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Ica Advertisement

In: Business and Management

Submitted By mrawwe
Words 2195
Pages 9
Swedish advertisement ICA Supermarket

By

Introduction
Many Swedish companies are known worldwide for being innovative with their products and/or with their advertisements. Two examples of this is IKEA, which are very famous for their innovative and creative furniture among other things, and Absolut Vodka, which are very famous for their creative and innovate advertisements and limited edition bottles. However, while there are many Swedish companies which are famous worldwide, there are also some which are only famous in Sweden and/or its neighboring countries. One of these are ICA AB, which is grocery store chain operating in Sweden, Norway and the Baltic countries.
ICA AB have been famous for a long while in Sweden for its creative advertisements. Already in the 1970s they become famous in Sweden for their characters ICAnder and MonICA, which first were introduced in a comic created for their ICA newspaper. The characters were portrayed as a happy couple working in an ICA-store. As the comic gained popularity, they ended up being included in all their printed advertisements and became the face of ICA until sometime in the 1990’s.
However, nowadays ICAs image have changed, and they are mostly famous for their TV-advertisement drama series. It is widely known not only for being humorous, one-of-a-kind and immensely liked by the Swedish people; but also because it is currently holding the record for being the longest running advertisement drama series in the world.
The TV adverts are so well received they have won several prices for being creative and innovative, as well as ICA have gone so far as to create a YouTube-channel solely for uploading all the advertisements so customers can watch them in case they did not catch them on TV, or re-watch their favorite ones. As of December 2014, they have approx. 26,000 subscribers and 26,200,000 views of all their videos.
The question is, how and why did ICA’s TV adverts become so famous and why are they, after 13 years of the same concept, still immensely loved and appreciated by the Swedish people?
ICA’s TV advertising drama
ICA’s TV advertising drama is a series-advertising type of commercial. The concept of the advertisement drama was created by ICA together with the Swedish advertisement company King; they wanted to create and do something new. The drama advertisement was the first of its kind in Sweden and was originally planned to only have 5 episodes, but because of its success it was extended, and is still on-going to this day.
The first episode premiered in late November 2001, and have since the start mainly taken place in a fictive ICA store, run by the store manager ICA-Stig and his subordinates. As of November 2014, they have recorded over 500 episodes. In 2007 they even scored a record in the Guinness Record Book for being the “Longest Running Advertising Drama in the World”.
The commercials are between 30-60 seconds long and new ad is shown every week, in order to promote the special products or offers for that week. According to statistics from ICA, a product shown in the commercial gain on average a 250% increase in sales.
Concept
The concept of the commercial films have barely changed since its creation in 2001. The setting is almost always inside of an ICA store, with some comical happening while they show the products of the week with special promotion offers etc.
Characters
Two main characters have been there since the start of the advertising drama; the store manager ICA-Stig and his employee ICA-Ulf, while other side characters have been added or quit several times. Except for the main crew, they do often invite guests, as long as they fit with the theme or storyline of the ad of the week.

