Real Canadian Superstore redefines what makes Canadian cuisine

To make sure everyone is welcomed in its aisles, 123w's first campaign for the grocer wants to ensure Canada's diversity is reflected in the food we eat.

A few dishes and snacks immediately jump to mind when thinking of “Canadian foods,” but with country always finding pride in its diverse and multicultural demographics, Real Canadian Superstore’s new campaign proposes that our national cuisine should be just as welcoming by adding a few new flavours to Nanaimo bars and ketchup chips.

Its latest effort, by new creative partner One Twenty Three West, reveals that Canadians are not only diverse themselves, they also have diverse palettes – and the campaign literally upends expectations of what Canadian food means, at one point pouring a maple syrup bottle upside down. It showcases unique food pairings, like poutine and kimchi, or eating dim sum for breakfast and a baloney sandwich for supper. It show this through a mix of fresh meat and produce, President’s Choice products and brands targeted towards different regional cuisines.

A diverse group of producers and actors were tapped for the production to ensure diversity in front of and behind the camera, and the spots have been made in English, Hindi, Cantonese, Mandarin and Tagalog, with a media buy that includes multicultural and traditional media.

“We’ve been intentional with diversity, inclusion and representation for several years by having a diverse assortment on our shelves, showcasing that assortment in our content, and celebrating multi-cultural occasions with our communities,” says Shelley Tangney senior director of brand marketing for Real Canadian Superstore.

In the last two years Real Canadian Superstore has invested in local community social media. And according to Tangney, all its stores run local Facebook pages and engage with customers in ways that are relevant to them.

“This new brand campaign is simply an extension of the work our store colleagues do, and connections they make, every day,” she says. “We are definitely intentionally ensuring that everyone is invited, included, represented and celebrated.”

Real Canadian Superstore’s previous mass marketing efforts were based around its “Shop Like A Mother” platform, which wasn’t as much targeted to moms as it to anyone who went the extra mile to find the most savings possible for their household. Similar to Loblaw sister banner No Frills, it was an effort to bring pride to discount shopping, with more of a focus on families and “shopping the way you want” to reflect the slightly different makeup of its customer base.

But, according to Tangney, when the grocer paused its marketing at the beginning of the pandemic, it took the opportunity to stop, listen and understand what Canadians and customers really wanted and needed before turning all of its marketing back on. The new campaign shifts more towards the “shopping how you want” side of Superstore’s messaging. That is not just because the grocer’s assortment can back up a promise of enabling whatever varied food combinations a customer wants to try, but to make sure people feel welcomed by not having to compromise on what they might buy to make whatever dish is important to them.

“Emotionally connecting with colleagues and customers has always been in our brand purpose and promise – but now, more than ever before, it’s the driving conviction,” she adds.

The grocer began working with 123W in the fall to evolve its brand strategy and plan, and now works with the agency on its design systems, brand campaigns and “connecting daily with customers.”

Tangney tells strategy its campaigns always include broadcast in its annual media plans, but with such a big network of stores across Ontario and the West, it’s important to be in market across all channels.

In Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ontario, the campaign also features an OOH takeover that showcases 10 real Canadians and the wide variety of products in their carts. It also features user-generated content, working with Citizen PR, asking Canadians to share their summer “must have” items from Real Canadian Superstore, running until Aug. 6.

This campaign represents its most integrated investment across more channels than ever before, Tangney says. In early 2020, the brand shifted from print to a fully digital flyer, optimizing marketing costs that it has now reinvested in “harder working creative and customer-centric media.”