On the menu for Sodexo Prestige in 2010 was a restructuring of the company, leading to a new and exciting recipe. Its secret ingredients? Their employees and the passion for the food they create every day. It’s an age-old saying, happy employees are better employees, so focusing an internal campaign around passion for good food and the amazing stories that sprang from within the organisation was Sodexo Prestige’s answer to the restructure, which saw two different areas of the business come together towards one common goal. In an industry where mass catering conjured up images of production line food created by uninspired people, Sodexo Prestige was up against tough competition. Not only were these feelings external to the company, but also within its own employee group.
Made up of email, direct mail and online components the campaign used stunning imagery and inspiring tales of those who create good food every day, and how much they love doing it. ’We are Sodexo Prestige’ is an example of a well targeted, meaningful marketing campaign leading to a more unified, informed and engaged internal community.
About the client company
Sodexo Prestige is the UK’s leading specialist event caterer and provider of corporate hospitality packages. It provides catering and event logistics services at prestigious events such as the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, golf’s Open Championship and Royal Ascot.
Following restructuring in late 2009, Sodexo Prestige rebranded itself around the ethos ‘Sow, grow, create, serve’, underpinning our seed-to plate passion for food and guiding all actions as a company.
The internal marketing campaign targeted 1,879 UK employees.
Strategy – broader business issues the company is facing
Prior to 2009, Sodexo Prestige’s remit was to cater at specialist sport and leisure venues, historic venues and events. In late 2009, the corporate services arm of the business merged with Sodexo Prestige. This posed issues as staff absorbed into the new business didn’t necessarily understand the passionate foodie ethos that already existed within the company. It was recognised that the staff as a whole needed to be introduced to the new company culture, one that was fuelled by a core passion for great-tasting food and that recognised their employees as key to their success.
Objectives of the campaign
The ‘We are Sodexo Prestige’ campaign aimed to achieve the following:
1. To communicate new brand positioning to employees
2. To increase engagement levels within the organisation making employees feel more valued and included in the company
3. Break down negative perceptions of Sodexo Prestige as a mass-producing catering company
4. To encourage engagement through a new website and social media channels
The target audience
The campaign was designed to target all Sodexo Prestige employees across all areas of the business; from staff in operational roles all the way to the executive team that lead Prestige. This posed some challenges in being able to produce a campaign targeted to a broad audience, all with different opinions of, and experiences with, the organisation. The major issues faced were:
• Employees’ preconceptions that Sodexo Prestige was a mass caterer that didn’t really care about food
• Wide geographic reach for the campaign – Sodexo Prestige operates all over the UK and Ireland
• Timeframe – following the restructure there was an urgency to convey the cultural shift to employees before they felt left behind and disengaged with the company
• Design that would appeal to the diverse group, making sure to incorporate employees across all levels of the business
• Access issues – as we have a number of operational staff based on sites, not all have access to online and email therefore these channels are extraneous to them.
Media, Channels and Techniques Used
The campaign involved three phases:
Media used – email marketing to Sodexo Prestige employees.
Photo shoot and employee stories
On 6 October a four day countdown email campaign began, sent to all Sodexo Prestige employees during work hours. This was a teaser campaign designed around food secrets and passions, incorporating executive members of staff. The campaign ended on the fifth day with an email welcoming staff as part of the new Sodexo Prestige, one which was focused on them, launching the new ‘Sow, grow, create and serve’ philosophy.
Media used – direct mail to Sodexo Prestige employees’ home addresses; conference calls; online.
A direct mail out to all Sodexo Prestige employees began the second phase. This mail out combated the issue we faced of some employees not having access to company email. The mail out contained a personalised letter highlighting each employee as a secret ingredient to the business as well as a secret ingredient notebook. The mail was sent out two days prior to the newly designed website launch and paralleled design to reinforce new branding and key messages. The new design used in all printed collateral and online has a strong focus on food and the people that make up Sodexo Prestige. This is achieved by using images of fresh produce, raw ingredients and people creating dishes suggesting freshly prepared food from quality produce. The content uses inclusive language and incorporates ‘real life’ stories of people working for Sodexo Prestige, highlighting that everyone’s contribution and passion is both recognised and vital to the business. Following the website launch and mail out, three conference calls were held over a five day period, led by managing director, Chris John, detailing the rebrand and offering employees the opportunity to ask questions and voice any opinions they had around the changes. Over 300 employees participated in these calls.
Media used - online
The third phase, still in progress, is centred around the new Sodexo Prestige website. The site features images and stories from Sodexo Prestige employees and all staff were encouraged to send in their story to be featured on the website. The website acts as a reference and information tool not only for external sources but for our employees. A blog with tips from our chefs, news items covering all areas of the business and staff stories, as well as feature stories and strong imagery, all combine to create a hub of Sodexo Prestige passion.
The restructuring process finished in late 2009 and the following six months were used to plan the new launch. Observing the operational changes within the company during this time allowed us to pinpoint major issues to overcome and highlight our strengths. Following this planning stage:
• Creative agency appointed - March 2010
• Research stage – from April 2010. This involved sourcing employees to feature as key figureheads and in depth photography shoots on locations throughout the UK.
• Design was incorporated in the six month period leading up to phase one
• Phase one – began 6 October 2010
• Phase two – followed the email campaign
• Follow up – began immediately after mail out had been sent
Our internal newsletter received an open rate of over 50 per cent, with over 700 internal unique users visiting our sites in the opening week. Visitors to SodexoPrestige.co.uk spent an average of 3.10 minutes on the site.
More importantly, following the launch we saw a direct improvement in our staff engagement levels. The measurement technique we use in Sodexo globally is an electronic e-mail survey supported by a paper survey completed in the units. This is sent out to the business every other year and is supported in the in between year by a pulse survey. Sodexo Prestige staff engagement rate increased to 47 per cent, three points ahead of the company UK average.