Battle of the Supermarket Love Stories

Fay Latham, Research Associate – System1 Research, reflects on how French supermarkets Intermarché and Monoprix used Feeling to create 4- and 5-Star adverts.

In a move away from product-pushing and pricing wars, French supermarket giants Intermarché and Monoprix have made the move into Feeling. Using the classic boy meets girl love story template, the brands’ new 3- and 4- minute spots are more short film than classic ad.

In Intermarché’s L’amour L’amour a boy falls in love with the supermarket cashier. The 3-minute ad shows him going back to the store daily, improving his cooking as he goes. Monoprix’s Lait Drôle la Vie (to celebrate their 80th Birthday) riffs off a similar love story. In this 4-minute spot, we see a young boy cutting out words of the Monoprix packaging to send as love notes to the girl he likes. In both ads we see a happy ever after ending – the boy and girl skip off into the sunset together, metaphorically speaking.

First and foremost, kudos to both brands, as these ads perform outstandingly in System1 Research’s testing. At 4- and 5-Stars respectively, Intermarché and Monoprix generate high levels of happiness, particularly contentment and amusement. Both use strong storytelling and create large emotional peaks throughout showing how well the two ads engage the audience. Indeed neither is product-centric: it’s not about the story serving the product but the product serving the story. The story is the hero not the product.

Intermarché Facetracing

Monoprix Facetracing

But why does the Monoprix commercial work better?

Intermarché’s 4-star ad L’amour L’amour is an engaging ad thanks to its touching story of love set to a nice soundtrack. It is strongly associated with healthy food and people remain emotionally engaged throughout. However some do complain that the ad is too long. Indeed all negatives towards the ad are driven by the duration of the film, suggesting that it doesn’t quite succeed in holding everyone’s attention until the end. While it does have a peak of Happiness at the end after some emotional resolution its emotional profile is quite flat for much of the ad.

Monoprix’s ad Lait Drôle la Vie is an exceptional 5 star ad. Much like Intermarché the touching love story of the ad drives positives. People really engage with the story and with a particularly dynamic emotional journey it succeeds in bringing the audience through the motions with the hero of the story. When he is sad so is the audience, creating a large peak in sadness. Monoprix successfully lingers on the separation enough for people to feel really involved in the story. Despite being 1 minute longer than L’amour L’amour, there are no complaints that the Monoprix ad is too long because they are fully engaged from start to finish. It underlines the fact that sadness can be an incredibly effective emotion to use in advertising – if it’s fully resolved, as it is here.

In terms of distinctiveness Monoprix also comes out on top. In 2010 the supermarket brand took the decision to change their branding from images to words, and with tongue in cheek slogans all over their packaging the brand has created a distinctive asset that is undeniably theirs. This ad cleverly puts this asset at the centre of the story without actually talking about the product. Whilst Intermarché does this to some extent their ad could be for any supermarket. You could easily put Monoprix’s logo on the Intermarché ad but not the other way round. But Intermarché was not to be defeated. One week after Monoprix released their ad, Intermarché came out with a shorter 1-minute version of their ad that was all over the TV.

Monoprix’s Lait Drôle la Vie has not had the same exposure as Intermarché’s L’amour L’amour, even though it’s a more emotionally effective ad. It was only screened 13 times, not surprising as a 4 minute TV spot undoubtedly costs an arm and a leg. They did follow up the ad with 13 alternative endings in mini-film form, which is a good start, but at the end of the day not enough people have seen it. So what’s next? Now we know they’re sitting on a goldmine we strongly advise they send out a short version to increase exposure and to ensure this blockbuster ad doesn’t go to waste.

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