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Loblaws- Galen Weston Jr.

Anyone else find the current advertising campaign a bit distasteful? It seems to revolve around frightening people abut the economic outlook, which will only make a bad situation worse...

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  1. it is not as distasteful as Scotiabank's "you're richer than you think" (NOT)

    1. I admit I find it disconcerting.

      1. Hey everybody, I'm sure Galen's portfolio is waaay down! He shares your pain.

        2 Replies
        1. re: childofthestorm

          Yes, I heard that he now shops at No Frills (pushing his own cart, even) and buys PC products exclusively. For his own consumption!

          1. re: tjr

            A family worth over 7 billion and he eats PC, nice! I don't find the commercials as distasteful as some might find their mascot for selling Asian products in their flyers.
            http://www.loblaws.ca/en/thisWeeksFly... Last 2 pages

        2. Distasteful? Why? Don't forget Loblaws is a business. It's no different than an Acura dealer, or clothes retailers advertising sales. All they're doing is underscoring what's in the media and what everyone seems to be talking about lately. Frightening people might be a bit of a stretch. All he's done is show one cart with No Name and the other with brand names - obviously the No Name brands are cheaper. Who doesn't already know that? Incidentally, Galen can advertise No Name products all he wants, but I don't think I'd ever pick one up and buy it. In my mind, it conjures up "cheap" and "inferior quality". But that's just me.

          But I don't find anything wrong with what they're doing. I've also never received a Holt Renfrew (to keep it in the family) e-mail alerting me to 70% off, either in the past!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Raquel

            "All they're doing is underscoring what's in the media and what everyone seems to be talking about lately. Frightening people might be a bit of a stretch."

            It is entirely fearmongering, as is the media. The economic cycle currently is very vulnerable, more than most realise, and business leaders trying to capitalise on it are pretty reprehensible. "the only thing to fear is fear itself" etc.

            1. re: Raquel

              I disagree with a blanket condemnation of No Name products. Some are good, some are not; I generally buy a single can/box/bottle of the product, and try it. I don't find any difference between name brand frozen vegetables and their No Name equivalents, for example, nor do I taste any discernible difference when buying block cheese (cheddar, mozza, etc.) from Kraft or Black Diamond than No Name (artisan cheeses are different, but they're much more expensive as well). On the other hand, No Name ketchup is terrible, as are most of the canned soups. I bought No Name canned corn and a name brand, and did a taste test with my daughters a few years back; they couldn't tell the difference.

              And non-food items like plastic wrap, foil, foam plates/plastic cutlery? Can't see spending the 50% more than the No Name brands cost. However, I draw the line at No Name toilet paper; softness is a virtue!

              1. re: KevinB

                Mrs. Sippi thinks the NN garlic dills are the best store bought pickles she's ever had.


                1. re: Davwud

                  Tried them today. They were, in a word, disgusting. That shows me for trying a No Name product for the first time ever.....checked on the back to see where they're from and saw 'Product of India'. Yuck. No wonder they tasted like that, those poor pickles had to travel so far....

            2. Wow, looks like I lit some fires...

              Squeakycheese: Says you. I don't think it's "fearmongering" at all. It's called good marketing. And taking advantage of current events to sell your products. There's not one good business that's NOT doing it these days from Wal-Mart, to my local smaller independent stores. Or is it that it's ok to do it if you are smaller scale, but because Loblaws is so large, they shouldn't? Honest question to you.

              KevinB: In my opinion, they are horribly marketed and have horrible packaging. Maybe if they at least tried to make the packaging more attractive, I'd give it a shot. But it's good to know that some are "OK". And I guess I have to disagree with you about plastic wrap and foil. Cheap usually gives you cheap. Yes, you'll spend more for brand names, but they are in most cases, better quality. Especially plastic wrap. Can't stand the cheap versions that bunch up as soon as you try to tear...
              But I guess something good that's come out of the Loblaws/Galen commercials - especially in this economy - is that they guarantee the No Name products or your money back. Now, I might just take him up on that one....

              4 Replies
              1. re: Raquel

                I always thought the point of No Name (and all generic, for that matter) products was that there was virtually NO marketing, and NO money spent on packaging, so that the savings could be passed on to the consumer. As has been pointed out many times on CH and elsewhere, many generics are made on exactly the same lines as the branded products, using exactly the same ingredients.

