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How Lidl’s TrolleyCam Blurred the Boundaries of Branded Content

Trends and Insight 549 Add to collection

Chemistry’s Sinead Cosgrove and Robert Boyle explore Lidl Ireland’s reality TV inspired campaign

How Lidl’s TrolleyCam Blurred the Boundaries of Branded Content
Last month, Lidl launched their innovative new ‘TrolleyCam’ campaign, turning the tables on customers by putting them on camera, filming them as they carry out their (often hilarious) weekly shop.

Devised by Irish creative agency Chemistry, the campaign is inspired by the ever-increasing popularity of reality TV shows, like Gogglebox, that have turned normal people doing normal things into interesting television characters that we welcome in to our homes every week. 

Chemistry’s Planning Director, Sinead Cosgrove, and Deputy Creative Director, Robert Boyle, talk us through a campaign that blurs the boundaries of branded content with its innovate approach and explain the challenges of capturing authentic footage in a logistically complex situation…

LBB > Where did the concept for the campaign come from? What was the brief and what were you looking to achieve from the campaign?

Sinead > Lidl is the number one ‘top-up’ shop in Ireland with a high penetration of shoppers. Nearly seven in 10 people do some or all of their shopping at Lidl. There is a huge commercial opportunity to target top up shoppers and convert them to full shoppers. Lidl ran a very successful full shop campaign in 2016 and we wanted to build on this by creating even bigger impact. 

We know that people are fundamentally risk adverse so the idea is to simply show people in a way they can relate to doing their full shop at Lidl. People buy other people and the creative concept is designed to really tap into our vicarious and quite nosy nature. 

Robert > A trolley full of produce is a fingerprint of an individual's tastes, attitude, lifestyle choices and backstory. The proof is in the pudding and we wanted to show that if every trolley tells 100 stories, Lidl can be a theatre to all of them. Inspired by the rise of a certain strand of reality TV – like Gogglebox and First Dates -  that feature ordinary people doing normal things, we felt that the act of shopping could be just as compelling. What these shows do for dating and pop culture, we wanted to do for shop culture, getting up close to the minutiae of people’s lives in a way that feels authentic, 
We came up with the idea for TrolleyCam, transforming a Lidl trolley into the world’s most elaborate selfie stick and asked shoppers all over Ireland to do their full shop.


LBB > Logistically, how was the campaign set up to capture the footage without intruding upon the shopper’s experiences?

Robert > There was a massive element of risk involved as this factor was the great unknown, however our insistence on realism drove the project; from our choice of director, internationally awarded documentary maker Ken Wardrop, to the insistence that all footage be shot during real opening hours, with unassuming members of the public in the background. 

Background shoppers and the provision of a real uninterrupted shopping environment proved to be a massive challenge, as we incentivised members of the public to sign release forms when they were leaving the supermarket, so as not to make them conscious of the setup on their way in. 

We also distracted from the large Alexa filled appendage on the trolley by casing it in a box with humdrum advertisements printed on. Rather than staring down the camera, most thought it was an ignorable sales promotion. There were also dummy TrolleyCams around the store so the public grew used to them very quickly.


LBB > What were the biggest challenges with this campaign? 

Sinead > We were prepared for the possibility that we might just get enough footage for a good compilation edit of various families doing their full shop, but of course, in our hearts we wanted to give a more in-depth insight into each of our families shopping habits. 

We knew that the appeal of the campaign would be in its portrayal of the universal, however there was no way of knowing how the shoppers would react to the setup. 

Robert > It became very clear, very quickly, that by the time our shoppers had traversed a single aisle the task at hand took over. Their real-life considerations and needs came into play and they forgot, for the most part, about the camera. It was evident very early on that we had struck gold in terms of how relaxed and uninhibited they were, allowing for authentic niggles, quips, giggles and tiffs.

Not only would this campaign prove entertaining, but the participants were all doing very full shops, thus proving what we already knew - anyone can do their full shop at Lidl. 

LBB > It’s such a simple concept that’s been executed perfectly – is it something you can see translating into other Lidl territories? 

Sinead > The campaign has been planned very carefully, not just to be a big idea but also a sustainable one. We wanted to avoid a one-off campaign and instead develop a ‘chapters’ approach whereby the campaign narrative is refreshed with content to keep our audiences interested and stimulated.

The campaign has lots of layers and is very iterative so there’s lots of potential for this to build and build. It’s also been designed to be useful by providing shoppers with genuine insight and behavioural tools on how to get more out of their shop at Lidl. This long tail approach is key as our aim isn’t just to disrupt but fundamentally change buying behaviour. We believe the combination of the big idea with the longer tail approach will be more effective at changing ingrained habits and help people switch over their full shop to Lidl. 

Lidl Ireland is one of the more mature markets, and it is known for its excellence in this discipline. As a mature market and with a reputation for innovation, Lidl Ireland has shared previous successes and approaches which have been used outside of Ireland so there is every chance that other markets could look to translate this into other Lidl territories.


LBB > How collaborative was the creative process? 

Sinead > This was very collaborative. Lidl loved the concept from the onset and could see its potential to showcase its strong points: its products, its people and its stores. Lidl acknowledged the hard work that had gone into concept simplification in the early stages, setting the tone for the campaign in terms of realism, honesty and authenticity, so the whole organisation - not just the marketing department - was fully behind the campaign. 

LBB > This campaign is much closer to being branded content than it is to being a traditional TVC campaign – how difficult is it to find a balance between showcasing products and in-store promotions whilst retaining the natural performances from the shoppers?

Sinead> The worst thing is to burden any one communication with achieving too much. It’s also wrong to burden your audience with too much information as they just switch off. There are lots of traditional retail elements but they form part of the overall campaign.

We broke out the tasks based on a very well researched consumer journey and planned the communication task for each stage. So, for example, in the first stage, we want people to relate to the shoppers and be motivated to do their full shop at Lidl. At other stages it will be important to focus on other messages such as savings or new product range. As Lidl has products and ranges that are own brand, it will also be important to get shoppers familiar with these. 

Providing shoppers with lots of ideas on how to full shop at Lidl is a key part of this campaign - as is incentivising larger purchases. The trick is to provide the information that is most relevant to the shopper depending on what stage of the journey they are on rather than try to do it all in one go. This enables us, through the line, to dive deeper into the shops done by our participants, and encourage a healthy sense of voyeurism - what did this family buy exactly?

LBB > Who are your favourite shoppers and why!?

Sinead > This is hard as they all bring something different to the table. But it would have to be Denis and Marie. They are off the scale engaging and don’t appear to realise how naturally funny they are.


Robert > I think everyone will relate to the absolutely universal Irish mum seen in the Smyths’ shop. Not every Mum would handle the situation with such wryness in front of a camera, and we’re so glad Elena did. It’s not an adland portrayal of family life. It’s real and recognisable, which ultimately sets Lidl in the frame of brand as peer, as opposed to the behemoth like overtones of some of the more prominent competitors.

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Categories: Supermarkets, Retail and Restaurants

Chemistry, Tue, 20 Jun 2017 11:14:26 GMT