Whole Foods first national ad campaign: Is the “time is ripe” to market corporate values to consumers?

values matter

Is there customer value in corporate values? Whole Foods, the Austin-based organic supermarket chain, is pinning their hopes on the answer being ‘yes’.

According to the Austin Business Journal, Whole Foods has disappointed investors with “consecutive quarters of slow same-store sales growth and lower than expected earnings per share”. Its stock has lost more than 43 percent of its value, falling from a high of $65.24 per share in October 2013 to $39.94 per share last week.

The natural foods retail giant is seeking to reverse this downward trend.  And in its first national brand marketing campaign, it is putting its “values” centre stage.

The announcer in Whole Foods 60 second “Values Matter Anthem” declares: “We are hungrier for better than we ever realised. We want to know where our food comes from. We care to what happens to it along the way.  We want to trust our sources. We want people and animals and the places our food comes from to be treated fairly. The time is ripe to champion the way food is grown and raised and caught. So it’s good for us, and for the greater good, too. This is where it all comes to fruition. This is where values matter. Whole Foods Market, America’s healthiest grocery store.”

The central narrative plays out in a suite of separate commercials.

  • The voiceover in Whole Foods’ beef ad talks about buying cattle “who’ve had room to roam” by “people with responsible ranching practices.” And closes with the line “for us value is inseparable from values”.
  • Similarly, in a commercial for Whole Foods produce, the voiceover describes how its fruits and vegetables “support organic and sustainable farming” and are grown with “our ethical trade program.”
  • Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that accompanying print ads will carry copy including “Eat like an idealist,” “Healthy food does good” and “Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love” — as well as discussing ‘issues like sustainability, philanthropy and “a growing consciousness that’s bigger than food.”’

The ads will run on television, in print, online, outdoors and in its 399 stores. According to the NYT, the budget for the campaign is estimated at $15 million to $20 million; approximately four-times more than what it has spent on advertising in previous years. Whole Foods spent $4.5 million to advertise last year.

The goal, said Jeannine D’Addario, global vice president for marketing and communications at Whole Foods in Austin, Texas, will be to assist shoppers to “make more meaningful choices” at a time when they “are hungrier than ever before for information about the food they eat.”

We’ll continue to work on providing more and more information around our value propositions,” she added. “This campaign communicates that value and values go hand in hand.”

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