Loblaws shows how food lovers have adapted to the pandemic

The grocer's latest "Food Lovers Unite" campaign uses the platform's core insight to bring joy back to the tedium of lockdowns.


Loblaws’ latest campaign is trying to keep people’s excitement about quality food up by showing people can still be food lovers even if their penchant for kitchen experimentation has waned during the last year.

Devised by agency John St., it’s the latest iteration of the banner’s “Food Lovers Unite” masterbrand platform, and features a 30-second national TV spot, a longer 60-second cut for YouTube and social, as well as 15-second cut-downs, promoting the Loblaw’s, Zehrs and Independent banners in the company’s Market division.

Like previous efforts, the campaign is based around the insight that “there’s no wrong way to eat.” Wes Brown, VP, brand management, retail, Loblaw, tells strategy that when “Food Lovers Unite” launched in 2019, it was based around more of a “love it or hate it” message, accepting different ways to eat things, like scraping unwanted ingredients to the side or even something polarizing like putting ketchup on a steak.

Now, the campaign vignettes are more focused on individuals and households experiencing the drag that is pandemic lockdowns, but showing them enjoying what they’re eating, be it quick-and-easy meals, elaborate feasts, or a pre-packaged fruit cup snack in the bath. It also briefly references the PC Optimum program and showcases the different touchpoints of brick and mortar, ecommerce and delivery.

“Food Lovers Unite” was created with the purpose of being more overt about telling the grocer’s brand story around quality food and experiences, Brown says. But Canadians’ relationship with food, specifically how they prepare it, has changed over the last year.

In August, mid-pandemic, the brand built off this insight when it launched “If You’re Cooking, You’re A Cook,” also created by John St., telling a story through a child’s POV about a parent learning to be a better cook during lockdown, and the hits and misses along the way, capitalizing on booming interest in trying new things in the kitchen.

But as the pandemic has gone on, many Canadians have grown fatigued of constant meal planning and cooking, and Brown says the company wants to give people hope and optimism and to cheer them on in the kitchen. So, the latest iteration aims to bring some joy back to whatever meal someone might be having by getting back to the ideas the platform was built on: if you’re a food lover, regardless of how that’s manifested, you can find what you need at Loblaw, Brown says.

“We call it ‘Food Lovers Unite’, and we mean it, as we are the place where quality food and quality food experiences come together,” Brown says. “We like to think our stores and our brands, really reflect that.”

The brand, he says, typically activates in Spring to get people excited about the upcoming growing season, and big occasions that comprise high holidays, Easter and the lead-up to outdoor grilling.

The latest campaign speaks directly to the household primary shopper and what it calls “makers and bakers.” It wants to reach out to passionate eaters, those who might not help out directly in the kitchen, but enjoys food and contributes to its production in other ways.

Brown says the spend for Loblaws’ campaigns is adjusted appropriately to get the right reach and frequency throughout the course of the campaign. “We are getting smarter about when and where to reach our customers,” he says. Loblaw Media and Dentsu handled media for the campaign, and Brown adds that its internal agency led the way with the external agencies, as it was important for the internal shop to be just as much in the driver’s seat.

The production company was Untitled Films. Saints and the Vanity helped out on the editing front, while Grayson handled sound and music.