The Dutch supermarket giant Albert Heijn, has decided to eschew the expected sources of advertisement, and launched a full campaign celebrating the festive month of December: the “Omdat het December is” (“Because it’s December”) campaign. This campaign, apart from the expected interior branding in-stores and the propagation of traditional advertising material, also has three special components, integral to its success.
The first has been an elaborate light show set up at the store in Houten. The second involves carrying out a dinner for 400 people at the longest gourmet table in the Netherlands, at the Groningen Grote Markt. Lastly, an essential part of this campaign has been the interactive, endearing, Albert Heijn Kooktruck (cooking truck).
Although Allerhande, Albert Heijn’s helpful cooking and recipe guide has been in existence since the mid-1950s, the magazine itself has been a different story. Every month, since 1983, Albert Heijn has been consistently churning out helpful recipes and cooking tips, highlighting seasonal or special ingredients through its free magazine, Allerhande.
Currently, it has more than 4 million readers a year and its December edition has proven to be its most popular, with a third of the Dutch population taking at least one recipe from the magazine every Christmas season. Studies have shown the over half (55%) of homemakers living in the Netherlands find the decoration and set-up of the Christmas table as important as the taste of the food, including the presentation of the dish. Thus, these homemakers turn to Allerhande in order to fulfill this requirement for Christmas dinner, giving a professional-grade dinner at home.
Albert Heijn and Allerhande decided that the cooking truck was a way in which to give inspiration to home cooks all around the Netherlands during the holiday season. With live demonstrations, visitors do not only see live what is being cooked, picking up tips and tricks, but they can also taste the recipes in order to assess if these tasty, thirty-minute dishes are delicious enough for their family.
In previous years, Albert Heijn would host the Allerhande Kerstfestival (Christmas festival) in Utrecht. It would draw in 40.000 visitors. A seemingly large amount, but relatively small compared to the number of people shopping during the Christmas period. Although Utrecht is extremely central in the Netherlands, going to the Kerstfestival was a hassle for anyone living anywhere far away from the cosmopolitan area. By using a truck, Albert Heijn was able to place the truck in front of a selection of 28 stores, those which were considered “large, active, and innovative”. Placing the truck in front of stores from the northernmost to the southernmost points of the Netherlands, they were finally able to reach a wider range of customers. Locals from all walks of life now were included in the Albert Heijn Christmas experience.
Furthermore, by using recipes which included products from the exclusive Albert Heijn Excellence line, or products not sold at other supermarkets, they managed to make consumers hungry and eager to shop at their nearest local Albert Heijn – which the truck was conveniently located next to.
Local supermarket managers also found the Kooktruck to be an exciting way to motivate consumers to shop at Albert Heijn. One such example is John Sterenburg, manager of the Albert Heijn Stadfenne. He mentioned that for him, “the [truck] could have stayed longer” and that the idea was “supergezellig”, a Dutch word meaning cozy. Locally, the Albert Heijn supermarket encouraged visitors to visit the truck, hanging up posters and handing out flyers, which evidently worked successfully, since it was busy from build-up to break-down.
The local manager also pointed out that he preferred the idea of the truck over the static Christmas festival, due to its increased accessibility. For this local manager, the event was such a successful experience that he claimed that “although [he] understand[s] that it’s not possible, this truck should go to all Albert Heijn supermarkets” because everyone should have the chance to experience it.
The Brand Activation Manager from Albert Heijn, Rein Hannah Bojahr, ultimately concluded that:
“[she was] extremely proud of the December campaign of Albert Heijn. December is naturally (underratedly) the prettiest time of the year. Whether you like it or not, December has something magical. Make the most beautiful days of the year extra special…because it’s December!”