Longs Focuses on Store Openings

A talking medicine bottle, cosmetic compact and film canister are the stars of a yearlong branding campaign for Longs Drugs now breaking throughout the West.

The $5 million effort from Pickett Advertising in San Francisco will roll out in markets where the drugstore chain is opening new locations in the coming year. Longs, based in Walnut Creek, Calif., is continually expanding its presence in Western markets and typically opens 25-50 new stores a year.

Accordingly, a new TV spot is designed to be used for any and all grand openings. The spot features talking household items courtesy of computer graphics by Will Vinton Studios in Portland, Ore.

“The idea was to bring an innovative touch to a store with down-home values,” agency president Jack Boland said, adding that the ad targets women 25-49.

The spot opens with the medicine bottle, compact and film case sitting on a countertop, arguing about how to prepare for an opening. As they debate how to get prepared, the compact says to the ornery bottle, “Don’t be such a pill.” The bottle replies, “I am.”

The end of the spot can be tailored to the particular store opening. The tagline remains: “Live happy. Live healthy. Live Longs.”

Mark Holz, the client’s director of advertising, said the single commercial was approved because locally produced spots for regional openings have not always been consistent and “didn’t present the brand the way we wanted it to be.”

“We wanted to make sure the quality was consistent and appropriate for every opening,” Holz said. “We wanted to focus on the store experience instead of the consumer. We can use [the graphics] to remind people about the three main categories of goods Longs offers.”

Holz said using animation also fits with the client’s personality. “This was different from stuff that’s out there,” he said. “Most of our shoppers think of us as friendly, and these characters have that feel to them. It adds some youthful energy.”

The spot will break two weeks before store openings and air until three or four days afterward.

The copywriter was Bob Dorfman, the art director Marc Marvin.

Longs spends roughly $20 million annually on advertising. Pickett’s other clients include 21st Century Insurance, the Oakland Raiders, MarketFusion and the Learning Network.