Mmmph, mmmph, mmmph for FreshCo’s low prices

The global pandemic has given rise to yet another challenge for humankind: how to effectively communicate while wearing a mask.

It has also given rise to a wave of creative focused around mask-wearing, even leading (not at all surprisingly) to the addition of the term “mask breath” to the marketing lexicon.

But featuring masks in advertising can be a tricky proposition for brands. According to a U.S. study conducted by Ace Metrix earlier this year, consumer sentiment around masks in ads was split, even if it was done subtly.

“In order to maximize success, brands should handle masks as an authentic and necessary part of the story,” the study concluded.

That’s the approach grocery chain FreshCo has taken with a new online campaign from Toronto agency Juliet. The ad features a FreshCo employee (and yes, he does actually work for the company) outlining that week’s specials, except his voice is muffled by a mask, making him difficult to understand.

Instead, the discount grocery banner literally lets its prices do the talking, dropping prices for everyday grocery items like potato chips and produce over the man’s face as he talks.

“With all the mask-wearing, it’s true that nobody can understand what people are saying anymore,” says Juliet co-founder and chief creative officer Ryan Spellicsy of the creative approach. “Rather than trying to make one of those commercials we’ve all seen where people are awkwardly wearing a mask but not really acknowledging it, we decided to be really honest about it.

“If you can’t smile at some of this stuff, it’s hard. And there’s a nice truth in that we can’t always understand one another anymore.”

The new ads are in keeping with the larger brand platform “We let our prices do the talking” introduced earlier this year. That campaign, built around the insight that the only thing discount shoppers care about is low prices, has helped the company double its growth goals and shrunk the “price perception gap” between FreshCo and its competitors.

In other words, the response has not been at all muted.

Chris Powell