                As for plastic wrap - do you seriously think that Dupont or whoever makes the generic wraps STOPS their production line, changes the formulation, and then produces an extra clingy variety for the generic market? The cost to do that would be enormous, and would negate the savings offered. (Oh, and by the way, I have a roll of Glad Press and Seal gathering dust on my refrigerator top because this premium priced brand was so EXTRA clingy I found it virtually impossible to work with.)

                1. re: KevinB

                  First, being "pointed out many times on CH and elsewhere" does not convince me that these are accurate assertions. Unless of course you have specific information you'd like to share? You'd be surprised what goes on behind the scenes in factories. If you take everything at face value or believe everything you hear, then that's your choice. I choose to be a bit more skeptical that companies take the same exact ingredients, but because they feel sorry for poorer consumers, that they take less profit margin on it. And for your comments on it being the point of NO marketing? What? Every single generic grocery store has tried to put their generic brands in every flyer I've seen. That's a form of marketing, in case you didn't know. And I can't think for the life of me why a grocery store would NOT want to package in anything attractive. Do they actually want these things to sit on their shelves and gather dust?

                  Second, no, I don't believe that Dupont or whoever STOPS their production line to change to a cheaper formula. Do you seriously think that Dupont has ONE production line? Have you not heard of SECONDARY production lines?

                  I'm speaking of MY experience. I've tried the generics in terms of paper/plastics with the hope that they would save me money. MY experience has been that they are virtually impossible to work with as they bunch together before I even get to wrap it around anywhere. Thus, I regret it everytime I try to save a couple pennies. And I've been thrilled with how beautifully my Glad plastic works.

                  Getting back to the original question, I think the No Name products are great as an alternative. I don't know how much this latest ad will convince non-generic buyers like myself to now purchase them, but at least those who need it know it's out there and know that Loblaws, while sometimes having an 'expensive' label on it, can be as economical as, say, a Food Basics.

                2. re: Raquel

                  Haha... It's the cheap line, so it has to look cheap. But that packaging is there on purpose. I'm sure lots of thought went into the design of the no name brand.

                  I really did enjoy it when long ago Loblaws was all screaming yellow and bold black Helvetica. In more recent years they started adding pictures to their products and Garamond italic in red.. and it just seemed weak. I remember very vividly being about 7 years old, and walking through the glowing yellow aisles of a Loblaws Superstore, shelves stacked high with giant yellow boxes. It was a very impressive sight.

                  1. re: mogo

                    You wouldn't happen to be a graphic designer, now would you? You seem to know alot about font type! Helvetica special on TVO recently, you should check it out!

                    Actually, they've done alot of research on it and yellow background with black lettering seemed to stand out the most, so I'm not sure who did it first, Canada, UK, US, but it became the 'go to' design for no name products around the world. And still is in many spots.

                    I'm partial to Target's Archer Farms. I think they are THE BEST grocery store brand anywhere. Second is President's Choice for me.

                3. With the forced closing of the Dupont store I think G2 has more on his mind than hte (I agree) distasteful NN campaign. I felt I was under assault the first time I walked into the store and all I could see was that horrible yellow & black packaging everywhere. I'm done with Loblaws. Fiesta Farms rocks.

                  1. I actually thought the new No Name commercial with the bit about "no proofreadng" was funny, though the commercials are a bit ironic (in that advertising them on TV certainly means there is a large advertising budget for No Name products, and an ad company behind it thinking up ideas).

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: tjr

                      Good point on the advertising!

                      I noticed Metro is also trying to push their house brands as well through in-store signage.


                      1. re: wontonfm

                        I think all grocery stores have always advertised or emphasized their "house brand" items - it's just I think more are starting to notice because of the economy and actually giving them a try. While the stores like brand name items because they can charge more for them, and still also receive co-op funding from the supplier, I think they love their house brands even more because of the great margins make on them.

                        I do think it's interesting that occasionally the food writers will do taste tests on certain products and include the house brands in there, and sometimes they actually win. I remember seeing Master Choice win some in the past, but still that's never made me try them.....

                        1. re: Raquel

                          Just for interests sake, I had a talk with my brother about house brands when I went back to the UK at Christmas... he works for Proctor and Gamble... they do no 3rd party work, and actually spend a lot of time working out how to f$%k over the makers of private label goods... e.g. having their own low priced brands, introducing new delivery methods like tablet form, which means the generic guys have to retool to meet the supermarkets need for a "me too" product, costing them a fortune (one generic company in the UK went bust recently). also their vastly superior purchasing power means they could undercut them if they desired, but that would sacrifice their brand.

