2018 Winner

No Frills

Get The Frill Out of Your Bill

john st.

SilverTurnaround Strategy

In 1978, No Frills essentially invented Canadian discount grocery. Their strategy was simple: seriously low prices. And for decades, they owned the segment. But heavy discounting from competitors like Walmart chipped away at market share and crowded the “low prices” arena. Simultaneously, brands like IKEA and Dollar Shave Club increased average consumer expectations on value for money. As a result, No Frills started to see weakening brand health perceptions, particularly on food quality.

The brand needed to go beyond “low prices” and find a compelling way to improve quality perceptions, bring people back into the brand, and turn the business around. In the post-recession information age, smart is the new sexy - everyone’s constantly looking for new ways they can “beat the system” with their spending, from trading on Bunz, to earning points on Drop, to couponing with Checkout. In fact, research has shown that today’s consumers like being cheap, provided that they’re not sacrificing on quality. Price savviness is now seen as a badge of honour rather than a mark of embarrassment. The key to changing quality perceptions was to make people feel smart for shopping at No Frills, rather than cheap.

No Frills is called “No Frills” for a reason: they don’t have any frills in their stores. No marble countertop cheese displays. No Italian lighting. No faux butcher shops. Those frills are why the prices at Longo’s and Whole Foods are so inflated. But strangely, most Canadians didn’t make a strong connection between the name “No Frills” and it’s shopping experience. It isn’t just a name, it reflects a mission to strip every last unnecessary frill out of the business to help their customers afford great food. That’s how “Get The Frill Out Of Your Bill” was born.

The multi-platform campaign spanned across social, TV, digital video, out-of-home, radio, and in-store. To bring meaning back to the word “frill”, the team took a funny yet pointed crack at the frills found in fancy grocery stores, drawing a clear link between the drastically different No Frills store experience and its drastically lower prices. The campaign launched with “Jazz Trio”, a video where a jazz singer explains that “it’s not just the apples that you’re paying for, it’s all the other frilly stuff in the store”. It was followed by “Charcuterie”, where a butcher points out the higher price that a fancy name commands, and “Aisles”, which called out needlessly boutique store formats.

Simple text-based pre-roll extended the campaign with statements like “We want your money. Just less of it.” A social playbook helped guide the in-house social team to build engagement through a swaggering, direct brand tone in posts like “Overpriced salami is bologna”. Radio and Spotify ads followed the same vein – poking fun at grocery stores that hire DJs and dare to call potato salad “artisanal”. A mobile OOH truck attended events like Toronto Ribfest with relevant headlines like “We know a thing or two about bare bones.” Wild postings near No Frills locations pointed out “Frills are for underpants, not grocery stores” and “Paying too much for bananas is bananas.”

The campaign drove solid business metrics and achieved all performance and brand targets. The campaign performed 6x better than Facebook’s benchmark, digital click-through rates were almost 3x the average at 1.43%, and social engagement increased by 91% over the previous quarter. The initiative has completely changed how No Frills approaches communications, shifting away from purely price-driven messaging and towards rallying a loyal following around the idea that price savviness is a badge of honour. From exhibiting a straightforward and swaggering brand tone, to funding grittier and more grassroots activations, to a bigger investment behind building an engaged social audience, the whole go-to-market approach has changed. And the campaign has been renewed for an even bigger and more audacious round of work for 2018.

Additionally, the most important audience, No Frills’ franchisees, have embraced the campaign’s philosophy wholeheartedly as their own – so much so that “Get The Frill Out Of Your Bill” now appears on all No Frills grocery bags.

Agency Credits:

Creative Agency: john st.
Executive Creative Director: Stephen Jurisic, Angus Tucker
Creative Director: Cher Campbell
Associate Creative Director: Sanya Grujicic
Associate Creative Director: Simon Au
Copywriters: Sanya Grujicic, Stephie Coplan, Andrew Payne
Art Directors: Simon Au, Andrew Bernardi
Producer: Sharon Langlotz
Strategy: Jennifer Munoz
Team Lead: Ryan O’Hagan
Account Director: Leah Lanza
Account Executive: Elana Duncan

Production Credits:

Production Company: OPC
Director: Nicolas Monette
Director of Photography: Nicolas Bolduc
Executive Producer: Harland Weiss, Donovan M. Boden, Isil Gilderdale
Line Producer: Marc Swenker
Casting: Mann Casting
Editing: Saints Editorial
Editor: Melanie Hider
Executive Producer: Tory Osler
Producer: Sara Windrim
Colourist: Alter Ego
Colourist: Wade Odlum
VFX/Online: The Vanity
Online Artist: Sean Cochrane

For submission inquiries, please contact Clare O'Brien at cobrien@brunico.com.
For partnership inquiries, please contact Neil Ewen at newen@brunico.com.