Sobeys turns the family spirit of the holidays into a reason to give back

With most Canadians unable to have the same gatherings this year, the grocer is encouraging them to extend their generosity to others.

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The holidays are always a time for family, but in a year when the ways Canadians connect with their families is going to look very different, Sobeys is encouraging its customers to send some of the generosity they would have provided during a regular holiday gathering to other families that could use a boost.

“The Greatest Gift Is Family” is the theme of a 30-second TV spot, showing a mother and daughter brings bags of groceries out of a Sobeys, but instead of bringing them home to prepare their own holiday meal, they are dropping them off to another family in need.

“Our DNA is family, our brand is rooted in family,” says Mary Cochrane, director of full service marketing at Sobeys, adding that the family-focused season is always a great opportunity to connect on that live. But this year’s concept – which began development in late March, just after lockdown measures and social distancing were first implemented across Canada – has extra resonance this year, because of the ways families have been lifting others up when they are down. The spot ends will an extra call for customers to donate to families in need this holiday season through the month of December.

“We knew that Christmas was going to be different this year,” Cochrane says. “We also knew it’s going to be a few less people around the table, fewer get togethers and opportunities to see the ones we love,” and while that may be a disappointing prospect for many, the company believes there will also be more compassion and giving and a chance to show that side.

sobeys-family campaign2But Sobeys will also be doing its part to make loved ones feel like they are connected this year. There will be festive GIFs on Instagram beginning Dec. 1, which can be used to nominate friends or family members who are the greatest at things like holiday baking or building gingerbread houses, for a chance to win Sobeys gift cards.

Sobeys has also partnered with digital wallet app UGO to create digital, holiday themed cards with thoughtful sentiments that customers can purchase online, with each one coming with an opportunity to donate $2 to support Community Food Centres Canada.

Cochrane points out that these initiatives all tie back to a passion for food, be it a gift card that can facilitate holiday baking or giving the gift of food for those in need.

To round out the campaign, Sobeys is supporting key holiday products in flyers, display ads and videos on social and digital channels, as well as through its MyOffers personalized deal platform and Eflyer email communication system. Festive in-store signage and décor calls out the importance of family connections.

“For anyone walking through our store, we wanted them to feel like the brand is celebrating the holidays with them,” Cochrane says, even as foot traffic is potentially lower.

The product-focused side of the campaign will be especially focused on private label offerings from its Panache and Compliments brands that will be particularly relevant to the season, a key investment for the grocery banner of late. The latest insights from EY Canada suggest private labels could get a big boost this holiday season, as the top consumer consideration for purchase is still price.

The spend, Cochrane says, is not significantly different from last year’s holiday campaign. BBDO did creative and strategy, UM handled media, SJC did point-of-sale and North Strategic handled PR and influencer relations.

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