The Salvation Army and New Covent Garden Food Co

Soup and salvation are seen as a winning combination

The Royal Horticultural Society, the Bat Conservation Trust and the Salvation Army might appear to be a disparate collection of charities, but they have been carefully chosen as partners over the past few years by the New Covent Garden Food Co.

According to Nick Munby, senior brand manager at the company, they all appeal to a particular type of consumer that is likely to purchase the firm's range of soups.

"One of the main factors in the selection of those charities has been access to our key target audience," he says. "That market is what we call empty nesters - couples living at home on their own after the children have moved away."

The Salvation Army is the newest addition. In 2008, New Covent Garden's PR agency, 360, was tasked with finding a suitable partner for a Christmas soup promotion. The charity, known historically for providing 'soup and salvation' and for its continuing role in helping the homeless, was approached.

The campaign, which is being repeated this Christmas, has two elements. First, New Covent Garden's soup of the month for December has been branded with the Salvation Army logo. The charity will also receive a proportion of the sale price, forecast to be about £12,000 in total.

On 27 November, Salvation Army members and supporters took part in the Soup Kitchen Challenge, a fundraising event in which they made their own soup and sold it to family and friends.

Celebrities such as Sir Cliff Richard, actor Sheila Hancock and TV chef Ainsley Harriott also supported the day, and a special Soup Kitchen Challenge was held for MPs.

The partnership is expected to raise at least £15,000 this year and will be repeated in 2010. But Major Ivor Telfer, assistant secretary for the programme at the Salvation Army, says he believes that it is also about encouraging healthy eating. "We are very concerned about healthy living and lifestyles, and soup, especially home-made soup, is a very healthy fast food," he says.

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