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Meet me a the intersection of Madison Avenue and Aisle 12
  • April 27 2011

WHO I AM:  Candy Peterson, ECD
WHAT I DO: Matchmaker: Intro shoppers to brands
WHERE I WORK: Aisles everywhere, TL every day

My story is all about paths – in particular, exploring the consumer’s path to purchase and finding the best spot for my clients to live along that path.  First, a little perspective. I’m what the advertising world would refer to as a “classically trained brand creative” – someone who creates multi-media ad campaigns for global brands, complete with weeklong TV shoots in exotic locales, beautifully shot and art-directed magazine ads, engaging web experiences and radio spots featuring voice-overs from the latest “it” celebrities. In other words, Mad Men meets the 21st century as a Mad Woman – my original path.

I’m also what we in the marketing world refer to as a “Mom,” one of the most important brand targets. Yep, I have a six- and a four-year old, my built-in focus group. It doesn’t take much for me to relate to everyday scenarios like walking the store aisles, looking for that elusive combination of quality and value in the products I choose.


Which takes this Mad Woman to my new path as a shopper marketing specialist. For a girl who spent her career building brand loyalty for her clients, I was always fascinated by what happened when those consumers became shoppers – reaching for my client’s product then, at the last second, grabbing the competitor for some inexplicable reason.

This is when I began my affair with shopper marketing. And trust me, it wasn’t love at first sight. The creative briefs were so different.  They included not only our clients’ marketing objectives, but also those of the retailers that would sell my clients’ products. Things like calendar windows and themes established months in advance and “clean-store” policies that factored into my creative executions.

So what is a brand creative to do when faced with the challenges of shopper marketing? Simple: return to my roots. Despite how complicated shopper marketing might appear on the surface, the desired outcome is still the same as that of my brand assignments: engagement.

At TracyLocke, we have a wonderful discipline that makes this happen, one we call “Brand to Retail.” It’s a belief that building brand equity and overcoming shopper barriers can happen simultaneously.

Here’s one way I like to think of it: Imagine a retailer as the host of a party, and your brand is a guest. The last thing you want to do is insult the host, and in fact, it’s good to bring something to the party. For me, that would be a bottle of Napa Valley’s finest. For my client – an idea that enhances the host retailer’s objectives. 
In a way, that’s how I approach shopper marketing. I’ve found that the principles are the same as with traditional brand work but with an additional layer for the retailer. Where client and retailer objectives intersect is where we find joint value for both.

Take this pilot program for HP ink at Walmart. Both wanted to sell more ink and improve the overall shopping experience. As we all know, the ink aisle can be confusing, but even more so at a retailer like Walmart, where help in the aisle is limited. I mean, who can
remember their ink cartridge number? And if you do and it’s out of stock, who can help order it for you?

Out of the overlapping objectives, an insight was revealed: Shoppers aren’t reminded that they need ink until they are already in the store.  And, worse, they don’t have their ink number handy. See FIG. 1.

From there, an idea was born: Let’s use mobile technology to improve the shopping experience by developing an in-store assistant mobile website. See FIG. 2.

When creating ad campaigns, our ideas had to be more compelling, persuasive, powerful and, yes, engaging. I now do the same thing for my clients at the retailer’s shelf. With all the distractions there, we have to come to grips with the realities of shopper pain points and be more nimble and clever and offer more meaningful ways to engage the shopper at retail.

So can classic brand thinking coexist with shopper marketing thinking? I’m living proof that it can. I’ve learned that both disciplines start with the same brand truth and finish with a single brilliant idea – one that captures a shopper’s eye, a shopper’s imagination
and, ultimately, a shopper’s wallet.


CANDY PETERSON is Executive Creative Director at TracyLocke. She currently works on such brands as HP, T-Mobile and Nokia. She also likes wine (hence her analogy) and would gladly accept any variety should you like to send her some.

About the Sponsor

The Shopper Marketing Agency MARS is a haven for the brave. We have the drive and the daring of entrepreneurs and the expertise and swagger of industry veterans who have done this—and done this well—for 35 years.


Creating memorable experiences at Simon® malls is key to our success in establishing our competitive advantage. Our ability to deliver a customer who is engaged in more than just shopping — one who is also receptive to new ideas, brands, and experiences for their particular lifestyle — will differentiate our brands and the brands that choose to partner with us.

Simon Property Group

TraceyLocke is the brand-to-retail marketing agency that understands an import truth: The best way to create and grow great brands is to turn consumers into shoppers. 


Upshot is a Chicago-based marketing agency with about 160 people. Founded in 1994 and part of EMAK Worldwide (www.emak.com).

Upshot Marketing