Mary Lyons

If you’ve ever been anywhere in the EU and have bought, say, a pair of sunglasses or a headset for your phone, you may have noticed a small insignia hidden somewhere on the product tag that says “CE”.

Commercial Insight for the Greater Good

This marking may seem insignificant, but CE certifies any piece of equipment sold in the EU as properly tested and proven safe for use. Not just for consumer products, but for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used to keep workers safe in hazardous environments.  We all care about protecting our eyes from UV rays, but when it comes to workers who handle toxic chemicals, repair buildings suspended at 100m, or operate heavy machinery, having safe PPE is a matter of life or death.

Health & Safety Managers all over the EU purchase PPE to protect construction workers, factory staff, and any EU employee who faces hazards at work. Despite this, 1.4 million people in the UK still suffered from a work-related illness in 2017. This cost the country £15 billion.

It’s the job of H&S Managers to know what’s required by law and most rely on the industry standard CE marking to help them specify equipment that will adequately protect their workforce from these dangers.

Pretty unsettling then to learn that this insignia in some cases, can’t be trusted and as a result PPE buyers could be unknowingly choosing equipment that is unsafe. For example, 30% of rigger gloves, which protect workers from life altering hand injuries, failed recent CE re-testing… despite them carrying the CE mark. There is a similar picture for numerous products bought and used daily across the EU.

Making the Case for the Commercial Insight

This is the powerful Commercial Insight that UK-based PPE supplier Arco, discovered and brought to market through impressive sales and marketing collaboration. You see, Arco is more than just a distributor of PPE, it’s a company dedicated to safety at work.  The company’s USP is their unrivaled position on safety expertise and quality, having an accredited testing laboratory which independently validates the true safety of each product marked CE. And not all products pass.

How do you tell a highly-experienced customer that the industry-standard practices they follow could result in civil and criminal penalties?

Just highlighting the strengths of Arco’s testing facilities wasn’t enough to educate customers who fundamentally believe that CE is the stamp of approval required. They had to un-teach customers’ belief that CE is sufficient before helping them buy the right products.

Shifting Marketing Strategies with Insights

Following Challenger’s framework for insight-based marketing content, Arco in partnership with the Challenger team and their creative agency Born + Raised, developed a series of linked up content that had H&S managers second-guessing their reliance on CE markings.

  • Spark: Short form “push” content that lives where customers are already learning (i.e., trade publications, professional association websites, industry news). It catches attention by presenting a new or unexpected perspective on a common problem.
  • Introduce: Long form content that dives deeper into the new perspective and helps the customer understand the problem.
  • Confront: Interactive, diagnostic content that helps the customer understand how significant the problem is for their own organization.

Arco and Born + Raised built out several pieces of content within the Spark, Introduce, and Confront framework and placed them within resources that H&S managers use on a regular basis to keep up-to-date (see the diagram below):


The star of this campaign is an informative seven-minute documentary featuring industry experts discussing how non-compliant PPE enters the supply chain whilst retaining the CE mark, and the serious civil and criminal consequences of supplying it for workers.

This is housed on a specially designed microsite along with an industry white paper and a diagnostic tool to help H&S managers identify their company’s risk areas.

This campaign not only resulted in high-quality leads passed to the sales team, but it also won the International B2B Marketing Award for Thought Leadership. It’s a particularly powerful example of how Commercial Insight not only benefits the companies who use it, but also benefits (to the point of preventing injury and saving lives) the customers they serve.

Mary Lyons