Why FreshDirect is investing in broadcast TV for the first time

FreshDirect is out with a campaign that posits the brand as a destination for busy consumers looking for value and convenience. It’s the first work from the grocery delivery brand’s partnership with Curiosity, which the brand selected as its first creative agency of record five months ago. The new push is also FreshDirect’s first foray into broadcast TV as it tries to raise brand awareness following a boost from COVID-19.

“The pandemic really gave us a lot of a kick in the butt to say there’s so much demand out there,” said John MacDonald, who was named FreshDirect’s chief marketing officer following the 2021 acquisition of 80% of the New York-based brand by grocery giant Ahold Delhaize. He notes that previous marketing “was really more about function and food than how to connect with customers and how to broadly go out a bit more so people outside of New York and the boroughs know who we are.”

The new work aims to build that identity. One 30-second spot shows two roommates divvying up the weekly grocery shopping—that commercial targets existing “foodie” type customers who hunger for the ease of getting their New York culinary favorites delivered. A second 30-second commercial is designed to attract a new customer—someone who is so busy they need the convenience FreshDirect’s delivery service provides. That spot showcases a mom and her very hungry young daughter.

To message some of these newer customers and go as wide as possible, FreshDirect is investing in broadcast TV. Spots, either full-length or cut down to shorter segments, will run on regional TV and also on connected TV. Tombras handled media buying.

While the campaign is “significant” in budget, according to MacDonald, it’s on par with some of the brand’s previous efforts. However, dollars that would have gone to digital acquisition like promotion codes and performance marketing are now going toward brand building with TV, he said. This marks FreshDirect’s largest investment into media.

The company is battling competitors such as Whole Foods, which offers delivery to Amazon Prime members, and Instacart. The latter last week rolled out its biggest brand campaign yet, a splashy spot featuring Lizzo that aims to attract younger customers. In New York, FreshDirect’s hometown, Instacart has 45% of online grocery sales, more than double that of FreshDirect, according to a 2021 article from Bloomberg that cited an Earnest Research study.

FreshDirect also has to contend with rising food prices and the prospect that some price-conscious consumers may shy away from delivery fees in order to a dollar. MacDonald said that he expects most customers to pay for a reliable delivery service and that shoppers may be more likely to cook from home than to dine out as they try to save. To entice such a group, FreshDirect is ramping up its digital marketing content by featuring more prepared meals and recipe content on social media. The company recently introduced a video series showcasing its sourcing partners.

The brand is going to be showing you these quality ingredients and how to put them together,” said MacDonald, noting that FreshDirect will feature distinct marketing copy around the word “value.” Early next year, it will debut a new brand strategy around purpose as it continues to work with Curiosity.