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Aldi: 2014 IPA Effectiveness Awards Shortlist Interview

In its 'Swap and Save' campaign, the discount retailer invited UK and Irish shoppers to save money by moving their regular shop to Aldi, incorporating consumer testimonials into its ads. It delivered a profit ROI of 4.72:1 in the UK and 8:1 in Ireland.


Q1. When and why did you decide to launch a campaign? 

EK: “We had run our ‘Like Brands’ (IPA Gold, 2012) on TV which featured one product at a time, and ‘Swap & Save’ in Press which highlighted a limited number of products. We knew from these that the savings consumers enjoyed by shopping with us averaged around 30%.

“We felt it would be a strong message to show how much consumers could save on their full shop versus their normal supermarket by getting some shoppers to do a comparative exercise. One shop wouldn’t be representative as people buy ‘stock up’ items throughout the month, so a month or four-week shop would be a better demonstration of the ‘real saving’ to the consumer.

“This message would resonate most strongly at the beginning of the year.”

Q2. How did you feel about the original brief? 

BI: “The task in hand was hard: how to ensure Aldi ‘owned’ value at a time when all the supermarkets were claiming it. It was such a generic claim that it had become ‘noise’ to consumers. Consequently, we felt we should not just talk about value but prove it.

“Initially, we approached this as a research project. Aldi doesn’t do price promotions in the way other supermarkets do but we were sure we were cheaper overall. To prove that hypothesis, we had four families shop at the usual supermarket over a month and then to do the same shop at Aldi. The financial savings they made were startling and we knew consumers would find them compelling. From that ‘experiment’ we developed the idea of the ‘Swap and Save Challenge’.”

EK: “The original brief to the agency was to start the research exercise first and then develop the concept around this. We felt strongly that the savings would be made by all participants to back up the campaign. It was also clear that the advert needed to be delivered by the participants who took part in the challenge.”

Q3. How hard was it to get the campaign signed off?

BI: “The client was onboard with a creative idea that focussed on a value proposition for Aldi. The desire to ‘prove our value’ had come from the client.

“There was a desire to let hard pressed families know there was, and is, an alternative to the big supermarkets to help manage your family budget. Don’t cut back on what you buy at your usual supermarket to make ends meet, swap supermarkets instead!”

EK: “Advertising presented the concept internally in September, and the idea of demonstrating the savings between a consumer’s regular supermarket and Aldi was accepted immediately. A more detailed presentation took place to senior management in late 2012.

“When the creative was being developed, there were concerns internally about the fact we didn’t show any specific products or prices (a first for Aldi TV advertising). However, once we started to receive the data on the savings that were being made by our shoppers, it was clear that the message would be a strong one.”

Q4. When and how did you first know that you had been successful?

EK: “Aldi’s market share traditionally dips in the weeks around Christmas. However, in 2013 our share recovered to pre-Christmas levels in the first week the new Swap & Save Challenge aired on TV in February, and it continued to rise steadily throughout the year thereafter. It also had an immediate positive impact on sales.”

BI: “We had a pretty clear cause and effect in the year on year uplift in sales. The campaign aired on TV in February 2013 for the first burst and we had a 29% sales increase. However, when it was run again in May and August sales were up 41% and 43% respectively. This was then confirmed by Kantar data that showed a 30.7% year on year increase in our share of total retailer value in the 12 weeks to March 2013.”

Q5. What was the biggest challenge in demonstrating the effectiveness of your work?

EK: “Stripping out growth from store openings in 2013 versus growth that was generated by the 'Swap and Save' creative. Ohal, the econometrics company, was able to factor this into ROI calculations but we had a strong inkling that the Aldi creative was a key contributor to growth as Lidl was achieving half the level of success with more stores and comparable store expansion.”

Q6. How did this campaign compare to previous campaigns by the brand and competitors?

EK: “While various consumer agencies and press titles had run comparative shopping baskets, nobody else was showing the savings of a full shop versus other supermarkets. Furthermore, nobody was using real shoppers to communicate a value message.”

BI: “Econometrics has shown that the 'Swap and Save' Campaign has been the most effective at generating sales for Aldi in both the UK and Ireland. And to put this into perspective, it is being benchmarked against the previous ‘Like brands’ campaign.”

Q7. What lessons did this campaign teach you?

BI: “That in this complex world of multimedia and knowing self awareness, not to underestimate the power of word of mouth.

“We had contrived the situation and given them a mass media platform but essentially it was ordinary people talking about the real savings they had made and consumers responded to that authentic first hand testimony.”

EK: “That a value message based on real experience and communicated by real people is very powerful to consumers.”

Q8. What were the low points/high points of this campaign?

BI: “One of the high points is that we have just completed a Swap and Save reunion whereby we got the people who took part in the challenge and went back to see if they still shopped in Aldi. And although we hoped they had, we were still amazed when all of them did and were happy to be on camera again to talk about it for a new campaign.

“The Swap and Savers feel like a community who would never have known each other except for this campaign. They keep in touch, to let us know if they have had a baby, what they put the money they saved towards etc… Overall, although logistically hard to co-ordinate, the campaign has been rewarding on a personal level.”

EK: “High points include seeing the clear impact the campaign has had on our market share and sales, and seeing the campaign implemented in the UK and further to that, Australia, as a result of the success in Ireland.

“Another high point was revisiting the original shoppers from our first campaigns and discovering that not only did they enjoy the savings at the time, but they love the Aldi experience so much that they are still shopping with us.”

Q9. What would you do differently if you did this campaign over again?

BI: “Thought of it sooner!”

EK: “Due to the nature of the adverts, which involved real people communicating their experience to other consumers, a stronger social media integration harnessing the sharing element of the Swap & Save experience between shoppers would have benefited the campaign strongly.”

Q10. If you could have worked on one, other IPA award-winning campaign over the years which would it be, and why?

BI: “Picking a competitor may be controversial but one of the best in class examples, especially in terms of grocery retail is Tesco, and ‘Every little helps’.

“It has become so entrenched in the UK psyche that it’s hard to imagine it not existing. However, for years the whole shopping experience was packaged up in the elegant simplicity of the tag line and ‘Dotty’ Tesco grew at phenomenal rates. The flexibility of it was genius as it could be used to talk about any aspect Tesco wished to communicate from saving money to the size of the parking bays.

“I tip my hat to Lowe Lintas and the team that created it.”

Last updated 23/09/2014

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