D'Agostino Managers Go Wild | Adweek D'Agostino Managers Go Wild | Adweek
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D'Agostino Managers Go Wild

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Grocery stores usually turn to circulars and in-store advertising to promote weekly shopping deals, but D’Agostino—a family-owned, New York grocery chain—is taking it one step further with a campaign called “Managers Gone Wild!”

D’Agostino store managers are the stars of the ads, which promote a one-week bargain sale at its stores. It shows the impact the sales event, which runs through Oct. 13, has had on its managers. A radio spot now running, for instance, has the announcer proclaiming that “responsible senior managers are acting like you’ve never seen before . . . They’re in charge and out of control.”

This is the first big ad campaign for D’Agostino, since it pulled back from TV advertising 10 years ago. It also comes as the company seeks to bolster its image as a neighborhood- and service-friendly grocery store among its target affluent consumers. D’Agostino faces competition from rivals like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market, as shoppers scale back to cheaper shopping destinations in a recession.

“Value is not only price. It is the quality of our product. It’s also the availability [of our stores],” said marketing director Anderson Chung. He added that because of the neighborhood-centric locations, consumers often stop by a D’Agostino on the way home, while trips to supermarkets and other grocery store chains might be planned in advance.

In highlighting its employee workforce, too, D’Agostino is putting a “human face” on the brand, Chung said. The campaign plays up the chain’s founding roots. D’Agostino was founded by two Italian immigrant teenagers, Nick and Pasquale D’Agostino, who opened their first location at Lexington Avenue and 83rd Street in 1932.

The campaign also spans print and online, with ads running in the New York Post, Metro, and community newspapers like The Journal News and the Lewisboro Ledger, a weekly distributed in Lewisboro and Katonah, N.Y. D’Agostino  did not disclose the campaign’s cost, but said that it is “significant.”

Tod Seisser, a principal at New York agency Grok, which created the campaign, said the effort aims to make “a little bit of noise” on behalf of the brand. “It gives [consumers] an extra, added incentive to come in [besides] what they’re coming in for now,” he said. “You’re not walking into some market owned by a faceless corporation . . . These are guys who live, eat and breathe the supermarket business,” he said of the real-life employees featured in the campaign.

Phil Lempert, an industry tracker who calls himself the "supermarket guru," said D’Agostino has managed to advertise its value without cheapening the brand. By running the promotion for one week, D’Agostino makes it clear that it’s just “an event, versus lowering prices to compete,” Lempert said. (The advertising talks about what prices are right now, and there is no mention of what they were before.)