                          Also, I think Dupont just makes the commodity that someone else turns into clingfilm?

                          1. re: Squeakycheese

                            While there is a kernel of truth in your brother's comments, he isn't really correct. His bias is quite obvious. P&G may very well try to screw competitors over. However, they would likely pay more attention to brand name product manufacturers than to "neutral" private label producers (which P&G can, and sometimes does, use to produce things for themselves).

                            The best example, from the UK itself, is Marks and Spencer's. Everything they sell is their private label. Many of their products are innovative and unique and many "me too" products from Marks and Sparks are the best you can buy.

                            Canada's President's Choice products, originally modeled after the Marks and Spencer "St Michael" brand's marketing plan, are often the best in their product categories. Many are unique in the marketplace. Some of the PC "me too" products aren't as good as their brand name exemplar, but many more are much better than anything else. Some of the PC products (for example, the ice creams) are made by a brand name producer and are different from, and usually much better than, the brand name producer's own products.

                            Advertising No-Name represents a perversion of the idea. No-Name products were intended to be the cheapest available. The producers and, where applicable, the recipes, are subject to change at any time. The absence of any advertising provides major cost savings. Given current economic realities, I'd imagine that advertising these makes sense given Loblaw's (not completely justified) high price image.

                            My understanding of the US grocery market is that brands such as St Michael and President's Choice don't exist on any major scale. To most US grocers, house brands have generally been inferior "me too" products with a higher profit margin. However, this is not the case in either the UK or Canada.

                            1. re: embee

                              >>My understanding of the US grocery market is that brands such as St Michael and President's Choice don't exist on any major scale.<<

                              At one point, PC items were sold at a number of US supermarkets, one being Schnuck's in St. Louis. However, at the current time, they don't seem to have a presence in the US.

                            2. re: Squeakycheese

                              This info on P&G is totally untrue for one of the biggest categories: detergents. They recently bought the maker of Kirkland house brand detergents, located in the southwest, and at the same time closed their fabled Columbus Ohio Tide detergent plant. The Tide plant closure included an announcement that P&G was concentrating more on marketing than manufacturing.
                              Now Tide and Kirkland can come from the same plant. And the packaging looks the same.

                              1. re: Squeakycheese

                                Proctor and Gamble has outsourced much of their manufacturing to third parties over the past twenty years. And in a number of categories, the companies that produce the more expensive P&G brands also produce the WalMart brand, the Kroger brand, etc. What P&G is these days is a marketing company.

                                In my young days, being from a P&G family, we only used P&G brands. These days, we evaluate ALL brands to determine which brand is the best available and the best value. And Crest is probably the ONLY P&G brand you'll find in my house.

                        2. WOW.

                          I just thought it was a commercial that was trying to get me to buy their products. Just like any other. It's just a commercial.


                          1. Ahem: the campaign is for PC, not "Loblaws." We don't have Loblaws in Alberta but do have RC Superstore and have the whole PC/No Name/Ziggy's lines.

                            No problem with the ads, really.

                            1. Can't remember who was trumpeting the No Name products as being just as good if not better than brand names, but in Loblaw's today, took a look, just for curiousity's sake, at the ingredients list of the No Name peanut butter they had on sale: Fresh roasted peanuts, Icing Sugar, Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Oil. I stopped reading after that. Now, I defy ANYONE to tell me that that's a good product. I mean for the first time I could actually understand what these reports have been about lately about those on a fixed income having to eat cheaply, but healthy. You think you're buying your kid something nutritious like peanut butter, only to find icing sugar as the second ingredient. That's just wrong.

                              And just to clarify, President's Choice products are DIFFERENT than No Name, both in price, and definitely in quality.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Raquel

                                But how does that ingredient list compare to that of Kraft or other brands. I couldn't find Kraft ingredients on line, but the second ingredient in Jif is Sugar. It's not like we can compare the NN to the healthier All Natural varieties; they don't claim it is peanuts only any more that Kraft Smooth claims to be peanuts only. And how does it compare in taste to the national brand. I don't know, I have never bought it.

                                I'm not saying it is a good or bad product, just that you said you were responding to people touting NN as good or better than brand names and you didn't give any brand name information to compare it to.

                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                  Fair enough. I have a Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter and took a look: Select roasted peanuts, soybean oil, maltodextrin (yum), sugar, hydrogenated veg oil...and again, I will stop reading, but there is definitely no "icing sugar".

