Who: President’s Choice, with Loblaw Companies Ltd.’s in-house agency for creative and strategy, media by Loblaw’s in-house media team and Dentsu, PR by Citizen Relations, and production by Merchant (directed by Tim Godsall).
What: “#HeyPC,” a new brand platform that asks customers to share their feedback about the brand using the #HeyPC hashtag.
When & Where: The campaign launched Monday and will run indefinitely on TV, online, digital out-of-home and, of course, social.
Why: In an email to PC Optimum loyalty plan members, Loblaw’s chair and president Galen Weston explained that since he first started writing letters to customers at the start of the pandemic, they’ve received more than 15,000 responses.
That interaction was the inspiration for the new campaign, with Loblaw asking people to share their feedback using social media: “[O]ver the coming year, watch out for #HeyPC in your feeds, and be sure to include it in your own stories,” said Weston. “We want to hear from you. Not just the feedback that makes us smile, but all the big and little, good and bad PC moments in your life that make us think and drive us to do better.”
“We know that customers love to share their stories and experiences with us, and we really wanted to shine a light on it,” said Meghan Nameth, senior vice-president of marketing at Loblaw. Asking for stories through popular social channels is the most authentic and transparent way to engage with PC customers and get their feedback—good or bad.
“The benefit is definitely that we get better… by listening to our consumers,” she said. But it’s also a way for people to hear about the brand from other people. “Rather than us tell our story from our perspective, it’s certainly better for consumers to tell the story of the brand and the impact it’s had on their lives.”
How: The campaign launched with a 60-second spot (and a :30 running on TV) featuring Weston—once the face of Loblaw advertising—going back in front of the camera to provide a wide sampling of the kinds of feedback the company has received from customers on everything from its no-fee banking, to Yuzu cheesecake, and excessive plastic packaging, and the value of organic produce.
“All these people shared their PC stories with us,” says Weston to close the spot. “If you’ve got a suggestion, a complaint, whatever, let us know, because that is how we make things better.”
What about the haters? Loblaw launched the program on its social channels Monday. While many of the replies and comments on Instagram and Facebook seem to be from people engaging earnestly about products and their experiences with the brand, more than a few of the comments on Twitter were negative, combative and accusatory—demanding that Loblaw pay its employees more, for example.
There’s no doubt that asking for feedback will bring criticism. The constructive criticism helps Loblaw understand how its consumers feel and make changes for the better—they’ve noticed a lot of interest in PC’s Louisiana hot sauce, for example.
And some of the criticism will be less constructive—people who are not interested in engaging with the brand team and would rather criticize. Loblaw is prepared for that. “My experience on social with any brand has been that a lot of times your biggest advocates speak out on your behalf because they don’t feel the same way,” said Nameth.
But Nameth also believes the benefits of the campaign will outweigh the negatives. “Yes, I hope this doesn’t sort of go down a place where people are overly negative, but you know, it is important for us to be transparent about the feedback we’re receiving, and then what we’re doing about it.”
On Loblaw’s in-house agency: “It really is an opportunity for us to showcase the growth of our Loblaw agency,” said Nameth. “They really led all the work and will continue to lead the work for the PC brand. We’re staffing up and building capability at the agency, which is great, allowing us to be faster, more agile. It’s a bit more efficient.”