Challenger to Watch 2019: Lidl
For being the Lidl guy (with sharp teeth)
Lidl’s advertising is based on the idea of ‘Lidl Surprises’. Lidl is not just cheap, it’s surprisingly good quality is the message. Well Lidl continued the theme of ‘surprising consumers’ last year with its cheeky and subversive digs at upmarket retailers John Lewis and Waitrose.
First, it parodied the #EltonJohnLewis Christmas ad with the ‘It’s a Lidl bit funny…’ tweet telling consumers they could get a keyboard from Lidl for £89.99, rather than paying £872 for the piano that featured in the John Lewis ad.
Then, full of mince pies (£1.49) and cheap (but quality) brandy, or perhaps just full of confidence from the attention its humorous twitter exchange with John Lewis had created, Lidl launched a billboard campaign to directly compare its products and prices with those of rivals Waitrose and Marks and Spencer.
The out-of-home advertising resembled guerrilla marketing ads, with Lidl’s cheaper prices appearing to be stuck with sticky tape over the top of well-known Waitrose and Marks and Spencer ads.
The recent creative has shone an interesting new light on Lidl. It has hinted at an aspect of the brand as a scrappy underdog, a stance which can often suit a value champion such as Lidl. And despite the German supermarket’s continual growth in the UK over the last six years - up from 2.8% in 2012 to 5.5% in 2018, it still has some considerable market share to steal from the big three British supermarkets in Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda.
What is especially interesting about Lidl’s recent behaviour, is that brands that explicitly and publicly call out their rivals are a rare sight in the UK marketing landscape today. Yet you only have to look to the US and at the recent success Wendy’s has had in its brilliant ongoing ‘Beef’ with McDonald’s to see the power of it as a challenger strategy.
Lidl has always been a challenger through its business model and pricing. But its recent behaviour demonstrated its potential as a challenger through its brand.
Interestingly, the rebellious pre-Christmas creative was TBWA’s last throw of the dice as Aldi’s creative agency after five years on the account. Accenture will take the reins on Lidl’s brand strategy from March 2019.
With Accenture on the account, it will be interesting to see whether this new scrappy underdog aspect to the brand is retained and allowed to progress from the opportunistic, to the strategic. It’s a new aspect that’s provided some of Lidl’s most provocative creative to date, and hinted at the potential of the brand as a brave and scrappy ‘Lidl’ challenger to the big retailers.