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Why Food Basics is celebrating 'Wowza' again

Metro's discount banner returns to advertising with a celebratory tone
A man standing in the produce section of a Food Basics store shopping the Wowza sale

Since launching in 2018, Food Basics’ “Wowza” has become the biggest sales event of the year for the Metro-owned discount banner. As the calendar flipped from 2019 to 2020, Food Basics was preparing a new ad campaign to promote Wowza. Then COVID hit.

The intent of Wowza is to show customers they can get the most popular food brands at great prices, said Carla Costa, director, Metro marketing and pharmacy. Food Basics treats it as a “time to celebrate,” she said, and the new ad was meant to feel celebratory.

The commercial featured a shopper so impressed by the “Wowza” savings that he dances comically around the store to “The Time of My Life” (made famous as the theme song to Dirty Dancing) while bemused and confused customers look on.

But once the pandemic hit, it didn’t feel like a time to celebrate and it certainly wasn’t the “time of my life” for anyone. The ad ran once before Food Basics pulled it from air.

“We obviously couldn't use that spot anymore,” said Costa. “We had to tweak things and really pivot and adjust the way that we communicate to customers.”

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Food Basics execs talked about pausing Wowza altogether, but decided that wouldn’t be right. “We didn't want our customers to suffer because of COVID,” she said.

The messaging couldn’t be about celebrating a deal, it had to be about what was going on in the world and reminding consumers that it was safe to shop at Food Basics stores, she said. “We wanted to ensure that we were still communicating to them to really let them know that ‘hey, we're here for you.’”

But that was 2020 and now it’s 2022. COVID still (obviously) remains a source of concern, but people are eager to look beyond the pandemic and want to be more optimistic again. Which is why Food Basics brought the “Time of My Life” ad down off the shelf and back on air.

It feels like it’s okay to be a little more celebratory again, said Costa. “We felt that it was the right time to bring out a more lively spot than a boring ‘Shop safely come into our stores, everything is going to be okay.”

“It is a time where customers are feeling more comfortable coming into our stores, and it was a way to really celebrate that things are normalizing a little bit.”

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