Thoughts, Insights and Inspiration

Real Stories Over Conventional Food Ads

Remember the time when food advertisements on TV, particularly supermarket ads, followed a common theme of featuring a B-list celebrity or a washed-up TV personality promoting the brand’s products? This was all done in an effort to engage with us, the audience. It got to the point where the supermarket giants were competing with each other to try and draw in a more popular or famous figure in a bid to outdo one another. There is no denying these conventional partnerships worked well to an extent and they achieved their purpose of increasing brand awareness and driving sales, but times have changed and brands seem to have moved on.

Food ads, in particular, the supermarket giants’ ads, are now increasingly centred around real people and real families who have ‘real stories’. Whether these people are paid actors or genuine is another discussion but the sentiment still remains. There is no denying these campaigns carry a real purpose and a message which goes further in engaging its audience much more effectively.

The food industry is not alone in this trend. In a previous article, we highlighted how authenticity and the use of ‘real stories’ is key within the travel industry. The same applies to the food industry and how brands now choose to market themselves and their products.

If you have been paying attention to your screen and social media, then you would’ve noticed this change in the style of big supermarket ad campaigns. You can almost trace the trend back to circa 2014 where Christmas advertisements for big brands were often so good that they started going viral, a trend which continues to this day. People were going out of their way to actually find an ad and watch it themselves. All of these famous Christmas ads have one underlying thing in common: they depict a ‘real story’ with a real message.

Let’s start with Sainsbury’s 2014 Christmas Ad. The ad, set in the trenches of the Great War in the year 1914. Based on the famous story of British and German troops agreeing to a ceasefire on Christmas Day, which eventually ended up with both sides climbing out of their trenches and playing a game of football and exchanging gifts with one another, until eventually climbing back into their trenches to continue firing at each other the very next day. The ad is particularly focused on two young men on opposing sides who make a connection and end up giving each other a small, but meaningful gift in those bleak times. Amassing almost 20 million views on YouTube it is fair to see the ad was spectacularly received across the world. The message of ‘Christmas is for sharing’ really hit home to everybody viewing. A truly amazing story backed up by a fitting ad.

Now, moving on to more recent times, Tesco has very recently launched ‘Food love stories’ campaign. As the name suggests these series of short ads depict love stories that demonstrate Tesco’s understanding of how much of an impact food has on our daily lives and our relationships. In an interview with Marketing Week, Michelle McEttrick, group brand director at Tesco, said…

“We’ve always taken great pride in the quality of our food and we know how good food brings people and families together. So this January, we’re launching ‘Food Love Stories brought to you by Tesco’, a campaign that puts food at the very heart of our business and tells the stories behind the meals we all make for those closest to us.”

In the first video release, we meet David, who has been married to a spicy food loving wife for 15 years. All this time he secretly doesn’t like the spicy food they so often eat, so adds in yoghurt to his curry to suit his taste buds when his wife isn’t looking. It is this very simple but humorous story that people can relate to more. A connection is more likely to be made which results in a more engaged audience. It seems Tesco has realised this is now the way it should talk about its products by taking a step towards offering ‘real stories’ over the conventional, traditional partnerships.

Iceland, whose ads we got so used to being associated with the likes of Kerry Katona, Peter Andre and Jason Donovan, that were no doubt successful at first but the more they dragged on the more they lost their draw and appeal. The frozen food brand has since ditched the celebrities and gone for the ‘real story’ effect. Launching it’sThis is the moment’ campaign, we meet three normal families who all receive a mystery Iceland home delivery. Despite their initial apprehensiveness and skepticism about Iceland’s products, which the brand has acknowledged real people do have, all the families are bowled over by Iceland’s products and service and are converted into self-proclaimed lovers of the supermarket.

Along with its supermarket competitors, Iceland has realised it’s now not about the famous face to market your brand. The way forward is ‘real stories’ because consumers now crave authenticity, in a growing superficial world filled with doubts on products at every corner.

All in all, pretty much every supermarket on the high street has now incorporated ‘real stories’ into their marketing campaigns to get their message across and capture the ever-declining attention spans of consumers. There is no doubting these campaigns have contributed in taking food marketing and food advertising to the next level and we will see many other industries follow suit in the time to come.

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