“We Shop Like You Shop”?… Oh, I so hope you don’t.

The Ocado man delivers more than food

The Ocado man delivers more than food

The Ocado man delivers more than food
The Ocado man delivers more than food

Back in 2005, we got the ‘Hail Mary Pass’ of all account wins. We had impressed Tim Steiner and Jason Gissing and the Ocado ad business was ours – provided we didn’t change the campaign. Unfortunately, the campaign was 30 secs of a singing van driver: memorable and contagious, but hardly lovable. In fact the week before, Campaign Magazine had run a news story saying, “Take this Bloody Annoying Radio Campaign Off Air Now Or We Start Taking Hostages!” (I paraphrase.)

Eight months later, Campaign voted one of our new scripts one of their 10 Best Radio Commercials of the Year.

We hadn’t changed the campaign, we’d merely written the new commercials with a smile,  in a language that people might use themselves, in a way that they would enjoy listening to. We’d written the scripts in a verbal identity that was much truer to Ocado’s ethos.

A smile can be part of your Verbal Identity

The Ocado man delivers

More important than the nice warm feeling of smoke being blown up our behinds by Campaign or the satisfaction of walking down the street and hearing school children singing your song, Ocado’s sales increased. But was it due to the radio commercials?

Partially. What was really happening was a process of  continual improvement within Ocado, as they looked at how they could increase the ways they were perceived as helpful, friendly people who deliver good quality food from Waitrose.

The order of that last line is important: there has to be a reason beyond the food itself.

More importantly, if you’ve hardwired visiting a supermarket into your weekly routine, the service offering has to be significantly better than just doing the shopping yourself.

Ocado understood that, that’s why they had colour coded bags (purple goes in freezer, blue in cupboard etc), would deliver until 11pm at night, they carry the shopping up your stairs and right into your kitchen and a bunch of other things too. And somehow, they always do it with a smile.

We always try and remind brand owners to step back and consider what they write, because a brand’s Verbal Identity betrays more than just the surface values of the words.  And I think Waitrose’s endline (“We Shop Like You Do.”) might just say more about the quality of their service than they’d intended.

We are profoundly biased towards Ocado. Of course we are, they’re a client and they have paid for the (Ocado) food my children will sit down and eat this evening.

But we choose our clients carefully. We want to work with people that can put a smile on our faces as well as food on our table.

And we want to work with people who make us believe they what they really need from us is something far better than they could do for themselves.