A mom packs the car for a family vacation, trying to avoid the cost of food on the road for kids who eat everything in sight.
Back in the kitchen, she calls her two sons “bottomless pits” who go through a loaf of bread a day and reminds them to chew.
Another mom wheels through a supermarket with a toddler, talking about how expensive small children can be with tastes that change every day.
These slice-of-life scenarios are highlighted in “Here’s the Deal,” a recent series of ads from Carlisle, Pa.-based GIANT Food Stores. The campaign, designed by the Brownstein Group, ticks all the boxes when it comes to communicating price, value and selection, the messages that have supported retail advertising for decades.
The campaign goes beyond the basics, however. It strikes at the heart of GIANT’S customer base — day-to-day challenges of customers and their families that impact where they shop.
“For us, a new campaign had to center around the real needs of our customers,” says April Mock, director of brand management at GIANT Food Stores. “Authentic customer moments will continue to be part of our storytelling.”
“When it came to developing a tone for the campaign message, we opted for the frank and plain-speaking approach,” says Gary Greenberg, executive creative director for the Brownstein Group. “Groceries can be expensive, kids can be demanding and road trips can be logistical nightmares. These ads are centered on consumer-to-consumer issues that Giant can solve.”
“We love how direct this one is in showcasing our prices and assortment, deciding factors for many customers when choosing where to shop,” Mock says.
“The name of the campaign gets to the strategy that fuels it. ‘Here’s the Deal’ conveys both value and a straightforward approach. And the spots are fun. Take the Road Trip spot. Who can’t relate to the chaos and anticipation of a family trip? The commercial highlights the hustle it takes to get on the road, but in a relatable and playful way,” she says.
“We hope it shows our customers that we get them and have empathy for their busy lives and that we can be a helping hand. We’re very happy with the reception the campaign has received so far. We love these spots and hope to show more real family moments using a similar approach. These will run on traditional channels as well as digital in order to reach our customers,” she says.
FOCUS THE MESSAGE
The campaign represents the evolution of retail messaging, according to Greenberg. “Companies like Walmart and Target have changed the entire landscape of creative advertising and, in many ways, raised the bar. The stakes are high, and the behemoths are spending a lot of media dollars, making it more competitive. You have to find a way to stand out — to outsmart the competition, not necessarily outspend them,” he says.
Whether ads are aimed at price or another factor, the overarching goal, as it is with GIANT, is reinforcing a brand image in consumers’ minds.
While more advertising is going online, Greenberg says a lot of ads are still for paid media, with special attention to event television like the Super Bowl, the Grammys and the Oscars and other high-profile media buys.
“Years ago, a client would come with a budget and you’d do three spots and that’s it. Today the budget might be the same or more, but you’re going to produce not only those three spots but also six online videos and digital ads or a pre-roll promotional video that plays before the user’s selected online content. They’re simply trying to create as much content as possible out of the investment they’re making,” he says.
“Companies and brands can’t afford to do one spot and run it once or twice. Now you have to be everywhere because people are consuming media in different places including phone and other mobile devices. Back in the day, there was ‘appointment TV’ when people had their favorite shows on primetime, and everyone sat down to watch at the same time. Today, messages have to be where people will see them.”
“A new campaign had to center around the real needs of our customers. Authentic customer moments will continue to be part of our storytelling.” — April Mock, GIANT Food Stores
A successful retail ad campaign, Greenberg says, “depends on the brand. For example, Walmart doesn’t have to pound away too much on price since they are already established as a price/value company. As such, they can send a little more of a campaign towards image.”
The key is not to overwhelm consumers. “If you give them too much to absorb, they may not take anything away. It’s about focusing the message the way GIANT has done and sticking with a campaign long enough to give it traction. Many advertisers don’t stick with ads long enough to resonate with consumers,” he says. “Messaging takes time and sticking with it gives you a strong strategic position that differentiates you from competitors.”
Timing has a lot to do with what a company is trying to accomplish. “An image campaign where you’re trying to reposition the brand takes a little more time,” Greenberg says, “especially if you’re telling customers something new or presenting yourself in a different way than before.”
MEETING THE CHALLENGE
Whatever the strategy, ads that create a clear tone or voice are the most effective. Getting strong direction from a client like GIANT is essential and a solid foundation from which to start the creative process, Greenberg says.
In developing “Here’s the Deal,” GIANT knew one of the biggest drivers of customer choice is price. “But every customer has different needs and wants, and it becomes very personal. We wanted to create a campaign where custom choices became more relatable,” Greenberg says.
“We were determined to speak in plain talk. We didn’t want the ads to sound like a sales pitch or pushy. It had to be in the voice of a customer so other customers watching it could relate to the scenario we created and know we understood their lives and families. We wanted to get across that GIANT understood the challenge in feeding two kids and taking them on vacation.”
As such, the television ads Brownstein created were based on real scenarios, he says. The company did 30-second spots which could be cut down to 15 seconds to bookend some of GIANT’s media buys.
Despite massive changes in the way people shop, Greenberg is firmly convinced that bricks-and-mortar is not going away. “But technology has given people access to anything they want online. And the ad business has to go where the eyeballs are,” he says.
“In the past, ads on the major networks got you most of the people you were trying to reach. But digital is more measurable in targeting who you’re talking to with the right message. We’re all immersed in data and we’re all trying to navigate through that now.”
Len Lewis is a veteran journalist and author covering the retail industry in the United States, Canada, Europe and South America.