A Grandfather Takes On Holiday Cooking in Sweet Kroger Ad

The campaign will be 'bigger than ever before'

As the temperature drops and holiday season approaches, Kroger is preparing to unveil a campaign meant to make people feel warm inside.

Titled “Today’s Holiday Moments Are Tomorrow’s Memories,” the minute-long spot centers on an older man who comes across his late wife’s cookbook. As he creates some of the dishes, he relives past events. The commercial ends with the man enjoying a meal with his family.

The spot involves no dialogue. The only sound viewers hear is a revision of the Goo Goo Dolls’ 1998 hit song “Iris” performed by Grammy-winning artist Colbie Caillat.

Emily Hartmann, Kroger’s senior director of brand marketing, said the sentimental marketing push is a divergence from past holiday seasons when the retailer tended to rely on promotions and product-focused messaging.

“We wanted to hit on some of the insights we were hearing from our customers, including that this year is the year they feel they’re finally getting together,” explained Hartmann. “In spite of some of the challenges they face, creating holiday memories with food is where they’re unwilling to compromise.”

The national campaign, created in partnership with production company Hornet and creative agency DDB New York, is set to debut Oct. 26. It will appear during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and across multiple channels such as digital, television, social media and owned properties.

Mat Bisher, chief creative officer at DDB New York, described the assignment to make an emotional ad as a “dream brief,” but also one that comes with its own set of challenges.

“As you dig into it, you have to make sure you’re not going overly cheesy or overly sentimental,” Bisher said. “It’s just a matter of writing and writing and writing. I think we probably went through 50 to 100 different scripts.”

Kroger’s latest campaign involves animated characters known as Krojis, which DDB New York helped introduce in 2019. Hartmann claimed the characters have worked well for Kroger, becoming as recognizable as the brand’s logo.

Hartmann declined to disclose specifics on media spend, but implied the strategy is to reach a sizable number of shoppers.

“We are definitely doing it bigger than ever before in terms of an all-encompassing integrated campaign across as many touch points for our customers as we were able to get to,” she said.

A future giant?

Recently, the Kroger Company announced plans to acquire rival Albertsons Companies. Together, the two grocers operate nearly 5,000 stores and generate more than $200 billion in annual revenue.

A Kroger-Albertsons merger would create a major player in the U.S. retail media industry, which is expected to reach $61 billion by 2024, according to market research firm Insider Intelligence. That’s up from nearly $41 billion this year.