Sobeys bets big on growing Scene+

The first campaign promoting the loyalty program's expansion outside entertainment is also the grocer's largest marketing effort to date.


Scene+ is going big with its first campaign since grocery giant Empire bought a stake in the loyalty program – and it’s showing off a new expansion into the company’s various stores that will be rolling out across the country into 2023.

Not only is it a significant moment for the new program, it’s also the company’s biggest marketing effort to date, even surpassing Sobeys’ Olympic campaign last year, according to Sandra Sanderson, SVP of marketing for Empire. She says the company is betting so big on the program because it sees it as “a huge milestone in our loyalty and customer experience journey.”

“We envisioned from the very beginning a program that would extend across all of our banners, because we wanted to leverage our scale,” she told strategy. “We wanted one program that would leverage all of our scale while connecting with customers in a much more personalized way, because they tell us they want breadth, to be able to earn points easily at many different places.”

Other than Sobeys, other Empire grocery chains participating in the program include IGA, FreshCo, Safeway, Foodland, Les Marchés Tradition and Rachelle Béry, as well as the Voila grocery delivery service and Empire-owned liquor stores in Western Canada.

The new Scene+ has already rolled out in Empire’s Atlantic Canada banners, and will be entering Western Canadian markets – B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba – on September 22. Additional regional launches will continue across the country for the remainder of 2022 and into early 2023. Not only will it leverage Empire’s stores, but also fellow Scene+ partners Scotiabank, Cineplex and Recipe Unlimited, creating one of the richest and most valuable datasets in the country, Sanderson says – which will enable even further personalization.

Empire Company Limited-Empire Company Limited celebrates the lauThe campaign is a full-funnel, 360-degree effort that is rolling out across many different channels, with a 60-second hero TVC spot as well as cinema, OOH, radio, online, social, OLV, digital display, email and “literally all other touchpoints we can take advantage of,” says Navin Singh, VP of marketing for Scene+, including influencer support and national and local media relations campaigns.

“Our heritage and what we are known for is a program rooted in entertainment – movies and dining,” Singh adds. “That’s important to us and will continue to be important to us in the future, but we’ve expanded in the past year in a big and significant way for members.”

“Our strategy is to bring the meaning to the ‘+’ in ‘Scene+.’”

This should come as no surprise. When Scene+ launched late last year, it said at the time that the plan was to expand the program in meaningful ways and offer members more flexibility.

Now, with Empire as a co-owner and its banners coming into the program, it can do exactly that, with grocery and other Empire stores giving members a more high-frequency occasion to utilize the program.

“To be able to offer that benefit that members can use their Scene card every day of the week, for us as a program, that’s been a game-changer in terms of our expansion,” Singh says. “It’s a key point in this campaign and something we’re really anchoring the message around.”

The campaign was developed by an expansive agency team. Rethink is handling mass creative, PHD is handling mass paid media on the top- and mid-funnel, Bensimon Byrne is on mid-funnel and in-store creative, XMC is handling experiential and UM is on mid- and lower-funnel media support. North Strategic is handling influencers, organic social and Empire’s PR, while Rethink is handling PR for Scene+.