logo for creative campaigns 2021

Top store brand campaigns of 2021

Examples of our Creative Campaigns honorees of 2021 include grocers and specialty retailers with integrated campaigns, video, social, in-store displays and more.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
Dan Ochwat profile picture

As private brands continue to grow in quality and status — becoming equal to or better than the national brand equivalent, as the saying goes — so is their marketing. Retailers are putting out campaigns that are equal to or better than the national brand equivalent.

To honor this notion, Store Brands wanted to shine a light on some of the top-shelf creative campaigns run by retailers in support of their own brands this year. We are introducing our first-ever Creative Campaigns recognition, aiming to be an annual honor of retailers cleverly supporting their store brand products and moving the industry forward with modern-era marketing approaches.

We put out a call for submissions and rounded up some of the most innovative marketing campaigns from retailers. The campaigns leverage all the tools that CPGs are leveraging today, rolling out fully fledged integrated campaigns, tapping into social media influencers, targeting consumers on digital, running video components, and reaching shoppers inside the store through displays and visual merchandising.

Here’s a collection of 2021 Creative Campaigns winners:

Alberstons more than delicious

Albertsons — “More Than Delicious”
An integrated marketing campaign in support of the grocer’s O Organics brand, the “More Than Delicious” program inspired consumers to try the retailer’s organic own brand products by educating them on what organic really means and elevating that perception as seen in delicious meals.

The campaign ran from Aug. 25 through Oct. 6, using in-store displays, email, influencer activations and college influencers, social media and digital ads, an associate engagement contest, a Visa partnership promotion, a satellite media tour and an e-commerce landing page.

Powerful mealtime photos along with direct copy on what the products stand for carried in-store signage, digital posts and more. The campaign also went across the store, looking to expand basket size by focusing on immunity boosting, back to school, and convenient meal themes across categories; ultimately trading up light organic produce buyers to medium/heavy organic produce buyers. The campaign targeted existing and lapsed Albertsons shoppers focused on cooking from scratch, organic living and convenience seekers who purchased O Organics at least once in the past 52 weeks.

Albertsons ad

Albertsons — “Go Explore”
With a verve of adventure, Albertsons’ “Go Explore” campaign enticed trial and built excitement around the Open Nature brand. Aisle blades, freezer clings and shovel signs worked alongside displays in-store, while a loyalty rewards overlay, influencer and college influencer activations, social and digital media ads, a media tour, e-commerce landing page, and more, rounded out the integrated marketing campaign.

The effort ran from June 30 to July 27 and targeted audiences with an affinity to hike, explore and love the outdoors. It was about building a sense of adventure in cooking from scratch and living healthier through its free from brand Open Nature. The campaign garnered more than 87 million impressions and increased its household reach by 13.26% during the campaign period.

Albertsons Soleil

Albertsons — “Sip to the Beat”
One of the more unique activations of the year, Albertsons crafted three Spotify playlists that expressed the Soleil brand’s personality and ushered in summer party music with the likes of Harry Styles and Black Eyed Peas. The music-themed “Sip to the Beat” campaign also included in-store merchandising, special offers on Soleil products for “just for U” members, influencer
activations, Tik Tok dance videos, stop-motion digital content on social, and a partnership with six world renowned artists that relaunched 20 package redesigns and four new flavors.

The campaign exudes the youthful energy of the brand and aims to expand the Signature Select Soleil brand into a wider audience. Albertsons said the campaign was a huge success, driving hundreds of millions of impressions, acquiring new shoppers and building baskets.

Raptor tools ad

Ferguson — “Thankful”
With more than 1,600 locations, specializing in plumbing and HVAC supplies, the chain also has a range of private brand products, including the professional grade Raptor tool line. Ferguson said the tools are a fan favorite and a popular impulse buy from shoppers visiting the stores.

The company wanted to build on that equity and drive a deeper connection with its loyal customers through a campaign that asked customers to vote on the Raptor tool they appreciated most on the job site, with each vote giving the customer a chance at winning a tool bag filled with Raptor tools. It’s a simple premise, but the retailer cleverly drove interaction with the campaign through dynamic social media posts, email blasts and an in-store digital signage element.

