In Kroger's Holiday Spot, Every Picture Tells a Story

The brand's Krojis return in 'Cuisine Exchange'

The year-end holiday season has barely begun, but Kroger's already delivering the feels.

In a short film, "Cuisine Exchange," the brand focuses on the power of food to unite folks of different backgrounds and generations.

The supermarket chain's animated "Kroji" characters return in a tale directed by Yves Geleyn and Michael Thurmeier. Ed Sheeran's "Photograph" provides the soundtrack (and snapshots drive the story). Adam&eveDDB New York led creative development.

The work's as sentimental as you'd expect, but also restrained. It emphasizes lifelong rituals in a way that just about transcends the schmaltz.

Kroger | Cuisine Exchange

"Our audience consists of time- and money-crunched families who want to max-out the quality of the meals they serve their families within their budget," VP of marketing Tom Duncan tells Muse. "The holidays have made them realize that they don't have to live up to traditions that may cause needless stress. They can just adapt them or create their own traditions, which makes the holidays happier and more enjoyable."

"Our goal this year is to remind every customer Kroger has the foods they love, no matter the traditions they bring to the table," he says.

The project took about 16 weeks to complete using CGI. 

"Right from the starts, we knew that we wanted to use photographs on the refrigerator as the way to show both the passage of time and the experiences shared with each exchange student," Duncan says. "The photos were a great shorthand and worked naturally with the music track."

The team took great care in aging the characters, too.

"There had to be about a 15-year gap, but each character needed to stay recognizable," Duncan says. "For the couple, we had to find the right depth for the wrinkles and the right amount of salt and pepper for the hair. Their outfits didn't change much, but the fabrics became a little fuzzier and softer."

As for the exchange students, "they got taller and their outfits more professional. But because we only see each character in a photo, each one had to be instantly recognizable. To accomplish this, we kept the color schemes similar and didn't change the shape of their faces."

This level of detail helps create a rich commercial universe for the characters and raises the project above typical yuletide fare.

"The trick was maintaining a level of simplicity, while still being rich and tactile, especially for the food shots," Duncan recalls. "We used depth of field cinematically, as though looking through a camera, so everything felt like it had a place."

"It's not your traditional style of holiday film. It's less heavy-handed with the classic holiday iconography, but it’s still full of the same heart."


Agency: adam&eveDDB New York
Caroline Winterton, CEO
James Rowe, Managing Director
Richard Brim, Global Chief Creative Officer
Amanda Peters, Head of Strategy
Mat Bisher, Group Executive Creative Director
Paulo Junger, Executive Creative Director
Jason Ashlock, Executive Creative Director
Rafael Oliveira, Associate Creative Director
Vinicius Fernandes, Creative Director
Mussashi Shintaku, Creative Director
Patrick Conlon, Creative Director
Teri Altman, Executive Director, Production
Bree Hopenwasser, Sr Producer
Christopher Lane, Associate Producer
Alan Perlman, Executive Director
Natascha Vega, Group Business Director
Jessica Miller, Account Director
Olivia Jacobson, Sr. Account Executive
Camille Coklow, Sr. Program Manager
Madeline Foster, Program Manager

Client: The Kroger Co.
Stuart Aiken, CMO
Tom Duncan, VP Head of Marketing
Emily Hartmann, Sr. Director Brand Marketing
Erin Rolfes, Director Corporate Communications,
Karrie Pukstas, Sr Brand Manager
Lindsey Hasis, Brand Manager
Kate Mosure, Assistant Brand Manager
Kendall Weems, Brand Specialist

Production Company: Hornet 
Director: Yves Geleyn & Mike Thurmeier
Managing Partner: Hana Shimizu
Director of Production: Karen Lawler
Head of Creative Development: Kristin Labriola
Executive Producer: Alex Unick
Head of Production: Dez Stavracos
Producer: Heather Hardin
Senior Editor: Anita Chao
Assistant Editor: Cole Bannick
Production Coordinator: Karla Palacios
Talent Coordinator: Jon Chun
Storyboard Artist: Name Camillo Clauser
Character Designer: Hannah Kim, Tom Humber
Art Director: Michael Knapp
CG Supervisor: George Smaragdis
CG Lead: Pakorn Bupphavesa
Comp Lead: Carl Mok
CG Generalist: Angeline Rivera, Natalia Perez Melendez, Nelson Mai, Daniel Lombardi, Nick Wergin
Character Modeler: Constance Bensen
Set Modeler: Alex Levenson
Rigging: Carlos Sandoval, Chris Hill
Light & Rendering: Cody Chen, Mirelle Underwood, Nicole Noel, Sylvia Apostol
Compositor: Nicole Noel, Paulo Dias, Shandy Tam, Eric Concepcion Animator Chris Mayne, Hee Jin Kim, Kaitlin Yu, Matt Parent

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