Sobeys embraces family moments with ‘So.Be.It’

Who: Sobeys, with FCB for strategy and creative; Ad Hoc for production; School for editing; Grayson for audio; North Strategic for PR; and UM for media.

What: “So.Be.It,” a new brand platform that is an obvious play on the company’s name, and is anchored in the idea that there’s nothing more rewarding than the little moments of family life involving food, even when they’re occasionally messy and unpredictable.

When & Where: The platform debuted last week, and is being supported by an extensive media campaign that includes a pair of 30-second TV spots, as well as online video, social, print, and in-store. The first wave of advertising runs through Nov. 2, when Sobeys will transition to holiday-themed messaging.

Why: Erica DeHaas, vice-president of corporate marketing at Sobeys, said the platform is intended to be a “bedrock” element of the company’s communications strategy, uniting all of the grocer’s channels—including sponsorship, loyalty and in-store activity—while still retaining the “Canada’s family grocery store” positioning that has been a staple of its communications approach.

“We wanted to create something that’s ownable and authentic, and really spoke to the attitude of Sobeys as a brand,” said DeHaas. “[It’s communicating that] life isn’t always perfect, and it can be a bit messy, but Sobeys ultimately always has your back.” It’s a differentiated positioning that allows it to emphasize key marketing planks such as fresh and local with lines such as “So.Fresh” and “So.Local.”

How: “So.Be.It” seems like a natural use of the company’s name, but it’s the first time the company has ever used the phrase in its marketing, said DeHaas. “It was like a lightbulb [moment]; it was just a natural connection…we wanted something relatable that really embodies our culture.”

The creative lightheartedly plays on slice-of-life family moments. One of the two TV spots, “Salty Baker,” shows a father and son preparing for a school bake sale, only for the dad to discover that the son has been using salt instead of sugar in the array of baked goods they’ve made, concluding with the phrase “So you forgot toddlers can’t read.”

A second spot, “Actually,” shows a family sitting down to dinner, only for the son to point out that he learned in school what constitutes a nutritious meal—and it’s not what’s on the plate in front of him. It concludes with the message “So your kid is teaching you a lesson.” In-store and out-of-home activations use high-impact visuals accompanied by messages like “So.Gooey” and “So.Tricky.”

“We understand as a brand and a family of companies that life isn’t always perfect,” said DeHaas, but it’s about embracing those moments with a glass half-full attitude.

And we quote: Sobeys has been Canada’s family grocery store for more than 115 years. It’s in our DNA. As families settle back into fall routines, our new ‘So.Be.It’ brand platform is an optimistic take on some of those little food adventures we know become core memories.” — Erika DeHaas, VP corporate marketing, Sobeys

Chris Powell