Food Lion “Winning Formula”

Since 2017, our good pals at GSD&M have been working as the agency of record for the iconic East Coast grocery chain, Food Lion. Over these last 3 years the ad agency has been developing creative that brings a modern tone to the Food Lion brand, while also keeping in line with their heritage and long lasting customer base. GSD&M recently came to us with a set of spots centered around making memories with people you care about, brought together by food. The goal was to bring these ideas to life, simply and graphically, so that the spots could have the same impact with or without audio, to make the most impact on a viewing audience.

“Game Night” and “Study Group” were the chosen creative concepts we were asked to bring to life in these ads. In one concept, we see a mom bringing groceries to feed a group of hungry tweens gathered at the table for an after school study session. In the other concept, we see a party host preparing to feed her guests for a spirited night of games.  

Revelator director Matt Muir was chosen by GSD&M to helm the spots. The agency award was based on Matt’s experience with both lifestyle and food table-top commercials, Our first step to bring these spots from concept to the screen was casting. It’s always Food Lion’s goal to find authentic and relatable talent that reflect their diverse customer base. We worked with Good People Casting (who’ve recently set up an outpost here in Austin) to bring in people who would feel like a real friend, family member, or neighbor we all just might have. Once Matt and the GSD&M team found our ensemble, the next goal was to make the relationships feel authentic. Both of these spots focused on the interaction and bond between these people, so we wanted to create naturalistic relationships between everyone on screen. Director Matt Muir worked create a relaxed and fun set for each group or our actors. The “Game Night” and “Study Group” talent were given plenty of time to rehearse and find spontaneous moments before shooting. Matt’s aim was to find their natural rapport to translate their chemistry on-screen. We feel it was a definite success, and you can tell in the smiles and laughs that the naturalism and fun made it’s way to the final product.

Another core piece of these spots was the delicate balancing of the attention paid to the relationships of the characters as well as the on-screen food that brings them together. We wanted the fresh, high-quality food to have a real presence on camera, so we enlisted the help of talented food stylist Thoa Nguyen. Our goal in these kinds of commercials is to make sure the food looks vibrant and delicious while still being grounded in the storytelling of the scene. 

The location was key component to the overall feel of these spots. We wanted to honor Food Lion’s slogan, “This is our home; that’s our Food Lion.” Our goal was to create an environment that felt comfortable, lived-in, and relatable. After an extensive location search, we eventually found the perfect option to hit the warm and unpretentious environment Matt and the GSD&M team were searching for. Our production designer Chris Combs built on that tone by dressing the sets with distinct color palettes and unique accents in each space. This attention to detail helps convey the universal comfort, but individual charm that our campaign identity deserved.

Director Matt Muir worked with longtime collaborator Mike Simpson as the project’s cinematographer. Matt and Mike wanted to stay light and mobile while shooting, so we opted for an Arri Alexa Mini that moved quickly between a shoulder rig and dolly setup. We relied on a set of Arri Master Primes to give a cinematic feel, while maintaining a crisp and clean look to the image.

There was a lot to accomplish in a :15 second runtime and a lot to balance on set, but our approach and tremendous cast and crew may it a delightful project to deliver. We think the results show in the finished products, and we couldn’t be more thankful to wrap up another rewarding project with GSD&M, one of our favorite ad agencies and partners.