The UK General Election - 4th July 2024

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CASE STUDY

Eat.Play.Love

How PLMR and Ella’s Kitchen mobilised thousands of families and put sensory food education on the political agenda.

The Situation

Ella’s Kitchen is the UK’s largest baby food brand. A B-Corp, Ella’s was founded to help every little one to grow up happy, healthy and never hungry and have long campaigned to improve the nutrition of children in the early years. Our latest campaign together is Eat.Play.Love – a public affairs and PR campaign to persuade the Department for Education to champion sensory food play in early years educational settings, to help children try, and eat, more fruit and vegetables.

This comes after shocking statistics show that only 18% of children eat the recommended 5 portions of fruit and veg a day and research by independent experts found that sensory food play could be the key to helping little ones develop healthy relationships with food. One of the key issues we faced in executing the campaign was the fact that sensory food education as a concept is new to the UK, and politicians needed extensive education about what it is, the evidence behind it, and why they should back it as a policy.

As a result, PLMR was tasked with devising a quick, efficient, and eye-catching digital tool to engage as many MPs as possible on the topic, while also mobilising members of the public at the same time. Key to our brief was keeping the method ‘kids first’ by spotlighting children in our engagement and putting their needs front and centre of the digital campaign.

What we did

PLMR’s digital team produced a bespoke “email your MP” platform for Ella’s Kitchen which allowed members of the public to petition their representative directly with only a few clicks. Our team developed software that allowed a user to be matched instantly to their local MP via just their postcode; once matched the site took the user to a page where a prewritten email was displayed for their specific MP, which could then be instantly sent via the platform on their behalf.

Users only needed to enter their name, their spouse’s name, their email and their home address to send the letter and were also encouraged to include their children’s names too – which would be added to the letter dynamically as a co-signatory. Users could even choose a personalised “handprint” as a signature from their child, which would also be included in the email to their local MP.

The data from this platform was constantly analysed to provide additional support to our wider communications team, allowing us to plan activity and respond dynamically to areas with a high concentration of letter-writing as well as a low concentration. The anonymised data from this platform allowed us to understand how all of our work was impacting the number of letters being sent in each area, providing invaluable minute-by-minute analysis of our activities and their levels of success.

By being well-built and easy to use, the platform quickly generated hundreds of visitors from all across the UK, with over one thousand households signing up within the first 24 hours. The platform also encouraged easy social sharing once completed, generating organic social traction as the campaign progressed.

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Number of individuals mobilised to email their local MP
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Number of MPs reached with tailored emails from constituents (the entire House of Commons)
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Number of MPs who wrote directly to the Department for Education to raise the issue

The Result

In less than 24 hours, over 1000 people had sent a letter to their MP using our platform. In just two months, that number rose to over 5,000 families. Through our tool, the letter reached every single MP in the UK, meaning that every constituency was represented, and ensuring the issue had been raised as widely as possible. Hundreds of MPs then wrote to the Department for Education, and engaged directly with Ella’s Kitchen, to learn more about our asks. Several MPs, including Alex Sobel MP (Shadow Minister for environment, food and rural affairs) and Chi Onwurah (Shadow Minister for Business) also asked Parliamentary Questions about sensory food play to the Children’s Minister directly.

As a result, we were able to secure a public commitment of support from the Department for Education about sensory food play as an educational tool, with an aim of rolling it out to early years settings across England explicitly stated for the first time. The Scottish Government also proactively contacted Ella’s Kitchen to arrange a meeting to see how our asks could be translated to Scotland – making our reach even wider than originally planned.

In short, more children will now have access to sensory food play in early years settings as a result of our tool’s ability to mobilise the public and engage local MPs. We’re also one step closer to achieving our ultimate goal of ensuring every little one in the UK has access to high-quality, well-funded, food education that supports their health and wellbeing.

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PLMR’s crisis communications experience is second to none, and includes pre-emptive and reactive work across traditional and social media channels. We work with a range of organisations to offer critical communication support when they are faced with difficult and challenging scenarios.

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