Sobeys puts families first for the holidays

The grocery banner continues to focus on the importance of food and family to create separation from its sister brands.


Sobeys is building on its families-first positioning with a new holiday campaign centred around the dining table.

In the national “Let it Snow” campaign, a brother goes out on a grocery shopping run to recreate a snowman indoors using food, due to uncooperative weather.

“Family and food are at the heart of everything we do,” says Sobeys’ Guylaine Lessard, VP of brand strategy and planning. “We know that food becomes central to creating joy around the holidays and our campaign celebrates moments that bring families closer together.”

Lessard says that SVP of marketing Sandra Sanderson, who joined the brand from Walmart last December, wanted to make sure that “sharp edges” are created between the company’s large portfolio of brands, which also includes IGA, FreshCo, Foodland and Safeway. Its insights showed that family bonding and “Canada’s family grocery store” messaging was an important element to bring to the fore, as Sobeys is the only national, non-discount banner in the portfolio.

The target, Lessard says, is “high end and busy budget families” from coast to coast. She says the video specifically highlights a sibling bond and giving gifts, to go beyond typical spots that tend to feature parents shopping for a family. The goal, she says, was to build strong emotional connections but also to connect to something Canadians could relate to: the idea of a Christmas that’s potentially bereft of snow.

“Let it Snow” ties into the brand’s “Gone Fishing” family bonding approach, but also via Canadian singer/songwriter Serena Ryder, who recorded a Fleetwood Mac cover for the summer campaign. For this holiday effort, Ryder adapted the lyrics of her own song “Calling to Say” to align with the spot, and Lessard says her unique voice and instrumentation adds a strong emotional element to the campaign.

Running nationally until December 26, “Let it Snow” features 30- and 60-second spots in conventional TV programs, specialty stations and connected TV. The 30-second spot will also run during previews in Cineplex theatres, a great place for family get-togethers over the holidays, according to Lessard.

The fully integrated campaign will include in-store POS and decor, which reinforce key family products and categories. There is also digital and social media to support, an associated website with holiday inspiration and tips, and email and flyer integration. Ryder’s new recording of “Calling to Say” is also available on Spotify.

Gravity began work on the creative elements before handing it off to BBDO, which took over Sobey’s creative duties on Oct. 1. The work was done in partnership with UMmedia and with the Sobeys brand strategy, creative services and media team. North Strategic did PR and XMC, experiential.