The “Thankful” campaign’s content tied into Thanksgiving by running in November, but truly stood out through its bold, beautiful graphics and its motion graphics in digital campaign elements. And the pieces clearly caught eyeballs, as Ferguson witnessed its highest customer interaction that year through the voting component and experienced double-digit sales growth in the three months following the campaign.

Natural Grocers scavenger hunt

Natural Grocers — “Spring Scavenger Hunt”
Sending Natural Grocers shoppers on a hunt for store brands turned out to be a great traffic-driver for the organics retailer and a program that engaged its loyalty members. The May 2021 “Spring Scavenger Hunt” leveraged an ongoing direct email marketing campaign, encouraging shoppers to seek out private brand items across five categories and earn a $5 reward automatically loaded to their [N]power account. Social media also promoted the engagement program, ultimately seeing in one month 220,587 customers shop its five Scavenger Hunt categories.

Natural Grocers products

Natural Grocers — “Family of Natural Grocers Brand Animal Characters”
When looking for the Natural Grocers Brand organic kombucha in stores, just look for “Ophelia the Owl,” an adorable character on each package — that also has its own social media profile and a landing page on the retailer’s website. A QR code on packaging directs shoppers
to learn more about Ophelia, and the character’s used on in-store signage and outdoor billboards. Joining Ophelia are more than 35 other characters and counting, each a calling card to unique items in its Natural Grocers Brand portfolio.

The campaign brilliantly helps shoppers easily spot its own brand products and furthers a connection with them through storytelling and a warm, fun spirit. Other characters include Quigley the Quokka in support of the organic gluten-free pasta varieties; Kara the Koala on gluten-free baking mixes; Bianca the Bear on organic wood-fired pizzas; Enzo the Elephant on bamboo-based paper goods and many more.

Save A Lot — “Like, A Lot A Lot”
Aiming to break out of the “sea of sameness in grocery advertising,” per the Save A Lot team, the retailer’s “Like, A Lot A Lot” campaign certainly does that and more. The cheeky integrated campaign is anchored by a music video and original song titled “Like, A Lot A Lot,” ushering in the company’s brand refresh in a very fresh way.

The song, written by Lauren Rodrigue at VIA, creatively brings the hometown shopping experience of Save A Lot to life with hip-hop, rap and pop stylings. It features vocals artists Tamara Bubble, Leon Evans and Sarai – and can be streamed on platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and more.

From a store brands perspective, the music video has been adapted into 15- and 6-second animated “adlets” that feature Save A Lot private brand products, that were leveraged across a variety of digital and traditional media platforms. An influencer marketing component, including notable Tik Tok and Instagram personalities, created short videos around the campaign and using the song, and outdoor media ran in two key markets: St. Louis and Tampa.

The company said Save A Lot skews older in terms of its shopper base but the campaign brought a younger energy to hometown grocery shopping. The music video garnered more than 2 million views on Facebook and Instagram, and more than 4 million on YouTube. Through 197 individual
influencer posts, Save A Lot received over 50 million paid views and 10 million organic views. Influencer Instagram and Facebook stories resulted in over 15.2 million views, and feed posts on both Instagram and Tik Tok received over 46.7 million views. Paid social ads across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram received over 6.1 million views and over 25.3 million impressions.

Topco Crav'n

Topco — “Crav’n Flavor Everyday”
Following a competitive assessment of the own brand and national brand food space, Topco saw a need to launch a mouth-watering, food-forward campaign for its “Crav’n” portfolio. The company said competitors such as Target’s Good & Gather, Kroger’s Fresh For Everyone claymation characters and even the famed Keebler Elves have created more playful space but not a “craveful” space.

Leaning on sensory photography that gives shoppers a visceral response toward the food, Topco rolled out an overarching Crav’n effort that included a hearty pre-shop and in-home digital media engagement, with e-commerce sites, social media, radio spots and more, as well as major in-store presence via end-caps, aisle blades, shelf talkers, recipe cards, electronic shelf tags, floor graphics, freezer clings and more.

