Want Fresh Produce? This Agency Helped a Grocer Grow Food Right in the Store

Zona Sul's green gimmick

As if self-checkout and bagging our own groceries at the supermarket weren't humiliating enough, now we're expected to harvest our own vegetables in the produce section! 

Supermarket chain Zona Sul recently transformed shelves at its Rio de Janeiro-based flagship store into vegetable gardens, encouraging customers to dig into the soil to pick lettuce, basil, peppers and scallions. 

"We mainly wanted to reach Zona Sul customers who shop for vegetables in other locations, such as street markets or vegetable-specific stores," Fábio Onofre, creative director at agency WMcCann Rio, tells AdFreak. "Those are the customers that still think they can find fresher food elsewhere. This way, we could truly show them that at Zona Sul, everything is really, really fresh."

At first, some shoppers were unsure how to react, "thinking it was just a special display that shouldn't be touched, but they eventually came around and picked what they wanted," Onofre says. 

Leveraging word of mouth and free media, the stunt, which took place in April, helped the store in Rio's Barra da Tijuca neighborhood enjoy a 30 percent uptick in customer preference—and a nearly 20 percent surge in vegetable sales in recent weeks. Now there are plans to expand the concept to other locations. 

"There was this senior lady who enjoyed it very much and said it reminded her of when she was young and had her own veggie garden before moving to the city," Onofre says. "Nowadays, it's harder and harder for people to have that experience, so it was great seeing people getting their food straight from the earth for the first time."

Fair enough. But if they ever make us fish in wading pools or slaughter cows in the aisles, it’s time to head for Whole Foods.

CREDITS

Client: Zona Sul
Agency: WMcCann
CCO: Washington Olivetto
Creative VP: Guime Davidson
Creative Director: Fábio Onofre, Nicolás Romanó
Creatives: Gabriel Gil, Bruno Mukai
Account service: Gabriela Arroyo, Suzana Machado, Isabela Fogaça and Gustavo Tupinambá
Production VP: Marcelo Hack
Graphic Production: Reginaldo Barbosa
Designer: Bruno Mukai
Project Manager: Karina Rios
Client approval: Alexandre Alves