Circle K aims to connect beyond convenience

The retail chain is trying to drive awareness for its young brand by emphasizing how its selection can help during key moments.

CIRCLE_BBQCircle K is hoping to be more than just a convenience retailer, emphasizing products that are there when they’re needed most.

With its latest multi-touchpoint effort, Circle K is highlighting the tagline, “whenever, wherever, whatever,” in five new digital spots, which will air for TV broadcast in October. In four of these, the brand shows different scenarios where users might run out of a favorite CPG commodity and for the fifth, a Canada Day ad, has fun with Canadians’ propensity for apologies.

“We’re differentiating our marketing message by emphasizing the on-the-go occasion when anxieties are on the rise,” according to Circle K brand manager Brian Rohaly. Rohaly concedes that while convenience is more valued than ever, it’s difficult to break through and stand out on that concept alone. As a result, the brand is hoping to build an emotional connection by choosing to emphasize moments where life can be unpredictable and showing that there’s always a Circle K nearby (and doing so in a humorous way).

The approach is similar to how Couche-Tard (the company’s convenience banner in Quebec) focused on community rather than its every-corner ubiquity with its latest campaign. But while Couche-Tard has brand awareness, Circle K has been establishing itself since it transitioned away from the Mac’s branding in 2016.

Rohaly says part of the brand’s approach to driving affinity is by making the in-store experience different, working with cross-functional merchandising operations and construction teams to bring Circle K to life through displays, signage and point-of-purchase.

“Being new to Canada, growing brand awareness has been critical,” Rohaly says, adding that Circle K is making an effort to increase its owned content and growing its social media.

Rohaly says while it’s a convenience retailer (all about being “everywhere with anything”) its focus is a sub-niche: the on-the-go occasion shopper targeted in its ads. In Ontario, he says, the brand is particularly focused on two segments backed by consumer insights: working people and families on the go, because they shop the brand at an above-average frequency and have a high propensity to snack and are time-starved (posters feature snack-friendly brands like Jolly Rancher, Skittles and also Circle K’s own premium coffee line).

The campaign, including TV, pre-roll, digital, social media, and on premise materials was designed by Giants & Gentlemen. Media planning was done by Media Experts, and community management by SIX12. It runs through 2020.