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Just to show I'm not biased

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

“Creatively, we approached Christmas with the same care and authenticity as Woollies by leaning into the heart of the brand - family, fun and incredible Australian fresh food."

Andrew Hicks, Chief Marketing Officer - Woolworths

As promised yesterday, today I'm having a quick look at Coles competitors - Woolworths and Aldi and their Christmas marketing campaigns. I'll begin With Woolworths because they are the other half of the supermarket duopoly that rules in Australia. Aldi is an increasingly large competitor and so I shall be looking at them too, but IGA is a distant third.


As all you Australians know the Woolworths brand is 'The Fresh Food People' and their video campaign ad is very definitely focussed on mangoes - well typical Australian and a Christmas thing - it's their season. If I could only get myself to go to the Queen Vic Market I could probably pick up a tray for a relative song.


Incidentally, as an aside, if you have read yesterday's post already, I checked it for something and found that the Coles video was missing. I have reinserted it, but wonder whether there is a reason it wasn't there other than me being stupid and somehow leaving it out. Is it forbidden to have video ads in blogs? Possibly. Although you would have thought that they would want as many people to see it as possible and if it's on YouTube then surely there is no copyright. So it was probably me.


Anyway the Woolworths video - see below - begins in a family home where the Christmas meal is coming together, when the mother picks up a mango, smells it and is transported back to her childhood on a mango orchard and the Christmases she enjoyed there. Then we return to the present where her own children enjoy the same mangoes.


"It's a simple story of the little things, family rituals and treasured memories, that make Christmas special. All with a contemporary Aussie soundtrack by the brilliant Great Gable.” M&C Saatchi

It's all soft focussed and warm, but surprisingly there is not a lot of focus on food. Lots of crackers and Christmas trees and people laughing and smiling. Like Coles there is a ham brought ceremoniously to the table, and a glimpse of a laden table but the focus is definitely on the mango. Multicultural? Well yes, there are a couple of Asian looking characters, maybe her dad looks European? There are also a couple of ladies who could be ethnically different - all of which is really good when I think about it because it's not glaringly obvious and in your face - as in the Coles ad too. There is even a small boy who may, or may not, be disabled? Which is as it should be in the world is it not? We shouldn't actually be focussed on ethnicity, sex, disability ... People are just people after all.


“We have anchored our lead creative for the campaign in the nostalgia created by memories of childhood and Christmas celebrations. Whether it’s the smell of a warm crackling ham coming out of the oven or fresh Aussie mangos, it’s the little things that bring the spirit of Christmas to life for so many." Andrew Hicks, Chief Marketing Officer - Woolworths

And that theme 'It's the little things" is echoed in the Woolworths Fresh Magazine, whose cover proudly proclaims the same thing.


Plus the nostalgia theme is echoed in the editor's introduction to the magazine:


"As Australians we've all grown up spending these special days outside, enjoying quality time with loved ones over a long festive lunch. The heart of Christmas is the same all over the world: it's the one time of the year we can connect and create memories with those we love most."


Obviously there is a tightly controlled marketing department there. One message in all facets of their publicity with a few key phrases. As to the contents of the magazine, it begins with tradition - all the usual stuff - ham, turkey, pork although now that I think about it I don't think there is Christmas pudding or cake anywhere. But lots of other desserts. And there is one section, which is in some ways similar to Coles, in which three 'ordinary' but multicultural Woolworths staff share their favourite family recipes.


Then we come to Aldi - 'Good, Different' - as they like to say. Definitely different. I mean, have a look:

I actually find this ad rather disturbing and yet all the articles I found about it were saying how much fun it was.

Fun? Grandma falls off the roof, nobody notices and we are left with more prawns and everyone having fun, fun, fun.


Everyone talked about how funny, and absurd it was that there was this polite argument going on about who should have the last prawn, and yes it was funny to begin with, particularly as it got more and more absurd with both parties trying to make the other one take the last one. But it ends with grandma rolling off the roof - to what? There was definitely a long fall - was she dead, or merely shaken, or somewhere in between? Definitely different. But I was left very disturbed. The ad was created by a company called BMF and the only acknowledgement I could find of the end, was when their Creative Director, David Fraser says:


"hopefully ALDI can help families have one less argument this year”.


Honestly to me it's just painfully weird. David has this 'joke' 'The Swedes are like the Germans without a sense of humour'. It's a joke because the Germans are not famous for a sense of humour either. And lots of their ads are like that - Good, Different (and weird) - and their departing Marketing Director is credited with that.


What the real message is apparently is twofold:


"ALDI plays a unique role in helping people Overcook their Christmas, without overcooking their budget." and


“It’s time to spoil them senseless, insist they have thirds and fourths, and never, ever, take full for an answer.”


So yes, their two big points of difference are the 'special offerings' down the middle of the store - you almost always buy something from there - and the price difference. They are supposedly cheaper, and I really mean to investigate that sometime. I've made a couple of starts but it's a bit difficult to find the price of Aldi items online - they don't do ordering online you see.


And in this case the thirds and fourths are prawns - very Australian, but I'm not conscious of Aldi having a lot of prawns in their stores. I mean they do have them, but not in lots of different forms as you can get them in Woolworths or Coles. Very Australian Christmas though. Even we have them - with the gravlax - also not very traditionally Christmassy.


And I've just thought of another common factor in these ads - not a Father Christmas in sight in his winter woollies. It's all sunshine and multicultural families. Well that's what Australia is these days.





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