Coop Organic Effect

The Organic Effect, a campaign for Swedish supermarket chain Coop, won the PR Grand Prix at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. The Coop Organic Effect experiment focused on the Palmbergs, a family of five, hoping to reveal the impact of switching to organic food. A video covering the experiment has had over 5.5 millions views since its release in May 2015. The campaign site, coop.se/ekoeffekten (Swedish) and coop.se/organiceffect (English), includes a full report on the experiment conducted by Swedish Environmental Research Institute IVL.

Coop Organic Effect chart

The Coop Organic Effect Project

Coop has been a pioneer for organic food in Sweden since the 1980s — helping farmers switch from conventional to organic, working to make organic food more accessible for consumers and challenging politicians to do more for the production of organic food in Sweden. But this is an international issue, since what we eat comes from all over the world. And the result of this experiment concerns everyone who eats. So while the primary goal of the campaign is to strengthen Coop’s brand in Sweden, it also aims to give organic farming a push globally.

The Coop Organic Effect experiment was inspired by scientific studies showing that if you eat conventional food, you have a number of pesticides in your body. And that if you switch to organic food, most of these pesticides will be gone within a few days. Very few people know about this, perhaps because very few people read scientific reports. So we decided to conduct, and film, an experiment with a family switching from conventional food to organic. We recruited a family that didn’t eat organic food, the Palmbergs. Then we recruited IVL, who made it clear that they couldn’t guarantee that we’d see the same result. It was likely, but not certain. They started by choosing twelve pesticides to look for. (You only find what you look for, so among all the different pesticides that are used in the world today, they had to choose a manageable number.) The first week the family ate only conventional food, and urine samples were taken from everyone in the family, every day. Eight of the chosen twelve pesticides showed up in their urine. Then they switched to 100 % organic food for two weeks. New urine samples were taken, and after a few days almost all of the pesticides were gone.

Crop Protection Pushback

The Swedish Crop Protection Association (Svenskt Växtskydd), the trade association for Swedish crop protection companies, has taken Coop to the Swedish Market Court (Marknadsdomstolen) for misleading and inaccurate advertising. The association calls the marketing campaign unethical, illegal and rigged, and calls for Coop to stop using the misleading advertisement or face a penalty payment of 2 million Swedish Crowns (~240k USD). Svenskt Växtskydd is concerned that the experiment didn’t test pesticides used in organic farming. The video, unlike the online documentation behind the experiment, fails to mention that the levels detected in the experiment pose no known risk.

Credits

The Coop Organic Effect was developed at Forsman & Bodenfors by copywriter Johan Olivero, art directors Johan Eghammer and Johanna Hofman-Bang, designer Viktor Brittsjö, agency producer Åsa Hammar, planners Amelie Sandström, My Troedsson, digital producer Helena Wård, account managers Lena Grundström and Patrik Danroth, account director Anders Härneman.

Filming was shot by director Marcus Svanberg via Acne Film with producer Kristofer Larsson, director of photography Anders Jedenfors, and offline editor Henning Mark.

Post production was done at Nordisk Film Shortcut. Sound was produced at Plop Produktion.

Video distribution through Be On was managed by Jenny Canborn, Renée Vennberg, Carl-Christian Dyrssen and Maria Molsa.