Current members; (From left to right)
ICA-Jerry
ICA-Cindy
ICA-Stig
ICA-Ulf
ICA-Pierre
Plot
The plot changes in each episode, usually revolving around one of the following: Some random happening in the store, related to one of the promoted products in the episode, a current happening in the world or Sweden, or a parody of some kind. Some examples of this is: usually around December they have Christmas-themed episodes, they have made a parody of Steve Jobs and several famous movies and TV-shows, the famous chef Jamie Oliver made a guest appearance in an episode where his cookbook was promoted, one episode was focusing on the workers coming back to work after their vacations, etc.
Success Analysis
The episodes are most of the time very comedic, most often because ICA-Ulf, who is portrayed as a both dumb and naïve person, misunderstands someone or does something foolish. The most recent example of this, is the episode released on November 23rd 2014. This episode starts out with products flying in slow-motion and in reverse; they are returning to their original place on the table. Between shots of the products, you can also see the surprised and/or horrified faces of the employees in the store. Right at the end when all products are back where they started out on the table, and before the “accident”, the slow-motion and the reverse stops, and you hear ICA-Ulf saying: “Let me show you what I learned at magic school today!”, whereas he stands up and tries to do the tablecloth trick, a trick where you pull of a tablecloth without spilling or breaking anything on the table, but fails horribly – the reason for the slow-motion start.
However, there are also occasions when they somber up and do episodes with a more serious tone, and it is usually when they are concerning promotions or subjects related to charities such as the Swedish Cancer Society, Save the Children, UNICEF, and similar organizations. The most recent example of this is the episode released on September 28th 2014. In this episode you see ICA-Ulf sitting in the register, scanning the products of a happy couple, the wife specifically being very happy, greeting ICA-Ulf with that it is finally Friday and wishing him a nice weekend. There is a short cut-out and the scene is repeated, however this time the wife has visibly shorter hair and her attitude is much more muted than before and she doesn’t say anything, the husband is speaking instead. Another cut-out, and the scene is repeated a third time, and this time the wife is bald, and forces out a “Fine, it’s Friday after all” with a forced smile when ICA-Ulf asks how she is. The scene cuts out and is repeated for a fourth time, and this time the husband is all alone which causes ICA-Ulf to look worried for a second until he suddenly breaks out in a smile – the wife appears, this time with hair grown out and a happy smile on her face. The scene cuts out with the message “Support the Cancer Society’s battle against Cancer to ensure more peoples survival” with a pink ribbon at the side, implying that the wife in the episode got breast cancer but by receiving treatment, managed to survive.
Both of these examples are good examples of how ICA managed to succeed with their current concept. By using lay endorsers, in this case before unknown actors, portray comedic, easily understandable characters the Swedish people had an easier time to relate to them. The comedic format, which was almost the only format used in the beginning of the series, made people pay attention and created a positive image of the brand.
As the series went on, they slowly varied the tone of the episodes, with some being more serious in tone, and some more comedic. By also inviting famous (mostly Swedish) persons to do guest appearances they have gained even more attention, as well as by varying the comedic themes from only concerning certain happenings in the store to being parodies on movies, books, or current events. As a result they managed to avoid being excessively associated with being a comedic commercial and thus risking being seen as annoying, or overdoing their funny image. The combination of naïve, foolish, strict and other characters with different personalities have balanced out the perception of their commercials. Moreover, in 2009 they added a character which is played by an actor with Downs Syndrome. This received mostly positive responses, saying that ICA was showing their CSR as well as showing that even people with disabilities can work.
However, while the commercials have had a positive effect in many ways in improving and promoting ICAs brand, it also have some less positive points. The most important one being the fact that people do not pay attention to the actual products being promoted in the episodes. The main idea and intention in making the TV advertising drama is to promote the special products and/or offers for that week, which is something that have failed if you look at the response from the consumers. Instead the ads have made people pay more attention to the plot and storyline of the episode, which in turn have strengthened their brand value to the degree that people choose to shop at ICA instead of at other grocery stores through the ads. The consumers have simply come to prefer to shop at ICA because they started associate the positive images they perceived in the ad with the ICA brand.
The fact that ICA had the first movers-advantage, that they were the first ones with this kind of concept have also been a help in making their commercials so popular. Because they were unique and new in their format they managed to get the consumers attention much easier than they would have if they had been imitating the format. Several other brands and companies in Sweden have tried to follow and apply this kind of concept to their own commercials in Sweden, with some managing to make successful commercials, but none have been as successful as ICA’s has. The most successful one of the imitators is the Swedish tele-company Telia, which made a similar series with the “Telia-family”, portraying a family of four trying to make it through their daily lives. The commercial was not as successful as ICAs was, but it was successful enough to continue being used for 6 years (2004-2010) before being cancelled and changed into another concept.
Conclusion
Some of the reasons for ICAs TV advertisement drama success, is among others: the first-mover advantage - it was the first of its kind in Sweden, and the new format as well as the comedic tone in the ads attracted consumers attention.
As the series have gone on, customers have formed a connection, a relationship with the characters and by the various storylines the advertisement continues to catch the customers’ attention. Also, ICA cunningly moved away from only doing comedic episodes to doing episodes which appeals to the customers emotionally, which not only furthered the image of the brand but also helped the commercial preventing the risk of getting stuck in the “funny”-category and thus risking being perceived as annoying because of an overly comedic image.
The advertisement series have definitely helped increasing the sales of ICA, and improving the brand image in the Swedish populations eyes, with most people showing an interest in the commercials and its contents, as well as a positive attitude towards the series.
However, there is also a downside, which is that some consumers only tune in because of the characters or because they want to know the story of the week, and not to pay attention to the actual products which are promoted in each episode. In some cases, they might not even take notice of the products promoted because they are so focused on the characters and the plot rather than the products shown.
To conclude, while there are negative points there is mostly positive effects of ICAs advertising strategy. It may even be appropriate to suggest that ICA did not only create a new, good, entertaining way of making TV adverts, they managed to create a desire in the consumers to be entertained by the greatest TV commercial in the world.
References
http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icas_reklamfilmer http://www.dn.se/ekonomi/nar-ica-stig-gor-reklam-flerdubblas-forsaljningen/ http://www.ica-historien.se/Varorna/Marknadsforing/Ica-sapan--varldens-langsta-reklamsapa/ http://lnu.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:325643/FULLTEXT01.pdf http://www.icagruppen.se/en/about-ica-gruppen/innovation/innovative-marketing/ http://ica-historien.se/Handelserna/Strategival/-ICAnder-och-MonICA-I-ICA-handlarnas-tjanst/ --------------------------------------------
[ 1 ]. Guinness World Records, Longest Running Television Advertising Drama, 2007 (http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-running-television-advertising-drama)
[ 2 ]. Monica Hedlund, ”När ICA-Stig gör reklam flerdubblas försäljningen”, DN.Economy, August 28th 2014, (http://www.dn.se/ekonomi/nar-ica-stig-gor-reklam-flerdubblas-forsaljningen/)
[ 3 ]. ICA reklamfilm 2014 v.48 2014 - Ulf kör duktricket, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7V6po2fSdY)
[ 4 ]. ICA reklamfilm 2014 v.40 - Var med och stöd Rosa Bandet, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8WjkwCw8OE)…...

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