Best Long-term Agency Partnership

Stickman campaign

The 25-year-long partnership between Foodstuffs and FCB has consisted of shared beliefs, values, focus and lots of fun. Twelve of those years have been dedicated to PAK’nSAVE’s iconic stickman campaign that has continued to deliver on ROI.

The Challenge

FCB and Foodstuffs joined forces in 1995 and since then have gone through numerous CEOs, CMOs, brand managers, strategists, writers and art directors. In 2007, FCB presented Stickman which has been PAK’nSAVE’s running campaign for the past 12 years with more than 25 creatives involved.  

Although the dynamic partnership was seeing success after success – the evolution of the Stickman campaign evident of this – the challenge came down to competition. In 2007 PAK’nSAVE was under threat as Woolworths Australia had purchased Progressive, including supermarkets Foodtown, Woolworths NZ and Countdown, and had begun offering benefits like fuel discounts and Onecard. 

By 2009 the three supermarkets morphed into one monster brand and the new ‘Countdown’ would use massive Australian buying and marketing to attack PAK’nSAVE’s low-price position. In 2012 Countdown was consistently using heavily promoted “Weekend Windbacks”, “Price Drops,” and “Price Limits.” Launching into PAK’nSAVE’S territory, Countdown also launched ‘Price Lockdown’, with permanently low prices on 1,500 top products. 

To compete, Foodstuffs and FCB set three objectives for PAK’nSAVE to reach: long-term relevance and appeal, maintain perception as NZ’s lowest priced supermarket, and maintain market share. 

The Response 

Every supermarket advertises convenience, product range, quality, freshness and help, however those benefits undermine low-price perceptions because they cost money to deliver. Conversely, shoppers trust low-price messages more if they know how costs are cut. This led to the bold decision of telling shoppers what they wouldn’t get at PAK’nSAVE. Promoting the small sacrifices that their clever shoppers made would highlight PAK’nSAVE’s lowest-price position. 

It was also important to look cheap. Consumers can be suspicious of a low-price retailer paired with expensive advertising, so FCB’s production approach was set to remind shoppers that everything PAK’nSAVE does, including its advertising, keeps the prices down. 

Advertising for Stickman is always overtly and humorously Kiwi, with PAK’nSAVE being New Zealand-owned and owner-operated, this was important to incorporate into the campaign. Most importantly, FCB and Foodstuffs wanted to create a singular, distinctive creative approach that would work across media, last for years, and be instantly linked to the brand.  

The Result

The collective work between Foodstuffs and FCB has resulted in a record 30 time appearance of Stickman in Colmar Brunton’s monthly Top Ten (popular) TVC list since 2014, with no signs of him wearing out. Despite Countdown’s focused efforts, the gap between PAK’nSAVE and Countdown’s price perception remains vast and unchanged. Between 2017 and 2020, PAK’nSAVE won more support in the category. 

As for partnership, the respect and trust between Foodstuffs and FCB is the driver behind the successful brand presence PAK’nSAVE possesses. Although there will be mistakes and learnings throughout the years of co-operation, it is evident they can be worked through. Within the industry, marketers often change partnerships too quickly which can lead to losing valuable brand knowledge and ways of working.

Entry details

Category: Long-Term Agency Partnership
Company: Foodstuffs – PAK’nSAVE & FCB New Zealand
Marketing Initiative: A Brand and Partnership That’s Built to Last
Judge’s Comments: “The Foodstuffs / FCB relationship has been a long-term strategic alignment, keeping its proposition relevant and fresh through a multitude of people changes in both the client and agency. This relationship demonstrates a triumph of sustained commitment to brand principles over egos, and the results speak for themselves.”
Finalists: Suzuki New Zealand & GSL Promotus; J. H. Whittaker & Sons & MBM; Meridian Energy & BC&F Dentsu

This article was originally published in the December/January 2020 issue of NZ Marketing. You can subscribe to the magazine, here. Or read the other winner stories, here.

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