Maxi makes a splash with new campaign

New ads designed to improve misconceptions about freshness and food offering of Loblaw's no-frills Quebec banner

A new ad campaign aimed at improving public perception of some areas of Loblaw discount-banner Maxi has gotten off to a roaring start in la belle province.

The year-long campaign kicked off Sunday night with a commercial that aired simultaneously on Quebec's three major TV stations and 18 specialty channels at 8 p.m.

The one-minute ad features Martin Matte, one of Quebec's hottest stand-up comics and TV actors.

Posted on Maxi's Facebook page, the ad has already been viewed nearly 3 million times.

"It's gone viral," Johanne Héroux, Maxi's director of corporate affairs and communications, told Canadian Grocer on Wednesday.  "We couldn't be happier.  Public reaction has been amazing and overwhelmingly positive."

According to Héroux, the campaign is designed to both reaffirm Maxi's standing as Quebec's No. 1 discount food store and improve what she calls "misconceptions" about the freshness and availability of the chain's food offering.

"We have a very solid customer base in Quebec," said Héroux. "This campaign targets potential new customers by addressing some issues."

Those issues were detected in annual consumer surveys that Maxi commissions from major firms like Léger and Ipsos.

"The results show that we are very well known for our lower prices," said Héroux.  "But we decided that we wanted to address some aspects of our stores that are maybe less understood and appreciated."

In addition to the campaign's focus on freshness and availability, she said Maxi is also investing in personnel training aimed at improving customer service, particularly in the aisles and at the check out counter.

Héroux said Matte was the perfect choice for the campaign because he is both popular and credible in Quebec.

"He is such a strong figure," said Héroux.

Another appealing factor, she added, is Matte's trademark shtick as a haughty, sarcastic yuppie who is condemned to strive for excellence in a world peopled by fools.

That comic routine is on full display in the ad, which features the bald-headed Matte alternatively talking up the freshness and abundance of Maxi's food offering while being derisive and facetious with customers and products as he walks through a well-stocked Maxi store.

READ: Maxi celebrates 30 years

At one point he picks up a tomato and asks while looking at the camera, "Have you ever seen such a ripe apple?"

He then bites into the tomato, which explodes in slow motion.

Héroux refused to put a cost figure on the campaign, which is the company's first in a decade.

She said the last major marketing initiative focused on Maxi's low prices.

Since then, the company has relied almost exclusively on flyers to communicate with customers.

Héroux also refused to disclose details about upcoming activities in the campaign, which will run through 2017.

She did say however that Matte will be featured in more ads.

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