Channel First: Lessons from the “Supergeil” EDEKA Commercial

The viral campaign “supergeil” (in English “super-hot”) has brought worldwide attention to the German supermarket chain EDEKA. More than eight million people have watched the video on YouTube so far; fans have placed parodies on the internet; it climbed up the Amazon Best Seller List, and the artist performed at the Echo Music Awards ceremony, the German equivalent to the Grammy Awards, during broadcast prime-time. It is obvious that the German supermarket chain has done something right.

In the video, the artist Friedrich Liechtenstein from Berlin dances casually in the aisles of the supermarket and sings about the “supergeil” groceries labeled with EDEKA’s store brand. EDEKA’s representation in the online spot is entirely different than in TV commercials or in print. Some critics claim that the viral effect is achieved at the expense of consistent communication; however, this criticism does not seem valid.

“Supergeil” targets a younger audience. The campaign is tailored to the consumer habits of the digital generation and is determined by the principle: channel first. It puts an end to repetitive communication across various channels, which targets everyone but no one specifically. EDEKA consciously creates an internet presence that is different. This is a brave, yet wise decision. Brands need to be flexible to effectively target different audiences. If marketing doesn’t venture outside traditional limitations, it begins to repeat itself – and gets lost in the mass of commercials. Customers are commonly smarter than marketers assume. They recognize the brand even if there are contradictions in the messaging. We, as customers, only insist on one thing: Don’t bore us.

High Noon at the deli counter

At the beginning of March, EDEKA launched the second, more traditional phase of the campaign with a TV commercial. Similar to traditional plots in Western movies, we see a classic showdown. The only difference is that groceries are used instead of Colts – and that the setting is a supermarket. The winner ends up with better products in the shopping cart. The TV commercial aims at regular customers. It is still fun to watch but a lot more conservative than the online video. How does this fit with the surreal and self-deprecating campaign on the internet? It doesn’t: “supergeil” targets a different audience.

Exciting is good

Of course, it is important to maintain a brand identity on the internet. However, this should be done flexibly. Customers usually don’t care if the communication fits the general brand identity when they start watching commercials. They want to be targeted with something that is interesting, relevant and entertaining. Online advertisement needs to be particularly exciting. In other words, fortune favors the brave – my compliments to EDEKA. Let’s all be inspired by that.

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