Want Fresh Produce? This Agency Helped a Grocer Grow Food Right in the Store

Zona Sul's green gimmick

As if self-checkout and bagging our own groceries at the supermarket weren't humiliating enough, now we're expected to harvest our own vegetables in the produce section! 

Supermarket chain Zona Sul recently transformed shelves at its Rio de Janeiro-based flagship store into vegetable gardens, encouraging customers to dig into the soil to pick lettuce, basil, peppers and scallions. 

"We mainly wanted to reach Zona Sul customers who shop for vegetables in other locations, such as street markets or vegetable-specific stores," Fábio Onofre, creative director at agency WMcCann Rio, tells AdFreak. "Those are the customers that still think they can find fresher food elsewhere. This way, we could truly show them that at Zona Sul, everything is really, really fresh."

At first, some shoppers were unsure how to react, "thinking it was just a special display that shouldn't be touched, but they eventually came around and picked what they wanted," Onofre says. 

Leveraging word of mouth and free media, the stunt, which took place in April, helped the store in Rio's Barra da Tijuca neighborhood enjoy a 30 percent uptick in customer preference—and a nearly 20 percent surge in vegetable sales in recent weeks. Now there are plans to expand the concept to other locations. 

"There was this senior lady who enjoyed it very much and said it reminded her of when she was young and had her own veggie garden before moving to the city," Onofre says. "Nowadays, it's harder and harder for people to have that experience, so it was great seeing people getting their food straight from the earth for the first time."

Fair enough. But if they ever make us fish in wading pools or slaughter cows in the aisles, it’s time to head for Whole Foods.


Client: Zona Sul

Agency: WMcCann

CCO: Washington Olivetto

Creative VP: Guime Davidson

Creative Director: Fábio Onofre, Nicolás Romanó

Creatives: Gabriel Gil, Bruno Mukai

Account service: Gabriela Arroyo, Suzana Machado, Isabela Fogaça and Gustavo Tupinambá

Production VP: Marcelo Hack

Graphic Production: Reginaldo Barbosa

Designer: Bruno Mukai

Project Manager: Karina Rios

Client approval: Alexandre Alves

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: June 1, 2016 https://dev.adweek.com/creativity/want-fresh-produce-agency-helped-grocer-grow-food-right-store-171749/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT