Kroger has already leveraged displays on Volta charging stations at select U.S. locations, enabing purchase-adjacent large-format digital ads already credited with boosting sales for many CPG advertisers. (Image credit: Volta)
To catch the attention of customers en route to pick up milk or any other grocery item, The Kroger Co. is reimagining how to use digital out of home (DOOH) to drive consumers to its stores which now are approaching 64% of U.S. geographic markets. DOOH could be key, as the supermarket consortium seeks a way to balance local appeal with national media.
The expansion spurred Tom Duncan, VP and head of marketing, and Kay Vizon, director of integrated media at Cincinnati-based Kroger, to pose questions at a recent Digital Place-based Advertising Association (DPAA) member meeting in June at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity on how the company can continue to deliver “more personalized, locally relevant creative for our more than 20 owned brands, but in a high-reach way.” The trade association is focused on educating and boosting awareness of DOOH, which increasingly intersects with retail media, so attendees were more than happy to offer ideas.
François de Gaspé Beaubien, chairman of Montreal-based programmatic DOOH company Hivestack, Gym TV and the DPAA, responded by highlighting the varied power of DPAA constituents: “I have sight, sound and motion, so you can repurpose TV spots ... and you’ve got members like GSTV and ScreenVision that can run video, too. With Lamar and Outfront Media and Captivate, you can run digital signage. ... Basically, your entire campaign can be a holistic approach, and everything can be targeted. The great advantage you have with our industry is that we can go as granular [or scaled] as you would you like to get.”
Kroger has leveraged displays on Volta charging stations at select U.S. locations, enabling purchase-adjacent large-format digital ads already credited with boosting sales for many CPG advertisers. (The EV service was recently acquired by the Shell Group in March, expanding the energy company’s own version of a “retail media network.”) Varied ingredients like these, especially in combination with Kroger’s stepped-up retail media arm, Kroger Precision Marketing, which the chain revealed in June would be brought fully in-house, add up to a successful recipe for awareness of the chain and performance at checkout for its many vendors.
For example, the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), aiming to update perceptions of the beverage and connect with a broader swath of consumers, is finding that DOOH provides flexibility and precision. Yin Woon Rani, CEO of Washington, D.C.-based MilkPEP, and Geoff Edwards, executive creative director at the organization’s agency, Gale Partners, explained in a separate session to DPAA members that MilkPEP now allocates 15% of media spend to outdoor advertising, including digital and programmatic DOOH, for dominant share of voice.
Even so, Rani acknowledged that MilkPEP is a “small to midsized advertiser,” and so “the gap between our budget and size for our target, which is all of the U.S., is vast. ... We are looking for dominant share of voice and presence. We started with traditional static buys (OOH). We have added digital and programmatic (pDOOH).”
The goal is substantial, though: “We want to boost milk consumption, but more importantly recapture younger consumers and add reconsideration from more than just a complement to cookies,” explained Edwards.
As such, MilkPEP aligned with the NFL and targeted active lifestyles in recent marketing campaigns featuring athletes performing incredible feats powered by milk, “because we’re a performance fuel, too! We can be competitive to sports drinks,” he added. The target became those with active lifestyles, from BMX to the NFL. As part of the campaign, a pro rock climber scaled a 30-foot wall above a billboard and took over large-format digital boards featuring other star athletes. Then indoors, it tapped retail marketing to drive an NFL NFT trading card promotion.
Edwards noted MilkPEP’s commitment to women, from a female-produced tongue-in-cheek video campaign featuring “Parks and Recreation” and “White Lotus” star Aubrey Plaza as spokeswoman, to campaigns spotlighting female pro football players, moms and influencers to encourage women to join #TeamMilk. As Rani said, DOOH provides MilkPEP creative opportunities for “dominant share of voice and presence” to reach female audiences despite the organization’s midsized budget.
Another company taking an updated approach to marketing, is Modesto, Calif.-based Gallo Wines, the largest winery in the world, with spirits as 30% of its portfolio.
Speaking at the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Amy Lund, Gallo’s VP of marketing and media investment, described the company’s aim to “democratize” interest in wine. Like MilkPEP, it would like to grow the brand’s appeal and relevance among the younger (but in Gallo’s case, legal-drinking-age) set, but any selected influencers can’t even appear to be, let alone actually be, under 25 years old. So, it also took a somewhat irreverent tone in its messaging to make wine feel “less pretentious and complex” – and similarly went the NFL route.
Lund was candid that there’s only an upside to teaming up with the NFL, since now just 20% of the fan base drinks wine. Gallo uses OOH to help the brand be seen as right at home with tailgating or watch parties. “You can drink wine in a Solo cup, drink it with pizza, etc.,” she noted. “We need to show that wine is not intimidating.” Aligning with 12 NFL franchises enabled the company to capitalize on local marketing with those teams, where DOOH can be highly targeted to reach fans and tailgaters.
As supermarket media investments shift to local at scale, leveraging DOOH has become key to engaging consumers on their path to purchase across the nation. Whether it’s updating perceptions of milk as more than just a cookie complement, making wine feel casual and approachable, or driving grocery store foot traffic, brands like Kroger, MilkPEP and Gallo Wines are finding more creative ways to integrate the flexibility, precision targeting and creative impact of digital out-of-home advertising into their media plans.