Save A Lot Re-brands an Old Format

Sarasota, Florida Save-a-Lot on Lime Avenue. It was originally an A&P, built in the centennial design with belfry and weather vane.

ST. LOUIS – The Netflix drama Outer Banks has cleverly reintroduced the teen mystery format to a new audience. The show, which has started a second season, also has introduced a real Southern aesthetic to television. Peppered are mentions of brands, from Grady White boats to the Save A Lot grocery chain, which is referenced in a brief derogatory voice-over about a parking lot an early episode in season 1.

This is a nice coincidence, as Save A Lot has just released a new brand design and ad campaign from the Portland, Maine agency VIA.

While it was a tiny mention, the awareness comes in a year when the chain was planning a new logo and theme song directed by film director Drew Kirsch, who won an MTV Video of the Year award for Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down.” The company released the video last week; it can be seen at bottom.

Even with new logo and snazzy rap music, St. Louis discount chain is in a challenging place. On Dec, 5, 2016, Toronto-based Onex Corporation purchased the company from Supervalu, and since then, competition in the supermarket sector has increased. Not only does the chain have competition from the likes of Walmart, Kroger, Publix and Target, but discounters Aldi and Lidl are aggressively opening stores across the U.S. These retailers use a similar model (mostly store brands, limited selection, pack your bags yourself, merchandise in boxes) but they are also picking better locations, and have a store plan that is more efficient.

Meanwhile, Save A Lot is stuck with approximately 1,000 stores, many in older locations. At the same time discounter ALDI (ALDI Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG) is opening about 100 stores a year in the U.S., and now has over 2,000 locations. Meanwhile, Lidl (Stiftung & Co. KG) is opening around 50 stores a year, many in more affluent areas.

Rebrand Brings Excitement

Wide aisles and the new logo on store banners.

The rebrand and video is a way to bring some excitement and energy into Save A Lot, which often suffers with older locations. For instance, they have refreshed their store in Sarasota, Florida with new signage and displays. But the location is a challenge. It is an old A&P, which opened in the early 1960s. While some of the Colonial Village store is changed, the layout and design, including cupola, are the A&P Centennial Prototype, which debuted for A&P’s centennial in 1959, and were put into service in the 1960s across the nation. The Save A Lot follows that simple prototype, with produce to the left, meat in the back, and freezers on the right.

Those who recognize the design of centennial A&P’s, which were ubiquitous across the nation, will see the echoes. Most, however, might just see an old store, with a pothole-filled parking lot, and lower income customers.

Drew Kirsch’s video is clever, and it hits the same phrase, Save A Lot, over and over again. The message that a customer will save a lot will not be lost. And the commercial is funky enough not to be an over-promise for a Save-a-lot store, which suffers with a cast of characters as staff, and customers. The video features three singers, including Tamara Bubble, Leon Evans and Sarai. It also happens to fit with the store demographics, which include the elderly.

Bubble is a bit saucy; a link to her web page includes the video “Lick Dis” which most certainly does not refer to Save A Lot’s house brand of ice cream, World’s Fair. The colors in the video are genius, from a yellow Western Electric telephone to shoppers in purple track suits that match a purple shopping cart.

Designed to be Catchy

Here, a mid 1960s ad for the A&P in Sarasota that is now the current home of Save A Lot in that market. The location has served a number of grocery chains over the years, and caters to an inner-city audience.

It all started when we took a closer look at the little red dot in our logo,” said Tim Schroder, senior vice president of marketing, for Save A Lot. “Over the last year, our focus has been on our long-term growth and becoming a brand of choice for our customers, including providing them with an enhanced hometown shopping experience. This new campaign further builds on our current efforts of modernizing our stores and breaking out of the sea of sameness that’s taken over the industry as of late.”

The company hired the Portland, Maine advertising agency VIA for the rebranding. VIA, located at the historic Baxter Library in Portland, has clients that include Flex, Make-A-Wish, Unilever’s Klondike, and Popsicle, Arm & Hammer, Perdue, and Golden Corral, among others.

The logo by VIA is eye catching and straightforward. Accompanying the logo in the store are dozens of point of sale banners and displays. The chain also uses its snazzy and updated house brands as an enticement to shoppers.

“There are many places to buy groceries – even gas stations and pharmacies – with ‘low prices’ and ‘hot deals’ not being anything new,” said said Teddy Stoecklein, Creative Director, in the release. “The first thing we had to do was to stop acting like a grocery store.”

Onex Corporation purchased Save A Lot from Supervalu Inc. for $1.365 billion in 2016. Onex Partners IV made an equity investment of $660 million, of which Onex’ share was $186 million as a limited partner.

Below, take a view of the video, which will be used across all media, and judge for yourself.

About the Author

  • Garland Pollard is publisher/editor of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands. He has decades of experience across all media, including newspapers, TV, radio, magazines and the web.

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