Four Square’s medieval marketing magic

Four Square, a New Zealand-based supermarket chain with a history dating back almost a century, has undergone quite the transformation in recent years. In conversation with Diane Clark, Head of Marketing & CX at Four Square, we find out what goes into revitalising an iconic brand and explore how the ‘What’ll It Be Today?’ platform has captured the attention of customers. 

Two-and-a-half years ago, upon discovering the brand wasn’t resonating with customers like it used to, Four Square knew it was time for a brand overhaul. 

Over the years campaigns had lacked consistency. “We hadn’t had that investment in the brand to drive it,” says Diane. “What we understood early on was the need to rally behind the brand positioning and to be really clear on our purpose and what our commitment to our customers was.” 

She says part of this was rallying around the brand’s positioning to make the everyday shopping mission easier. Four Square wanted to position itself as the port of call for the unplanned shop, rather than the full basket or trolley shop. 

“For us, it’s all pinned around how we make those shopping missions easier in the next two to four hours. So that dependable convenience. Dependable convenience is our brand essence and that’s what we’ve pinned everything on. And you can start to see that coming through in the communication. ‘What’ll It Be Today?’ means at any point and given any mission, you can pop into one of our stores and we will have exactly what you need to solve that mission in the next two to four hours.” 

What sets Four Square apart is not just its commitment to convenience, but also its creative approach. The ‘King’s Feast’ campaign, featuring a medieval-themed setting with a knight shopping at Four Square, exemplifies this creativity. 

It’s a quirky and humorous concept that has generated significant buzz with consumers and the ad industry alike and reinforces Four Square’s brand positioning with a touch of Kiwi humour. ‘King’s Feast’ introduces the audience to Jeff the knight and hero of the TVC going on a quick mission to collect a few essential items at Four Square for the King’s feast. As it’s so easy to shop there, he returns from his mission successful. 

“Creative from my point of view is really important. It makes you stand out, and your comms more effective., This script was one of three different territories, but it definitely stood out because the idea of seeing a knight in the supermarket just feels peculiar,” says Diane.  

And customers clearly agreed. Early research showed a jump in consumer consideration for Four Square after seeing the campaign.  

“We’ve been building the ‘What It Will Be Today?’ campaign across the last 18 months, and research showed that there was a jump in customer consideration for Four Square once they’d seen our new advertising platform. So it’s been really positive.” 

Diane says, however, that from that research they knew not enough customers were seeing their advertising, which is why they chose to reach a larger audience with an AV campaign. 

“That gave us the credentials to say, we know if we put this onto TV and online video we’d get a larger reaching audience, more customers will see it and reconsider Four Square. We have seen that momentum change across that as well, which is great.” 

With this insight under their belt, Four Square’s marketing team adopted an integrated approach, utilising various channels such as cinema, TV, digital, billboards, and large format Out of Home advertising. The results have been promising, and winning The Kantar Ad Impact Award in April further validated the campaign’s success. 

One of the most significant achievements to come out of this campaign is the shift in perception within the company. The marketing team successfully convinced the business that marketing is not just a cost centre but a profit centre and that the investment in marketing, especially in AV advertising, has paid off in terms of market share growth and brand recognition. 

“I often say that teaching non-marketers is marketing. Getting them to understand the impact that AV advertising can have and getting them to agree to that was a really proud moment.” 

Looking ahead, Diane says Four Square has plans to continue building on the ‘What’ll It Be Today?’ platform and she and the team plan to focus on refining its retail strategies to convert customers into in-store shoppers effectively. This involves finding the right approach that aligns with the brand’s value proposition, especially considering its competition. 

This includes introducing initiatives like ‘Everyday Great Price’ tickets instore to offer consistent and trusted pricing to customers. In a world where the cost-of-living is rising, this approach helps build trust with customers. 

“Our Everyday Great Price ticket in store mean that those products are locked down for a set period of time on the products that mean the most to our customers. Value is underpinning everything we are doing and boosts us as a company. We are really focused on driving or keeping our food price index as low as possible as well.” 

With the brand’s 100th birthday coming up next year, Diane is very aware of the need to balance staying relevant without losing this history. 

“It’s a big milestone birthday and we have been around for a very long time, so it was how do we take that history and that heritage with us into the future? The ‘What’ll It Be Today?’ campaign was really about becoming a bit more modern and taking a fresh, vibrant approach, but not losing that history.” 

As a nod to this, Charlie, Four Square’s original iconic mascot, still features heavily in all of its brand assets, while infusing a fresh and vibrant approach to stay relevant to new generations of customers. 

Four Square’s recent marketing efforts serve as a successful example of how to reinvigorate an iconic brand. Together the ‘What’ll It Be Today?’ and the King’s Feast campaign have not only captured the attention of shoppers but also the hearts of Kiwis, showcasing dependable convenience, creative marketing, and a customer-centric approach. 

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About Bernadette Basagre

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles, The Register and Idealog. To get in touch with her, email [email protected].

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