As Stop & Shop strives to improve its performance and boost customer loyalty, the East Coast supermarket chain wants shoppers to connect its brand with affordable prices and appetizing meals by thinking more about food than their grocery budgets.
In a new television commercial airing across its five-state footprint, the retailer weaves fast-paced images of fresh produce, abundant private-label goods and people enthusiastically preparing meals with an energetic voiceover that presents concepts like “savings,” “cravings” and “quality” as an integrated concept.
“A lot of what we [thought] about is how can we be really playful with our language and our transitions, and just have some fun with that, because that's what you want to have when you're cooking and when you're grocery shopping,” said Alex Shulhafer, group creative director at McKinney, the advertising agency that produced the spot and has also done work for companies like ESPN, Samsung and Crocs. “You don't want it to feel like a chore.”
While the 30-second commercial, which launched in late October, takes its cues from the rapid grocery inflation that has battered consumers for months, Stop & Shop opted to appeal primarily to people’s visceral connections with food instead of shining a spotlight on the financial pressures they might be facing, said Lisa Martinelli, vice president of brand experience for the grocer. The Ahold Delhaize-owned banner was particularly interested in portraying its assortment of store-branded items as tickets to satisfying at-home eating, she added.
“Our [store-] brand products offer [benefits] which our customers want and need as they mitigate the impact of inflation,” Martinelli said. “So we were really intentional about bringing those to the forefront and heroing those products across the spot.”
Focusing on the grocery-shopping experience
The commercial, part of Stop & Shop’s ongoing “Feed the Moment” brand campaign, aims to inspire shoppers by casting the grocer’s image through the lens of the shopping experience it offers, according to Shulhafer, whose firm has been working on the marketing program since the grocer launched it in 2021.
To accomplish that, the creative team worked with a director who focuses on food photography to capture the footage used in the spot, which was shot on location in a Stop & Stop store in suburban Boston, Shulhafer said. The commercial blends images of shoppers inspecting lemons, perusing boxes of cereal and selecting ice cream with shots of people preparing and serving meals — including a view of pasta from below that entailed removing the bottom of a pot to make room for the camera.
“You want to see the beauty of food. You want to imagine serving that to your family and enjoying the moments that happen in your life that food is almost always a major part of,” Shulhafer said. “What we wanted to do is show that in all of its beauty and color and invite people to shop with [Stop & Shop] and trust that they're going to get the quality that they want and also the value that they need right now.”
Stop & Shop, which runs about 400 stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, is rolling out the spot as it looks to rejuvenate its business, which has underperformed other Ahold Delhaize banners in the United States, but recently delivered improved results. Stop & Shop is also in the midst of a multi-year effort to renovate its stores.
The commercial calls attention to Stop & Shop’s Deal Lock savings program, an initiative it introduced in August that extends sales on selected national and private label items for multiple weeks and has been delivering “strong early chain-wide results,” Ahold Delhaize President and CEO Frans Muller said last week during the Netherlands-based company’s third-quarter earnings call.
In addition to the 30-second spot, Stop & Shop and McKinney have also produced a pair of 15-second commercials that draw attention to the retailer’s store-branded products. Furthermore, the company is looking to connect with shoppers through the Feed the Moment campaign on social media platforms including Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, and is also experimenting with TikTok, Martinelli said.
Stop & Shop is continuing to run commercials it developed with McKinney earlier in the campaign that highlight other aspects of the grocer’s businesses, like its Guiding Stars nutrition program, but have the same overall look and feel as the latest spots, she said.
“The energy, the colors, the music, the way it comes to life has a very consistent style, which [McKinney] was intentional in doing, and so we have the ability to run different spots throughout the year that all still feel as if they're coming from the same brand strategy,” Martinelli said.
Other food retailers have taken more direct approaches than Stop & Shop to link their marketing messages to consumers’ efforts to deal with rising grocery prices.
For example, Save A Lot introduced video spots during the middle of the year that present images of the chain’s private labels next to shots of comparable national brands, with the words “Tastes Alike. Saves A Lot” front and center. Meal-delivery company Factor75, owned by FelloFresh, also sought to harness people’s worries about inflation in an advertisement in January, MarketWatch reported.