Cowardly …

Cowardly …

If you live in the South, you may be familiar with the Food Lion supermarket chain. Food Lion is the kind of supermarket you go to because … well, because it’s the closest, I guess? Well, as many re-marketers do from time to time, seems the folks at Food Lion decided they needed a brand of their own … so that people would know why Food Lion was the place to get your Velveeta instead of say, Kroger.

I’m sorry, I don’t often do this, because clients sometimes ask for bad creative and agencies usually try their best to do good work but I have to rant about this one.

Imagine, if you will, the ideation that went on a what I’ll assume is known as Super Creative Agency. The brain trust gets together, rolls up their collective sleeves, digs deep into the idea well and comes up with … a Lion. Even better, a talking Lion. Even better a sagacious yet homey Lion … the Benjamin Franklin of anthropomorphic Lions.

Because, really, how ELSE would you communicate the benefits of shopping at Food Lion than to use a talking lion?

I think I might know why they did this. Research.

Seriously misapplied research.

Now I’m just speculating here, but I’m thinking that somebody either commissioned or half-remembered some research that said that “Children influence X billion of food purchases every year.” Anyone whose been shopping with kids knows that your odds of throwing Trix yogurt into your cart increase exponentially the more minutes you spend in the supermarket with your child. That’s gotta be worth a billion right there, right?

So the research-driven marketer thinks …since kids influence so many buying decisions, let’s design a campaign for our chain that’s targeted right at those kids! It doesn’t matter that they can’t drive to the store, or that they may not have a dollar to their name. Let’s get them to bug their parents to go to the “Talking Lion Store”.

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I’m not sure if this campaign is moving the numbers. I do know that every time I see one of the spots, or one of the in-store promos (yes I do drop into Food Lion every now and then. Because it’s closest to my house), it just makes me mad. And sad.

I understand that it is hard to differentiate what is essential a commodity product/service (the supermarket), and that it can be challenging for resellers to figure out what their position and benefit statement should be. But I’m still wondering what, exactly, took the Food Lion people down the jungle path to this campaign. I’d love to see what was rejected along the way.

One final takeaway: Puns are fun. We all love puns. But at the end of the day, they are not persuasive copy.

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