensitivities of announcing such a competition to soon after lockdown eased.

Its solution was to introduce store drop off points. Aldi announced the competition on national radio, with bespoke adverts in place of its traditional photo call. Its brand ambassador Trish Lewis, chef at Cork’s Jacob’s on the Mall who is known for her no-nonsense approach to dieting, supported the launch with baking stories on her Instagram account, @Trishas.transformation.

Other influencers, known for baking during lockdown, were approached to support the competition, which was underpinned by a social media campaign to attract a younger demographic who had also got into baking during lockdown.

Eight stores across the country, where it was easier to maintain social distancing, were selected, along with Aldi’s head office in Kildare, as drop off points. These were made available to contestants to drop off their loaves of bread on specified days between set times.

For example, Aldi’s head office and stores in Dublin and Westmeath accepted competitors’ loaves between 10.30am and 1pm on 26 August. Three different stores accepted entries one week later, and a further three the following week. Extra staff were on hand to ensure the competitors were able to submit their loaves without difficulty.

The brown bread loaves were brought to Aldi’s head office on the days they were dropped off, for sampling the following day. More than 700 loaves were entered – a record for the competition which relaunched six years ago, and up almost 40 per cent on previous years.

The unexpected high volume of entries caused some problems for the judges, who had to maintain social distancing while comparing tasting notes and marks, but nothing that could not be overcome.

Four finalists were invited to Cooks Academy in Dublin in September for a final bake-off using Aldi’s ingredients. In line with government guidelines, only ten people were present at any time, despite a large team of finalists, judges, journalists and members of the communications team. The winner – Marie McCarthy from County Cork – received €15,000 and saw her loaves stocked in Aldi this year.

Aldi’s team said many lessons had been learned but said that the shorter time frame from judging to the final announcement of the winner – which had put extra pressure on logistics – resulted in higher campaign recall and levels of engagement. The winning bread is also experiencing record sales.

The judges described this as ‘a tremendously difficult exercise to pull off, given the sheer logistics involved’, but added: ‘The team approached the challenge with creativity and determination, and achieved excellent results along the way.’