Content on the signage and in the campaign centered on a irresistible photo of food across dessert, snacks, frozen foods and more, and capped with copy that played off the “’n” of the Crav’n name, such as a picture of a slice of cherry pie with the words “Totally Treat’n."

Topco Tippy Toes

Topco — “Tippy Toes Everyday”
Similar to its Crav’n portfolio campaign, Topco launched a broad integrated campaign to support its Tippy Toes baby brand, anchoring digital, in-store and all marketing elements with powerful black and white photography that exudes the joy of parenting, along copy and product images that echo the quality of the product.

Aisle signage, adorable floor clings of baby footprints, headers and a strong educational piece for associates about the brand helped further the brand inside stores. Digital banner ads, social ads and posts, a 15-second digital video, and print ads also supported. Topco said the engaging campaign unquestionably increased own brand sales in the baby care segment with strong repeat purchase intent already underway.

Topco bandaid ad

Topco — “Flesh-Tone Fabric Bandages Launch”
In March, Topco said it became the first store brand to hit the market to provide diverse and inclusive fabric bandages that served a broad range of skin tones. Smartly, the company released an integrated campaign that educated consumers on the importance of a personalized care product like the Topcare flesh-tone bandages.

The campaign included an image of one bandage showcasing a range of shades and calling out to consumers that there are now “options for your beautiful skin.” The image was carried through into an email blast, digital circular assets, Facebook and Pinterest posts, an Instagram story post, banner ads, print ads, a bag stuffer printed piece, and aisle blades and shelf talkers in-store.

Tops ad

Tops Markets — “Food 2 Families/Food for Families”
Annually, Tops Markets drives shoppers to purchase “Little Brown Bags of Hope,” bags that contain Tops Brand products that support its local food banks. The campaign ran Nov. 8, 2020 though Dec. 26, 2020, and will run again Nov. 14 through Dec. 24, this year. To support, Tops developed materials that spanned a print ad, online ads, social media, TV and radio ads, all driving to increase donations.

Additionally, in stores, shelf signage, monitor signs, tear pads and merchandising that consisted of large can creations helped call out attention. Tops has been running this campaign for 17 years, first in Buffalo, N.Y., but it has extended into nine other Tops markets. Separating the 2020 campaign from the rest, Tops set a record by providing 3.25 million meals to local food banks across its goal of 2 million meals — a massive achievement amid COVID-19 challenges. Consumers participate by purchasing brown bags to donate or by donating themselves directly.

Walgreens Certainty

Walgreens — “Do anything with Certainty”
Consumers often avoid conversations around bladder health until the issue arises, and this is especially true among women with bladder incontinence, according to Walgreens shopper insights. The retailer crafted a campaign around its Walgreens Certainty own brand that opened the conversation, knowing whether mild or severe, the emotional part of urinary in-continence can be as limiting as the physical. With “Do anything with Certainty,” the retailer, along with its supplier partner Attindas, developed a 360-degree campaign that aimed to restore consumer confidence around the issue.

The campaign leverages images of women in crucial moments hiking, biking, laughing, dancing and more and not exhibiting any worry about bladder leaks. The brand and campaign is undergoing a refresh with a new look and feel for 2022.

For this effort, in-store signage and components carried the message, along with paid search and programmatic content marketing via Walgreens paid social, Walgreens PR, print, direct mail and targeted offers. Additionally, Walgreens engaged Hearst media to publish co-branded content that encouraged women to take control of their incontinence through proven effective tactics. Hearst was chosen as an editorial partner for its audience alignment, including Oprah Magazine and Woman’s Day as outlets.

Also, actors Kym Whitley and Debi Mazar were tapped as spokespeople for the campaign, sharing honest and humorous stories around the issue. They joined 12 micro influencers that created 96 pieces of original content with the products. The celebrity posts alone garnered nearly 3 million impressions. The Hearst partnership saw more than 40,000 page views.