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Galen Weston asks for customer feedback with #HeyPC campaign

New Loblaw advertising encourages shoppers to share their stories — good and bad — across social media channels
Galen Weston standing in a PC test kitchen

Loblaw started the new year with a new marketing program for President’s Choice that asks customers to share their feedback and stories—good and bad—about the brand using the hashtag #HeyPC.

The campaign was launched with the return of Loblaw chairman and CEO Galen Weston as pitchman, starring in a new TV ad in which he introduces the effort. In the ad, Weston shares some wide-ranging examples of personal feedback from PC customers about everything from vegetarianism and no-fee banking, to plastic packaging and yuzu cheesecake.

“All these people shared their PC stories with us,” says Weston to close the commercial. “If you’ve got a suggestion, a complaint, whatever, let us know, because that is how we make things better.”

The impetus for the campaign was the personal notes Weston started to send PC Optimum members at the start of the pandemic, said Meghan Nameth, senior vice-president of marketing at Loblaw. After initially talking about how Loblaw was responding to the crisis, Weston expanded the focus to a range of different food topics. And in return, Loblaw got back more than 15,000 responses from customers.

“And we continue to see such passion from our customers,” said Nameth. “We know that customers love to share their stories and experiences with us, and we really wanted to shine a light on it.”

Loblaw is looking for interaction with customers on the major social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

Community managers at Loblaw are interacting where they can in meaningful ways, and suggestions and comments from customers will be reviewed for ways Loblaw can improve its PC products and the customer experiences.

Nameth declined to say how long the campaign would last, but said #HeyPC would be a cornerstone of President’s Choice marketing: “We really are planning this to be an ongoing conversation with Canadians and so you'll definitely see more,” she said.

While there are many different ways to gather customer feedback, doing this on social media for everyone to see, is beneficial to the brand because it lets customers feel like they are part of a conversation with other customers, said Nameth. “Rather than us tell our story from our perspective, it’s certainly better for consumers to tell the story of the brand and the impact it’s had on their lives,” she said.

However, doing it on social media also means the brand opens itself up to people who want to use the hashtag not to make food suggestions or air honest complaints about a store visit, but to voice their anger about larger topics. Indeed, in the first few days more than a few people, particularly on Twitter, used #HeyPC to complain about, for example, the low pay for Loblaw employees.

“Social can be interesting in that way,” said Nameth. And whether they asked for it or not, those kinds of complaints will still be on social media. Loblaw is willing to take those kinds of complaints as the inevitable cost of engaging with many more of its customers in a constructive way, she said, adding that they expect the negative, angry posts to be far outnumbered by that more earnest engagement.

“My experience on social with any brand has been that a lot of times your biggest advocates speak out on your behalf because they don’t feel the same way,” said Nameth. And creating a platform for all voices to be heard has value for the brand in terms of being transparent and authentic with its customers, she said.

“Yes, I hope this doesn’t sort of go down a place where people are overly negative, but you know, it is important for us to be transparent about the feedback we’re receiving, and then what we’re doing about it.”

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