Sobeys highlights its ties to the community

Giant Adirondack chairs help Atlantic Canadians talk about why their local store is important to their towns.

To celebrate 110 years operating in Canada, Sobeys is using a recognizable sign of summer as a platform for its customers to talk about how important the grocery chain is to their communities.

Almost 100 giant, red Adirondack chairs were crafted by five enterprises that are part of the Ability Wood Products Cooperative, a collective that provides employment opportunities for adults with disabilities. The chairs will be seen at Sobeys locations across Atlantic Canada until August, as well as at other community events and in advertising on social, in its flyers and on traditional media outlets.

Customers who spot the chair are encouraged to take a photo sitting in it and share it on social media with a post explaining why they love their local Sobeys using the hashtag “#ChairShare.” One person will be chosen as the winner of free groceries from Sobeys for a year, and the chairs will eventually be auctioned off to raise money for the workshops that built them.

National Public Relations is leading the campaign.

“That red chair is an iconic symbol of summer,” says Jason Tutty, director of marketing, Sobeys Atlantic. “You see them throughout the coasts and porches and front lawns in Atlantic Canada, so we’re having that symbol represented across our network. Involving social enterprises to manufacture the chairs is just another way to tie it all back to our communities.”

Sobeys was founded in Stellarton, Nova Scotia in 1907, and Tutty says that history has helped to give the retailer a stronger tie to the communities in the region. He says Sobeys has always supported local growers, producers and charities, and that has been heavily highlighted in its local advertising in recent years.

“We’ve really been leading in that regard,” Tutty says. “If you look at nearly any community across Atlantic Canada, there’s a Sobeys store or Foodland, and people there think of it as ‘their’ Sobeys store. We’ve been here since the start, so that feeling is more heightened in Atlantic Canada.”

For the “#ChairShare” campaign, however, the idea was not for the company to talk about the importance of ties, but to hear it from community members themselves as they made their regular visit to “their” Sobeys.

“For us, it was the idea to let customers have fun and post their stories themselves,” Tutty says. “Before the contest was up and running, people were already sitting in the chairs and posting photos of themselves.”