What's more badass than saving money on groceries? Playing an 8-bit video game about saving money on groceries, what else?
Last year, Canadian discount grocery chain No Frills rebranded its customers as "Haulers"—savvy shoppers who get more for less—in a popular video created by John St. in Toronto.
Now, the "Haulers" concept returns with a throwback game, "Aisles of Glory," playable in mobile and desktop formats. The goal is to "train" for the IRL No Frills experience by roaming through a virtual store and collecting deals while eschewing expensive, superfluous merchandise. Gameplay is based on side-scrollers like Mario and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a physical '80s-style arcade version is set for a Canadian tour.
What's more, customers can win points in the brand's loyalty program by playing every day. So basically, they've gamified grocery shopping. Suck it, Whole Foods!
"Last year's campaign was incredibly successful, garnering over 3 million views across YouTube and Facebook," says John St. executive creative director Cher Campbell. "Our customers even started self-identifying as 'Haulers.'"
OK, maybe so, but … why follow up with an old-timey game?
"The retro animation was a way of creating something fun for our customers while keeping it 'No Frills,'" says Campbell. "Our target audience definitely grew up playing these games, so there's certainly an element of nostalgia that we're tapping into."
Sure, brand gamification's nothing new these days, but this simple, appealing implementation—with real savings at stake—feels markedly on brand.
"Haulers put in just as much work as professional athletes, so why shouldn't they be celebrated like them?" Campbell says. "Pretty much every great athlete has their own video game franchise, so it was time to give our Haulers one, too."
Below is a minute-long spot, "Haul or Nothing," with lots of visual frills, as the brand fetes its shoppers in the style of sports heroes.
"The imagery and attitude of the film is meant to pay homage to the genre of epic sports ads," Campbell says. "From running with speed chutes, to training in wide open fields, to being celebrated in a spotlit stadium—everything is meant to elevate Haulers to the level of elite athletes."
That was a really impressive big bag at the very end, too. Looks like you'll have to try harder, Primark!
Title: "Haul or Nothing "
Client: Loblaw Companies Limited
Brand: No Frills
SVP Marketing: Uwe Stueckmann
VP Marketing: Mary MacIsaac
Director, Brand Marketing: Ashley McGill
Senior Brand Manager: David Becker
Brand Manager: Naveet Nanwa
Brand Specialist: Teresa Tornatore
Agency: John St.
Chief Creative Officer: Angus Tucker
Executive Creative Director: Cher Campbell
Copywriter: Robbie Percy
Art Director: Caroline Friesen
Head of Production: Aimee DeParolis
Executive Producer: Brittani Wilcox
Account Service: Nick Pigott, Lindsay Day, Kelly Brennan
Strategy: Megan Towers, Mario Ramirez Reyes
Director: Ian Schwartz
Production Company: Radke Films
Executive Producer: Scott Mackenzie, Tony DiMarco
Line Producer: Rob Jacklin
Director of Photography: Albert Salas
Editorial Company: Married to Giants
Editor: Graham Chisholm, Married to Giants
Executive Producer: Denise Shearer, Married to Giants
Color: Clinton Homuth, Artjail
VFX / Online: The Vanity
Lead VFX Artist: Sean Cochrane, The Vanity
VFX Artists: Kaelem Cahill, Andrew Farlow, The Vanity
VFX Producer: Katie Methot, The Vanity
Executive Producer: Stephanie Pennington, The Vanity
Audio House: SNDWRx
Music Creative Director: Didier Tovel
Executive Producer: Alison Lawee
Music Composer: Didier Tovel
Sound Design: Didier Tovel
Additional Sound Design: Stephen Cullen, Savanna Salloum, Jemuel Roberts
Mixing Engineers: Eric Hulme, Didier Tovel, Savana Salloum