Magazine article ADWEEK

Ralphs Calls on Founder for Post-Strike Effort: Beleaguered Grocer Conjures Up History in Heil-Brice Spots

Magazine article ADWEEK

Ralphs Calls on Founder for Post-Strike Effort: Beleaguered Grocer Conjures Up History in Heil-Brice Spots

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES Hoping to lure back shoppers after a four-month grocery-workers strike that cost the company millions of dollars, Ralphs Grocery Co. seeks a stronger emotional connection with consumers in a new campaign that conjures up founder George Ralphs.

Four TV spots from Heil-Brice Retail Advertising break Wednesday for the 130-year-old chain. The action, which is set during the retailer's early days, shows an actor portraying Ralphs who demonstrates his commitment to service, fresh food and fair prices in ways that "came from historical things George used to say and stand for," said Hal Brice, president and executive creative director at the Newport Beach, Calif., independent.

One spot, called "The Founder," shows Ralphs meticulously arranging items on shelves as he rushes to prepare the store before welcoming the first patron of the day. In another spot, "The Farmer," Ralphs buys a local farmer's entire crop to guarantee the lowest-priced and highest-quality produce.

The commercials, running only in California, use the new tagline, "California's grocer." The previous tagline, "First in California," appears on a flag at the end of each spot.

"We're trying to establish some emotional connection post-strike," said Brice. "We're going back to the core and finding out what makes Ralphs Ralphs."

Ralphs, a unit of the No. 1 supermarket chain in the country, Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., was one of three Southern California grocers hit hard when roughly 70,000 workers walked out last October to protest proposed health, pension and wage cuts. …

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