Recipes for success

The Specialist Works' Emma Smith revisits an old client campaign as part of the IPA's Strategic Bootcamp.

We are spotlighting some of the best essays from our MIPA qualifying courses and qualifications. Here, The Specialist Works' Emma Smith earned a Distinction at the IPA's Strategic Bootcamp by looking back at a previous client campaign and applying the lessons learned during the workshop.

This essay has been edited to anonoymise the client.

The Brief:

The Specialist Works were asked to build and suggest formats for an effective campaign for a food subscription service. They want more customers to be purchasing their product and subscribing for a long period of time (12+ boxes).

The Company:

The client are a recipe box company. They deliver to your door, all the fresh ingredients that you need to cook delicious meals from home. Their message is very much around adding 'adventure' to meal times and encouraging people to cook interesting meals every day. 

The Where:

The key problem that the client face is around getting people to move from their current spending habits for food i.e. from visiting the supermarket for ingredients and cooking at home,  to subscribing to the client and cooking new exciting recipes.

"Our customers are unsubscribing after the second box, because they don’t see the full prices boxed as being value for money"

The diagnosis – People are stuck in their current spending habits and patterns when purchasing food to cook at home. They think that cooking can be boring, and that to cook delicious meals at home, it will be expensive or time consuming.

The where – Show consumers that cooking at home doesn’t need to be mundane. You can have delicious, adventurous meals delivered directly to your door. Every week.

Now, our client are thinking the long game in that they want to find customers that they can then retain. However, they have little power over who will remain customers. So, I would refocus the strategy on initial acquisition, getting as many people as possible to buy in to the brand in the first place.

The Who:


  • Everyone wants to be able to have delicious meals
  • People need flexible subscriptions to fit in to their changing lifestyle
  • Consumers want more choice
  • Changing lifestyles mean that consumers want an alternative to shopping in supermarkets
  • Consumers have a lot of food waste each week
  • We tend to get lazy with our food choices and often cook the same meals
  • With costs of living rising, we’re all looking for ways to save money
  • Trust in a brand is extremely important, especially when it comes to what we eat

The client are targeting people that want to be more adventurous with their food choices and meal plans. Therefore, they want to target people that ultimately like food and most likely already do the cooking at home.
Using the insights above we can put a better picture together of the type of people that we want to target through advertising. For insert campaigns we can select food lover titles such as Good Food. We know that the offering may not be ‘cheap’ and we’re particularly looking at people that are time poor, who want the convenience of home delivery. Therefore, we can look to target working couples with busy lifestyles. Who still want to be able to cook and enjoy nice food.

The What:

By subscribing, they are putting adventure back in to their meal times. Instead of eating the same food every night, they can look forward to coming home and cooking with more adventure.

The food delivery box market is becoming over-saturated and therefore as a brand we’d need to devise a strategy for how they can stand out from the crowd. A couple of suggestions that I would make, would be around really shouting about the number of interesting recipes that they offer. If you look at companies such as Hello Fresh and the Mindful Chef, they have around 10 recipes to choose from each. Often not providing a huge amount of variety. Whereas we offer around 30 recipes to choose from each week. This offering would lend itself well to a more regular customer, purchasing on a weekly basis. As they would not be eating the same meals week in, week out.

Alongside this, they can also address issues that the busy consumer faces with being time-poor and not being able to get in to the busy supermarket. The majority of us know that visiting the supermarket on a Sunday is absolute mayhem. For couples that work full-time, the weekends could be the only time that they get to visit the busy supermarkets. So what if you could get fresh ingredients delivered to your door?

"If only I knew then, what I know now…" - I’d have created a CLEAR Strategy


Current consumer spending habits show that there is a huge increase in sales of junk food and takeaways, due to consumers being time-poor and not knowing what to cook


These days, most people see cooking evening meals as being the chore. They’ve lost the excitement that they used to have for cooking, because they are too time poor and it’s easier to cook the same things.


Put the fun back in to cooking again, by showing the average person that you can cook delicious, fresh meals at home. Without the need to go to the supermarket.

It is a lifestyle choice, we’re asking the customer to change their spending habits when buying food. What do they get for changing their spending habits? ADVENTURE. And who doesn’t like a little bit of adventure? Fed up of spag bols’ and stir fry’s daily? Wegive you 30 different recipes to choose from.

The creative concept to match the strategy:

"A dollop of adventure delivered to your door"

Clear messaging, explaining exactly what we can offer for you. Fruit and veg jumping out of the box and showing the consumer that dinner time can be exciting again. It doesn’t need to be difficult.

"Shake up dinnertime"

Let’s make dinner times more interesting again! You can look forward to coming home to a home-cooked meal, at restaurant standard. Addressing the problem that consumers currently face with not knowing what to cook each night – so ultimately cooking the same thing.

"Delivering precise ingredients, delicious recipes and a dollop of adventure to your door"

This tagline is short, sweet and gets to the root of the problem. We’re addressing the fact that we’re all guilty of food waste. Going to the supermarket and buying packs of salad and chicken, and only using half the pack before it goes off. We only give you exactly the ingredients that you need.

Delicious Meals in 10 minutes

Our strategy is specifically targeting time-poor individuals who want the convenience of a food delivery service. Therefore, if we’re then asking them to slave away in the kitchen for hours, the offering may not be very appealing. Introducing the idea of 10-minute meals, addresses the concerns of the consumer in that cooking is time consuming.

"From £2.98 a head"

Following our insights on spending habits of consumers, we know that due to the rise in living costs, consumers are continually looking for ways to save money. We often think that cooking adventurous food will be expensive. If you break the costs down and advertise the offer as eating for '£2.98 per head', it sounds much more appealing.

"Flexible weekly meal plans"

We know that your lifestyle is ever-changing and so we’re giving you flexibility. You’re not tied in to any kind of contract with us. We’re transparent in that you can pause & cancel your subscription at any time!

Meal Plans Done

We know that coming up with a meal plan for the week can be far too much effort! We make it easy for you. We give you exactly what you need. You’re far too busy for the hassle of going to the supermarket and deciding what you’re going to eat. So we can take care of that for you. You don’t even have to leave the house.

An introductory offer, with 30% off your first box… Plus every other box for your first month

If pricing is an issue, which it often is. Then we’re giving you an introductory offer, try our food at amazingly low prices. We know that you’re going to want to stay with us past the first box, so we’re rewarding you with money off the rest of your boxes for that month too!

Trustpilot Reviews

We know that to spend with a brand, you need to be able to trust in it. If you don’t know a brand, you might be reluctant to invest. If we show you that lots of other consumers are using the client and they’ve had a great experience. Then you might be inclined to do the same. The market we live in very much shows that people don’t want to miss out on something. Products can ‘go viral’ purely because nobody wants to be the only person to not have something.

The Strategy in one sentence

We want to gain more customers, by targeting time poor food-lovers, who want to be more adventurous with their food choices. By showing them that it doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming and that you can cook delicious, fresh food, at-home without leaving the house.

Emma Smith is a Senior Account Executive at The Specialist Works. This essay earned her a Distinction on the IPA's Strategic Bootcamp, which is running next during EffWeek 2019 in October.

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Last updated 01 May 2024