What No Frills Did Right
How a discount brand food store found cultural relevance.
Thrilling. Diverse. Jaw-dropping. Sexy. These adjectives best describe the 2018 No Frills Super Bowl ad that borrowed extensively from popular music videos and even superhero movies to make a statement. The 30-second spot opens up with a shot that mirrors Queen Bey’s “Formation” music video (at 2:15).
And make a statement it did.
The commercial wowed watchers by coining the word “hauler” and packaging it into a vibrant, cinematic experience featuring what appeared to be everyday shoppers performing superhuman stunts shot to mimic music video format.
“We bundled up all the pride of a getting a great deal, gave it a name. This is how it feels to be a hauler. The No Frills shopper is mindset, not a demographic,” said Cher Campbell, creative director at John St and the campaign.
The budget grocery chain went even farther with the campaign by dropping merch that managed to stay true to its brand with the No Frills hazard-yellow, and at the same time, actually look cool. The line consisted of long-sleeved tees, t-shirts, and hoodies. The Hauler campaign went even further by hinting at an upcoming Haulers concert tour. At the time of writing, everything at the Haulershop merch site was sold out.
The message resonated with audiences because the idea of taking pride in being a “hauler” acknowledges the company’s financially conscious customers. This spoke to many generations, particularly Gen Z, who, having been shaped by the recession, are pragmatic about how they spend their money.
The cross-platform nature of the campaign allows it to capture the easily distracted attentions of the generations it targeted, too. All in all, the campaign managed to cover platforms in all corners, from TV, cinema, out-of-home advertising, merchandise, and social media engagement.
Ownable ideas can come from everyday experiences
The resonance of the No Frills Hauler campaign demonstrates that a brand built on something that seems as mundane as grocery shopping can carve out a lasting image for itself. It’s just a matter of connecting the brand image with what’s important to a particular generation -- in this case, frugality.
Associating your brand with an idea helps distinguish it from others. Kind of like how Ben & Jerry’s owned the idea of ‘Pen Your Pride’ when they partnered with Wattpad on a write-a-thon during Pride month. The community was encouraged to tag their story with #WattPride, and the brand became associated with the 17,000+ stories that used this hashtag. Learn more about the campaign by downloading the case study.
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