Shoppers returns to image strategy

When it comes to image advertising at Shoppers Drug Mart, the days of a wisecracking Bea Arthur or that cute spokescouple from L.A. Law are long gone. This week, television audiences across the country will see a side to the pharmaceutical...

When it comes to image advertising at Shoppers Drug Mart, the days of a wisecracking Bea Arthur or that cute spokescouple from L.A. Law are long gone. This week, television audiences across the country will see a side to the pharmaceutical giant that’s a lot more flight-of-fancy than in-your-face.

Shoppers’ ad agency Toronto-based TBWA/Chiat/Day has created a series of existential vignettes designed to reposition the retailer as market leader in its customers’ overall health and well-being.

Highlighting various life cycle stages, Shoppers is steering away from its strategy of the last six years, wherein the focus has been on its cosmetics, Health Watch, Optimum and Life Brand products.

In its ‘Take Care of Yourself’ campaign debut, Shoppers Drug Mart asks consumers to imagine the impossible: a place where wounds from shaving heal themselves instantly and bad hair days don’t exist.

In one 15-second spot, a toddler sits on a toilet reading a copy of ‘Business 3000,’ apparently having bypassed the potty stage. In another, a gracefully aged woman blows out the candles on her birthday cake that reads, ‘Happy 150th.’ Or, try this unlikely situation: A beautiful couple rises out of bed fully dressed and accessorized.

The copy is always the same: ‘Until then, there’s Shoppers Drug Mart,’ and is followed by the new tagline, ‘Take care of yourself.’

‘We want you to take care of yourself. That’s basically the strategy,’ says Neil Everett, SVP, marketing and communications for Shoppers Drug Mart. ‘Obviously, everybody wants Utopia, but unfortunately for us, it will never happen.What we’re trying to demonstrate is we understand what you would love to be able to do. We also understand that it’s not feasible today. But what we are positioned to do is to help provide you with the products and the services to get the most out of your life.’

In the increasingly competitive pharmaceutical industry where big-box shops like Zellers, Wal-Mart, Costco and Loblaws have all jumped on the health and personal care bandwagon, Shoppers felt it was time ‘after being away for a few years,’ to reintroduce consumers to its master brand. According to Everett, the last time the Toronto-based drug chain ran a full-fledged image campaign was in 1993.

The new campaign launched May 14 in English Canada and includes a 60-second spot and a series of five, 15-second ads running on TV, in-flight and in cinemas. The ads will run in heavy rotation for six weeks with a longer-term duration through the end of the year.

In Quebec, a differently executed, 30-second TV spot and billboard campaign launched for a four-week duration followed by a long term campaign run throughout the year. (The Quebec ads were created by Montreal agency PNMD Communication (now BBDO Montreal) under the direction of president and creative director Martin Beauvais.)

Additionally, the newly trademarked tagline, which replaces the long-running, ‘Everything You Want in a Drugstore,’ will trickle right down into the store itself, where prescription bottles, receipts, bags and flyers will all include the new tag. According to Everett, even store clerks and cashiers have been trained to replace, ‘Have a nice day,’ with ‘Take Care of Yourself.’

‘That’s a big part of the story,’ echoes TBWA/Chiat/-Day’s Pat Pirisi, the agency’s co-creative director. ‘This is one of those cases where the advertising actually leads the way the organization moves forward. The thinking that we put into it strategically has really influenced the way Shoppers Drug Mart is going to behave operationally.’

The new positioning has been in the works for quite some time. Round table discussions with the Shoppers’ marketing team a year ago addressed the competitive atmosphere of the healthcare industry and the need to reach beyond mere price point to remind customers of its superior offerings.

‘You never know who else is going to crop up,’ Pirisi says, adding the key strategic question was, ‘How do you stake a territory and consistently own it over time to stave off competition?’

After defining the basic strategic premise, Shoppers conducted extensive qualitative and quantitative research using Toronto-based Michael Gadd Research. According to Pirisi, it all boiled down to the consumer wanting to ‘Feel Good.’ Hence the notion of well-being: ‘That’s an immutable value that we can own and people will respond to for eternity,’ he says.

Pirisi and Everett also attest the research yielded the highest score out of some 800 previous spots Gadd Research had ever introduced to a panel of participants. Canadian audiences can expect to see the ‘Take care of yourself’ tagline on all future Shoppers Drug Mart ads even filtering into the arena of its sub brands advertising.


Client: Shoppers Drug Mart

Agency: TBWA/Chiat/Day

Co-Creative Directors: Pat Pirisi; Benjamin Vendramin

Art Director: Benjamin Vendramin

Group Account Director: Elizabeth Jackson

Director of Client Services: Richard Fisher

Media: Television, in-flight, cinema