Loblaw Companies introduces first master-branding campaign

Who: Loblaw Companies Ltd., John St. (creative), and Dentsu (media).

What: A new branding campaign using the tagline “Food Lovers Unite.” This is the first time Loblaw has run a master-branding campaign across its portfolio of “Market” (ie. non-discount) brands: Loblaws, Zehrs, Provigo, City Market, etc.

When & Where: The campaign launched last week and will now be always-on, with spikes in activity around food-focused holidays such as Easter. Media emphasis is on TV and digital.

About the agency: After first working on President’s Choice and then No Frills, this is the first time John St. has worked on branding for Loblaw.

Why: In recent years, the focus among Loblaw Market brands has been on tactical communications at a local level, rather than an integrated campaign with loftier, more purposeful messaging across the Market banners, says Wes Brown, vice-president of brand marketing at Loblaw. This campaign changes that. Loblaw wants a stronger, consistent food-quality message delivered across all of its retail brands—connected by Loblaw’s big orange and red “L.”

How: There are multiple layers here. First, Loblaw wants to present food lovers themselves as a brand, says Brown. Foodies love some things and hate others, but they are still united by their love of food. The creative shows that passion with a montage of hot-button food debates—is pineapple good on pizza, can you put ketchup on steak, and is cilantro good on anything*. “If food matters to you—love it or hate it—you are a food lover. So the campaign was about rebranding them as food lovers,” says Brown.

Second, the subtext is that all food lovers—no matter their tastes—care about food quality. Loblaw understands and wants to be the first choice for those people. Third, that messaging will now be delivered across all of its Market banners.

Why not just go with one banner? Consolidating the stores under one name would have been an option, says Brown. “But in research we found that these brands matter in these towns and regions and provinces. So it was important for us to keep that heritage in those markets.”

Media: It consists of a top-down, bottom-up strategy, says Brown. Loblaw master-branding creative will be localized with store logos, with community management and communications taking place at store level. In St. Catharines, Ont. for example, people will see the ad ending with Zehrs, while social and digital messaging will be led by employees at the local stores. “You are going to see conversations happening in and around your stores as food hubs. The food debates and conversations in St. John’s are much different than in Victoria,’ says Brown.

*Cilantro is bad on everything—db

*Counterpoint: Cilantro is delicious, especially with Thai food—cp


David Brown