Sobeys and BBDO tell a story about families helping families for Christmas campaign

Who: Sobeys, with BBDO for strategy and creative, UM for media, and Grayson for music.

What: The grocer’s Christmas marketing campaign, anchored by a 30-second TV spot: “The Greatest Gift is Family.”

When & Where: The brand spot is on TV now, with additional product-focused advertising running through digital, social and in its flyer.

Why: Way back on March 24, days after most of the country went into lockdown because of coronavirus, the Sobeys marketing team met to brief BBDO about the holiday campaign. “It was probably one of our first Zoom meetings,” says vice-president of brand strategy Guylaine Lessard. “We knew when we briefed we didn’t know what Christmas would look like this year, but we knew that it would be different.”

But they believed it would be a Christmas where family bonds would feel particularly important and valuable. That expectation was to be the focal point of the campaign, aligned as it is with Sobeys brand positioning around family, including the tagline “Canada’s family grocery store.”

For the Christmas campaign, Lessard asked BBDO to come up with a story about family that would produce an emotional connection with consumers. “I remember saying this is our opportunity to really reinforce what the brand stands for,” she said. “So it’s a brand-led campaign during holidays, versus a holiday campaign.”

Aside from that, Sobeys wanted to have a social good component and supporting tactical and product communications to drive sales. “So we win [customers’] hearts, and their baskets,” said Lessard.

How: The TV spot shows a mother and daughter leaving a Sobeys store with bags of groceries. They drive to a house, but rather than being their home, we see that it’s the home of a family in need. “The act of doing this together as a mother and daughter, it feeds their family bonds,” said Sarah Henderson, BBDO’s chief strategy officer. “But then the act also enables another family to feed their family bonds over the holiday period.”

The ad ends with the super “The greatest gift is family,” and a call to donate in-store beginning Dec. 3 in order to help families in need (the social good component Lessard asked for). Helping families in need was a cause introduced by Sobeys in its “One Big Family” ad back in April. “What we’re doing now is really the second chapter of the same narrative,” she said.

The message is that families are important and something that people should be investing in at this time of year, said Henderson. “And of course we know that food moments are a big part of how families feed their bonds, and so [Sobeys has] a role to play there.”

Aside from the TV ad, Sobeys will be using data-driven, digital channels to push product and promotions, said Lessard. “The assets would be online videos, we also have digital display, carousel Facebook ads, or Instagram. So we use pretty much digital and social for mid and lower funnel.”

The music: Ron Sexsmith’s “Maybe this Christmas.” “The song really struck a chord and worked so well with the story we were trying to tell,” said Henderson. “The vocals complement the spot in a great way, helping to really bring out the sentiment while enhancing the performance of our incredible storytellers.”

David Brown