                                  I'm suggesting that this No Name product of peanut butter is inferior to a "regular" brand and off the scales bad compared to the PC 'Just Peanuts' brand I usually buy. I occasionally buy Kraft when I see it on sale, but after now going through the ingredients, I don't think so much anymore.

                                  1. re: Raquel

                                    I got curious after reading these posts and did a brief survey of the peanut butters on the shelf at Loblaws. The result, to say the least, was interesting. I didn't take notes, so forgive any specific errors in this post, but you'll get the idea even if my fading brain lost a few specifics.

                                    I don't use the "all natural" peanut butters. Dealing with the oil separation is a hassle when I just want to grab a spoonful or smear some on bread. The texture is "difficult" in some recipes. Also, I don't think most of these taste very good. When I want unsullied peanuts in a recipe, I chop or grind some peanuts. It's actually quicker and easier than stirring the separated oil in a "just peanuts" peanut butter.

                                    For general snacking and recipe use, I prefer the taste and texture of the brands that contain additional ingredients. Of the peanut butters currently sold in Toronto, my personal favourite is Skippy chunk. It is not terribly sweet compared with most other mainstream brands. ("Too sweet" is a turnoff for me.) Yet it does contain icing sugar, among other things.

                                    The nutritional labeling on peanut butter seems consistent from brand to brand. All use 1 Tbsp as their standard serving. All servings contain 90-100 calories.

                                    What I found most interesting is that every peanut butter on the shelf except for one, Kraft unsweetened, contains 1 g of sugar per serving. Whether the peanut butter in question (of those I've actually tasted) was sweet or savoury on the palate, it had 1g of sugar per serving. PC Just Peanuts, with no added sweeteners, contains 1g/serving, as do peanut butters with up to four different sweeteners added. The Blue Menu peanut butters contain 1g of sugar.

                                    I gleaned some additional information tidbits from the kosher certifications on the various labels. These can provide clues about manufacturers when such information is missing from the label. For example, the No Name peanut butters and the PC Organics peanut butter are made in the same plant (probably, though not necessarily, in Ontario) while the PC Just Peanuts products appear to be made in BC.

                                    It was also interesting to see that, as of today, the PC Just Peanuts and the entire Kraft peanut butter line were quite a bit cheaper than No Name.

                                    1. re: embee

                                      Nice reporting, embee! Interesting stuff.

                                      I guess for me, it comes down to the specific type of sugar. As in, I'd rather eat granulated sugar, versus icing sugar. I've always heard that icing sugar has some cornstarch in it to prevent caking - not that there's anything wrong with cornstarch, it's just....why eat it in peanut butter? Again, for me, it's like eating 1 Tbsp of bacon fat versus 1 Tbsp of olive oil - both are fats, obviously, one is better for you; and truth be told, if I'm going to eat a Tbsp of bacon fat, it will be WITH the bacon!

                                      And, I totally agree with you about the texture of the 'Just Peanuts' being a bit annoying. That's why I keep a jar of Kraft on hand for quicker spreading needs. The PC one is usually used in baking, shakes, and hot oatmeal.

                                      But I gotta say, in no time in my life have I read labels the way I do now. Partly because of all those food scares we hear of, and partly for health reasons, I just am so much more careful about ingredients, and their effects than I've ever been. What a sad state of food affairs.

                                      1. re: Raquel

                                        For whatever reason, the Canadian media have not been reporting extensively on the peanut product recall situation now underway.

                                        I looked it up and was staggered at the track record of the implicated processor. Even more staggering was their apparent reach.

                                        Their customers seem to include both enormous global corporations making name brand products and the producers of "organic", "natural" and "health" foods. Amazing.

                              2. I am in the loblaws grocery business, I don't want to say excatly how, but I have met Galen Weston jr, and I have to tell you that he is a very down to earth man. He is genuine and not in the lest bit snobby. It is just business. As for the noname products, I agree some are better than others. But the majority of the noname products are made buy a well known company. F|or example the jam is made by ED smith. The packaging looks cheap for a reason, it cost less. You save money, simple. Just try the product first and then make a decision, don't let the packaging and name be your only reason for not trying it.

                                1. yup, I work at an RCSS, and blow raspberries at the commercials because I have firsthand knowledge of how staff are treated at the store. those pretty commercials must cost a "pretty penny", too. money that seems to be gotten in part by cutting our working hours but expecting the same level of productivity (or higher, gotta do more with less time, don't you know). quality of food/other merchandise (including the JOE FRESH stuff) doesnt always match the buildup in the commercials either.