The team at The Watercress Company are brushing down their DJs and posh frocks as their #watercress challenge, Grab it, Try it, Share it campaign has reached the finals of the 2020 Food & Drink Federation Awards for Campaign of the Year.
Left on tenterhooks until 4 February 2021 when the winners will be announced at a ceremony in London, they are justly proud to have reached the finals especially considering the calibre of the companies, brands and marketing budgets they are up against; The Watercress Company is punching well above its weight!
The other 6 finalists are
- Bird’s Eye – Bird’s Eye Steamfresh Eat in Full Colour
- Britvic Soft Drinks – Sticky situation? Time to Tango
- Company Shop Group – Surplus SuperHeroes by Company Shop Group
- KP – KP ‘Check Your Nuts’ Movember Campaign
- Meatless Farm – The Meatless Consumption Target
- Mondelez International – ‘Donate your Words’
How have they managed to rub shoulders with so many massive brands? Well, over the last 12 months or so, The Watercress Company has been making gargantuan efforts to promote the health benefits of watercress to a wider audience.
Tom Amery, MD of The Watercress Company explains: “Traditionally the watercress consumer has been slightly older, more familiar with the scientific research that was published 15 to 20 years ago and which helped to communicate the health advantages of eating watercress, including the possible prevention of some cancers. These messages have not reached the next generation and so efforts to communicate with a younger audience, while not alienating the loyal older customers were needed.”
These efforts took several forms:
- Direct communication with schools either through visits by local schools to the watercress farms or by The Watercress Company team going into schools to talk about watercress and why it’s so good for you, best of all encouraging youngsters to give it a go, either fresh from the bed or in a tasty, brilliant green smoothie!
- The Watercress Company worked with ambassadors from various walks of life, to get got everyday people to demonstrate how to include more watercress in their diet. Potential ambassadors applied for the ‘job’ and were sent free watercress. They might be into fitness, they may be foodies, or simply mums trying to encourage their kids to eat more greens, but in return for the watercress, they were asked to write a blog or social media posts to describe how they had used it, providing images of recipes, and how eating it had made them feel.
- Gyms and leisure centres were identified as places where younger people went who already had a desire to be fit and so were prime candidates for eating more watercress. The Watercress Company branded several fridges and delivered them to gyms and fitness centres around the South West. The ‘Grab-a-Bag- Stations’ or fridges, were packed full of watercress and club members were encouraged to ‘grab it, try it and share it’ by simply posting on social media what they had done with the watercress, tagging the post with the line #watercress challenge.
- The natural progression from fitness clubs was to move the fridges to places where people were focussing on health in a different way – hospital. The Watercress Company has a long standing relationship with their local Dorset County Hospital. To broaden the reach of watercress and the relationship with the hospital, the Grab-a-Bag fridge was installed in the restaurant where everyone, from staff, to visitor, to patient could take a bag and enjoy fresh watercress and its health benefits. With the commencement of lockdown, the free watercress was provided purely for the key workers and hospital staff, who, exhausted from working long shifts were grateful to have 24 hour access to fresh, healthy veg. To date The Watercress Company has provided over 20,000 free bags via the ‘Grab-a-bag-scheme’ with Dorset County Hospital.
- The Watercress Company provided literally tonnes of free produce for top quality chefs involved with the ‘Heroes Initiative’ to provide hard working doctors and nurses at hospitals nationwide with mouth-watering restaurant quality food. Through partnerships with top chefs Francesco Mazzei, and Michelin Star Chef, Galton Blackiston, freshly cooked, healthy meals involving watercress were supplied to hundreds of key NHS staff in hospitals in London and Norfolk.
- The Watercress Company understands the importance of chefs and their support in promoting watercress as a versatile ingredient and have long cultivated and nurtured relationships with up and coming chefs as well as more established ones. As part of the #watercress challenge an event was held in London where chefs predicted to be the next ‘big thing’ gathered for an inspiring ‘night of watercress’ with talks about its health benefits, its versatility and the different ways it can be used, before tucking into several courses brimming with watercress inventiveness, for once prepared and cooked for them.
- In February The Watercress Company began trials with Dorset County Hospital in an effort to help the NHS tackle a fundamental issue relating to patient nutrition, with the introduction of a nutrient dense watercress soup with high energy and protein levels that is rich in vitamins and minerals – literally what the doctor ordered!
The soup trials have the genuine potential to be a real game changer for the NHS and provide a win-win situation for all. If the soup takes off and is adopted across the NHS, it will enable The Watercress Company to use 90,000kg of UK winter grown crop which might otherwise go to waste. At the same time, the soup which can be made within the existing constraints of the daily meal budget provided to hospital catering staff, provides patients with real food rather than supplements, which will potentially save NHS Trusts money, and best of all the patients benefit from a nutrient-dense, tasty soup that is easy to eat and will aid their recovery.
- Finally, with the drive for sustainability being key for all food and drink businesses, The Watercress Company has taken inspiration from the past and launched traditional handcrafted bunches wrapped in 100% compostable paper cones to meet consumer demand for less plastic. The 150g bunches are wrapped in sustainable paper made in the Lake District and printed with natural, British ink. The paper is lightly coated in biodegradable plant wax to make it waterproof and the wrap is suitable for home-composting.
Already stocked by Ocado under the name Wholegood Organic Watercress, other national distributors currently stocking bagged watercress are looking at listing the bunches in the coming months, while they’re also available direct from The Watercress Company and from selected grocers, butchers, farm shops and box schemes nationwide.
All that achieved in little over a year – phew! Surely this is work worthy of recognition and an award? All will be revealed in February.