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Loblaw calls Canadians back to the table

Country’s largest grocer continues its mission to get family and friends together at mealtime

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For the third straight year, Loblaw is rolling out a marketing campaign that strives to get more Canadians to take more time, to share more meals with friends and loved ones.

The Eat Together marketing platform (hashtagged #EatTogether) was relaunched last week with an attention-grabbing commercial that shows individuals out in the world, enjoying impressively ambitious experiences behind the narration of philosopher Allen Watts’ The Dream of Life. The ad builds to a conclusion of the same individuals gathered around a table to enjoy a meal together.

Once again, the President’s Choice brand is absent from the advertising and there are no product shots. Food is present but only to deliver the bigger message: Food on its own nourishes the body, but food shared with loved ones nourishes the soul. Because the ad is 90-seconds, it was shown in cinemas with a limited TV buy that included the World Junior hockey tournament.

Eat Together was inspired by Canada 150 celebrations, said Cheryl Grishkewich, vice-president, marketing, President’s Choice at Loblaw Companies Limited. Loblaw, she said, wanted to “kick-start a movement designed to bring all Canadians together.” That first year, the TV spot showed two young women hosting an impromptu dinner in the hall of their apartment building with more and more neighbours joining. Last year, it was the story of a young girl shown enjoying food with her family and friends as she grows up until she’s eating lunch alone at her desk. (Last year’s message about sharing meals with co-workers inspired a lunch time BBQ in the heart of Toronto’s financial district.)

“There are so many negative impacts when people eat alone, in fact it is the greatest contributor to unhappiness other than mental illness,” said Grishkewich. “Knowing this, we continue our mission to bring people together over food, as we want to make a positive impact in the lives of Canadians.”

Asked how the campaign has affected business, Grishkewich only said consumer response had been “very positive” and there has been strong engagement on social media. Campaigns like this are difficult to measure since there is no direct call to action in terms of sales, but are considered important for long time brand perception among consumers.

To back up the Eat Together campaign this year, Loblaw commissioned a study about the social eating habits of Canadians.“We know that most Canadians want to spend more time eating together, but as a society we have numerous distractions that keep us from doing so,” said Grishkewich.

The study found 92% of Canadians want to spend more time enjoying a meal with loved ones. However, 43% say they spend less than one hour each day enjoying a meal with friends and family and 29% admit to spending more than four hours of their free time engaging with screens each day.

The campaign will roll out over the next 12 months, reaching a high point in June with Eat Together Day, however other elements will be in market beyond that.

New this year, Loblaw created an Eat Together pledge, where simply by clicking a button pledging to eat more with family and friends, Loblaw donates $1 to its PC Children’s Charity.

“By incorporating the charitable element to the PC Eat Together pledge, we feel that we are inspiring people to act, and to change their daily routine to include more time eating together with people who matter,” said Grishkewich.

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