Marketing and Comms
Whole Foods Leads with Sustainability in 'Values Matter' TV Campaign

Sustainability bona fides are at the heart of the first national TV and print advertising campaign by Whole Foods Market, which ushers in the slogan “Values matter.” The Austin-based healthful-foods pioneer hopes that the commercials can restore some of the brand’s differentiating luster now that sales growth has slowed and it has more worthy competitors than ever.

The campaign is meant as “the first steps in a national dialogue,” Anthony Sperduti, creative director of the creative agency for the campaign, Partners & Spade, told the New York Times. “The millennial generation, especially, wants to know how socially responsible a brand is and where products come from.”

StandardsIndeed, the company — which is often derided as “Whole Paycheck” — has resisted the temptation to address its value positioning, in favor of returning the brand to its roots as the original champion of natural and organic foods and of CPG supply-chain sustainability efforts. The narrator of one spot notes, “To us, value is inseparable from values.” Print ads complement TV with messages such as “a growing consciousness that’s bigger than food.”

“We want people and animals and the places our food comes from to be treated fairly,” one anthemic 60-second commercial declares. “The time is right to champion the way food is grown and raised and caught. So it’s good for us, and for the greater good, too. This is where it all comes to fruition. This is where values matter.”

In another TV spot, for Whole Foods beef, the announcer details corporate sustainability practices including buying cattle “who’ve had room to roam” by “people with responsible ranching practices.” Another ad touts how the chain’s fruits and vegetables “support organic and sustainable farming” and are grown with “our ethical trade program.”

In a similar vein, Whole Foods preceded the launch of the TV campaign by unveiling a new rating system for its produce, called “Responsibly Grown,” which measures sustainable farming practices such as farmworker welfare, soil quality, water-conservation practices and pesticide usage on a “good,” “better” and “best” scale. The grocer says it is trying to help consumers who want to get more granular about the products they’re buying than just being satisfied with Whole Foods’ umbrella promise of selling sustainable produce — a promise also illustrated by its pledge to label all genetically modified products by 2018.

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