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Fairtrade ads ape the advertising of big name brands

LONDON - Fairtrade organisations are aping the success of high-profile ad campaigns for brands such as Nike and L'Oreal by focusing on the benefits to consumers rather than just their ethical value, research suggests.

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Haircare brand L'Oreal has long used the slogan "Because I'm worth it", to encourage consumers to buy its products. Recently, fairtrade coffee brand Cafedirect has adopted a similar approach that suggests that consumers' first responsibility is to themselves.

Its most recent campaign between 1999 and 2002 used the slogan "Do yourself a favour: discover fresh coffee" in its ad campaigns to emphasis that the product is good for their health as well as their karma.

The coffee brand has also used the slogan "Think it. Drink it", which the research compares with Nike's "Just do it" campaign.

The research has been published to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs March 3-16. The fortnight was launched by the new Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and has been supported by London Mayor Ken Livingstone, TV chef and food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall, secretary of state for trade and industry Patricia Hewitt and BBC news presenter George Alagaiah, also patron of the Fairtrade Foundation.

Fairtrade Fortnight has used a similar tactic to raise the profile of the event, which aims to promote goods that give disadvantaged producers a fair price for their goods. The event's ad slogan is "Trust your taste", to highlight the quality, flavour and consumer benefits of fairtrade products.

Dr Caroline Wright, from the University of Warwick, who conducted the research, said: "The fairtrade market is growing in the UK, but much progress is still to be made. There is still a huge gap between interest in and awareness of the issues and changes in purchasing patterns. Although 30% of people say they're concerned with ethical consumption, this translates into only 1%-3% regularly buying fairtrade."

The research said that the marketing campaigns employed by these brands helps raise awareness not just of the individual brands such as Cafedirect, but of fairtrade produce as a whole and are now beginning to compete with major brands on the shelves of high-street stores and supermarkets.

Cafedirect is now the sixth-biggest coffee brand in the UK and has plans to grow across the whole hot drinks market. Sales of Cafedirect's tea grew by 34% in 2002 and a new drinking chocolate, Cocodirect, has just been launched.

The research, called 'Consuming Lives, Consuming Landscapes: Interpreting Advertisements for Cafedirect Coffees', will be presented in the Consumption of Waste Stream of the British Sociological Association Annual Conference, April 11-13.

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