Sainsbury’s objective was to deliver clear and topical messages to as many of their supply chain as possible. They requested that we chose a well-known venue in London as it was a central location and they wanted to do everything possible to encourage people to attend. It was important that we also found a relevant speaker for the conference, that was fitting to their theme - “Building a distinctive Sainsbury’s”.
To fulfil Sainsbury’s environmental aspirations, the event had to adhere to their sustainability strategy which comprises of seven commitments, including fair trade products, reducing waste, reducing carbon emissions, and supporting local communities.
Even though the event didn’t go as planned, our team adapted and we’re able to utilise the planning they had previously done to deliver what was considered by everyone a brilliant virtual event, and most importantly Sainsbury’s key messages remained the focus throughout.
The virtual conference received some great feedback as more farmers and suppliers who are not normally able to attend, could log on and watch the live stream.
Sainsbury’s Farmers Conference.
The purpose of the event was to update farmers, growers, producers, and stakeholders on the business strategy and mobilise them to deliver it.
Venue-find and site visits
Delegate engagement and communications
Managing third-party suppliers
Designated project team
In order to deliver our objective of aligning the event to their company values and building on their theme, we delivered five creative concepts, all with sustainable and green options for the event.
Sainsbury’s has always had a strong relationship with the environment so when we were asked to pitch for their annual farmers conference, we wanted to show them the great relationships we already had with responsible suppliers.
Number of delegates
Number of days
1 (plus set-up day)
Firstly, we filtered our search to green venues whilst considering the space they required (500 seated delegates, handful of breakout rooms, catering and exhibition area) within Central London.
We proposed the following:
JW Marriot Grosvenor House
Marriot have committed to “Serve360, doing good in every direction” which outlines 4 key areas of sustainability and social impact goals – N, E, S, W – Nurture, Empower, Sustain and Welcome.
ExCeL work closely with their local community, Newham, and heavily support the charity community food enterprise, where a lot of the surplus food gets sent to. They also work with several green and sustainable programmes.
A wildcard option as it is outside of London, but with its links to agriculture, location, and the large space it was a great option. They have adopted their own scheme of the “three R’s” - Reducing, Reusing and Recycling which is at the top of any agenda.
Next was the theme for the event, we came up with several options and the one we finally selected was ‘Better Together’ as it’s a theme that works on multiple levels:
It’s about exploring Sainsbury’s partnerships and relationships with both the farming community and its customer base.
‘Better Together’ - Sainsbury’s and the farmers, Sainsbury’s and the Community, the farmers providing the best ingredients for Sainsbury’s menu items and finally, a play on words for ‘better’ (healthier) together (with Sainsbury’s).
Since this theme is very much about people; we wanted to focus on real stories and real people. Therefore, we opted to use natural black and white photography, supported by subtle colour highlights.
Every step of the delegate journey was considered to link with a sustainable, green, or ethical supplier.
We proposed a green astro turf entrance with rustic style crates of the farmers own fruits for a healthy start to the day.
We teamed up with Old Spike Roastery and transported it on Sainsbury’s delivery bikes. Old Spike Roastery specialise in training and working with the homeless and unemployed, they also plant a tree for every bag of coffee sold.
We sourced name badges printed on seeded paper which could then be planted after the event, it’s a great way to offset carbon but it’s also as a nice keepsake from the day.
Due to Covid-19, we had to postpone the event twice which involved re-securing new dates and re-negotiating contracts and cancellation clauses each time.
As the pandemic continued, we planned to switch to a hybrid event, using Sainsbury’s own facilities along with our Production and Creative teams to build a bespoke studio. However, even with the best-laid plans we made the final decision to take the 2020 event fully virtual via our digital event portal.
To add the green element to the virtual event, delegates were given the option of being sent a tree post event from the Woodlands Trust. Over 63% took up the offer of one of three UK native trees that the delegates could plant where they wish.
Congratulations to all who had an input and considering the format change it was all managed very well.
The use of video clips to break up the presentations was well used and as mentioned I found these most interesting. Thank you!
Please repeat 2020 format, it felt more personal and engaging, with. I personally enjoyed 2020 Conference more than previous events.
Many thanks for all the Sains team involved - huge amount of work will have gone into the event and grateful that you retained this in the annual schedule.