It’s been a golden summer for Aldi, thanks to a sponsorship strategy that saw the retailer back Team GB, winners of 67 Olympic medals including 27 gold. There can be little doubt that sponsoring the British Olympic effort has proved to be a winner in every respect – Aldi has gained immense publicity for its innovative campaign while establishing its British credentials
It has been a year since Aldi became the first supermarket to sponsor an Olympic team when it agreed to support Team GB in its bid to make an impact at the Rio Olympics. What made it even more unusual – and definitely good news for the fresh produce industry – was the decision to promote fresh, local fruit and vegetables within the campaign.
One of the most innovative and eye-catching aspects of the campaign has been the use of advertisements combining fresh produce and the Olympic theme. These have been reprinted all over the world via the internet. One advert showed a group of athletes set against a Union flag with the blue and red sections made out blueberries and tomatoes respectively. Even more spectacular was the dramatic image of the Rio skyline, which was made entirely out of 30 types of fruit and vegetables. In total, more than 47kg of fruit and vegetables were needed. The great statue of Christ the Redeemer in the foreground alone required eight bananas, 200g of blueberries, eight yellow peppers, two plums and two bunches of red grapes.
Vegetable artist Prudence Staite had the task of creating this dramatic image. She says: “This was a really challenging brief to recreate such an iconic skyline that incorporates so many different elements – from the more intricate detail of the buildings to giving variation to the vast blue ocean. Thankfully, Aldi has a wealth of fresh fruit and vegetables meaning we could have a lot of fun creating the various colours and shades required.”
Linked with these big advertisements has been a steady campaign over the past year in which Aldi has worked closely with Team GB to provide help and assistance to the team. It has provided vouchers to more than 660 members of Team GB them to spend £25 of vouchers a week each in store in order to ensure they had access to fresh, affordable, British fruit and vegetables. Over the year that has led to the athletes spending over £100,000 in the stores. In addition, Aldi has supported Team GB’s healthy eating and cooking programme: Get Set to Eat Fresh alongside an extensive schools programme that has been encouraging children to learn to cook fresh food.
Team GB has been extremely active in working with Aldi throughout the campaign. The Aldi website has had a Homegrown Heroes campaign, highlighting the birthplaces of different athletes in relation to Aldi stores. There have been six team ambassadors involved in promotional activities: Jade Jones, Daniel Purvis, Liam Phillips, Samantha Murray, Nicola Adams and Jack Laugher, winning four medals between them at the Rio Olympics. In the build up to the games, Aldi published regular features about the different athletes and their food habits – always stressing their use of fresh food. Promotions featured Team GB athletes online, on TV and on branded trucks, thus raising awareness of fresh produce as being accessible to everyone. Meanwhile, Olympic stars such as former gymnast Beth Tweddle have taken part in opening ceremonies for new Aldi stores and the retailer’s website proudly pointed out “Supporting Great British talent is what Aldi is all about. We already champion quality British produce and British suppliers, and now we will be waving the flag in support of another team of homegrown heroes – the Great British sportsmen and women.”
Aldi’s Olympians from left to right: Jones, Purvis, Phillips, Murray, Adams and Laugher
As the Olympics progressed, the website added in recipes with a Rio theme such as Mardi Gras Mojito, Summer Garden Cake with layers of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Then there were the athletes’ favourite recipes such as Liam Philips’ Apple and Blueberry Pancakes or Nicola Adams’ Kiwi Orange & Pear Smoothie.
Even before the Rio Olympics had taken place, the success of the campaign had resulted in Aldi winning a Fresh Produce Consortium Fresh Award for the Prophet marketing campaign of the year. The judges comments said it all: “For championing GB’s Olympic team and encouraging healthy eating – a podium performance.”
Greg Bromley, senior analyst at Verdict Retail has been very impressed by Aldi’s sporting initiative. He says: “Sponsoring Team GB has been a savvy move in boosting the British-ness of the brand. When Aldi entered the market, it was seen as something of a ‘foreign’ brand, lacking the legacy and British credentials of its more established rivals. Boosting its British fruit and vegetable offer, and pairing with Team GB is definitely likely to prove of benefit in this regard. On a wider level, the impact of Team GB at the Olympics is likely to encourage many consumers to take up more sport and fitness and eat more healthy foods. Aldi’s promotion of its fruit and veg is therefore likely to see a boost.”
Aldi’s standing in the industry has already seen a boost – both through it signing up to the NFU Fruit & Veg Pledge, but also its commitment to making fresh fruit and vegetables more affordable through its Super 6 promotions. This Team GB sponsorship is likely to make its proposition more appealing to existing customers and help it to win more shoppers in the process.
It is a campaign that is set to continue – Aldi has already announced it is extending its sponsorship for another four years leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and a new TV advertising campaign highlighting its support for Team GB.
And it seems that opting for Team GB rather the GB’s national sport has been a wise move. Daniel Lucht, research director at Research Farm says: “Both Aldi and Lidl are quite big in fruit and vegetables already, and are well established players. Aldi has built on its Team GB links. It is clear that Aldi has backed a winner compared to Lidl’s sponsorship of football and football’s governing bodies in England, Scotland and Wales. Many of the advertisements have been quite innovative and quite funny which appeals to the British shopper. The humour has hit the right tone.”