Loblaw’s No Name: Discount brand or national?

Loblaw Companies wants consumers looking to save coin on groceries to think yellow and consider its private No Name label a value alternative to national brand competitors.

Loblaw Companies wants consumers looking to save coin on groceries to think yellow and consider its private No Name label a value alternative to national brand competitors.

Television ads, created by Toronto-based Bensimon Byrne and featuring company exec chair Galen Weston Jr., take a not-so-subtle approach, as Weston compares the cost of a shopping cart full of No Name goods to another packed with national brands.

The No Name line has been given a more prominent placement on store shelves and the company has reverted to the brand’s hallmark black-on-yellow packaging – a look used in other TV spots with only type. ‘What we’re trying to do is really show value relative to well-known brands that the consumer knows and understands,’ explains Ian Gordon, SVP of grocery at Loblaw Companies.

The campaign also includes flyer activity and proud display of the No Name colours on all Loblaw’s banner websites. Gordon adds that Loblaw is drawing attention to the notion that it provides consumers with all the choices they need for one-stop-shopping. ‘It’s really about showing the consumer the breadth of offering that you can get within our banners,’ he says.

The timing couldn’t be better, as shoppers are seeking out savings wherever they can. We asked retail and CPG strategy wizards John Torella, senior partner at J.C. Williams Group, and Jill Nykoliation, president of Juniper Park, to give us the lowdown on how Loblaw’s value-vaulting strategy resonates.


Torella: It’s fundamentally sound and provides a compelling competitive advantage and true point of difference for Loblaw and in particular its No-Frills retail banner.

Nykoliation: The No Name campaign is half good. From a brand positioning standpoint, it’s spot on. Black Helvetica font on yellow tells me I’m paying for nothing beyond what’s in the can. The ‘No Name TV spot’ echoes this bare-bones approach. Its shortfall is the way it’s communicated. The Loblaws and President’s Choice brands have spent years telling us we should expect an elevated experience from them. They’re now telling us the opposite.


Torella: The brand strategy is well supported by the market/communication elements. The TV featuring Galen Weston Jr. builds not just fast awareness, but also an understanding and acceptance of the dominant savings idea. Flyers provide wide reach, price and item emphasis, in-store posters give a simple and clear communication of the ‘shopping basket’ savings and prominent support at the dept./fixture level and new packaging provides real impact at point of sale.

Nykoliation: When delivered in the ‘Galen Weston/President’s Choice’ voice [comparison commercial], they convincingly illustrate the premium paid for their elevated experience is bad judgment. This approach is hypocritical and damaging. In contrast, the execution told in the ‘No Name voice’ [type-only commercials] is far more effective, more disruptive, but not damaging to the parent brand.


Torella: As a leader in the food/grocery category, Loblaw can afford to do both. Bottom line: they must establish an overall superior shopping/buying experience.

Nykoliation: Loblaw is promoting the value category. Given its purely functional nature, No Name is an undifferentiated discount brand. Are Loblaws’ No Name carrots really any better than another retailer’s discount carrots? Really? In contrast, H&M is branded value experience because they make it exclusive. The headline for the consumer is value, while designers such as Stella McCartney, Madonna and Karl Lagerfeld create cachet and protection from competition.


Torella: It is critical to the long-term success of Loblaw that a balance in delivery savings and in-store experience messaging be maintained. In the short term, priority can be on No Name savings, but over the long term, the overall value preposition must be maintained.

Nykoliation: Loblaw cannot use their ‘Galen Weston/President’s Choice’ campaign to talk the virtue of No Name. They have blurred their experience brand with their discount brand. These brands couldn’t be more opposite. And herein lies the flaw in this strategy. Ask yourself, ‘which cart does the President’s Choice brand sit in?’ and the flaw shows itself.

The creds:

Loblaw Companies

Ian Gordon, SVP grocery

Ad agency – Bensimon Byrne

Peter Byrne, CD/writer; Peter Byrne, Kathy Byrne, Wayne Fenske, directors; Kathy Byrne, producer; Chris Holmes, DOP; The Studio Upstairs, editing house