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We are pleased to share with you some new work for Kroger & DDB New York from our director, César Pelizer. César is a London-based illustrator and animation director whose work often bursts with bold, colorful, and surreal character designs.

For Kroger, he and his team created a whopping 100-plus unique characters. To learn more about how we developed this true 360 campaign, drop us a line. We always love to hear from you.

Hana & Michael

Kroger—the largest supermarket chain in the U.S.—recently enlisted the expertise of DDB and Hornet to aid in a massive company rebrand. In addition to the launch of a new logo, new tagline, and new brand messaging centered around fresh, affordable food for all, Kroger wanted to create an overall look and feel that would be completely ownable and original.

So, they turned to the talents of Hornet director César Pelizer. Put simply, the Brazilian-born, London-based director has a style that’s about as original as it gets—as original, you could say, as the original grocery store Mr. Barney Kroger opened in downtown Cincinnati back in 1883.

Kroger has come a long way since 1883. (To be fair, plenty of things have come a long way since the Victorian era. But that’s beside the point!) Kroger, today, is HUGE. It’s the second-largest general retailer in the US, 4th largest in the world, and the 17th biggest company on the Forbes 500 list. Nine million people shop at Kroger each day across 2,800 stores in 35 states. It makes sense, then, that Kroger wanted their rebrand launch to have a comparably sizable splash.

Prior to July 2019, Kroger had never worked with a creative agency of record. But, knowing they needed to solidify their branding and tell a more cohesive & inclusive story about their commitment to food that’s “Fresh for Everyone,” they finally, after months of searching for the perfect agency fit, enlisted the creative talents of DDB New York, along with the tangential talents of Hornet and César.

According to César, “When I received the brief from DDB, I couldn’t have been more excited. The idea was to create a range of recognizable Kroger characters that would celebrate diversity in a strong, bold, colorful style, and of course, would support what people love most: fresh food. During pre-production, I took several trips to my local supermarket just to observe the people around me.”

These observations led to the creation of a sprawling mosaic of unique character creations. During pre-production, Hornet and DDB worked iteratively back-and-forth to land upon a set of characters that were completely distinctive, original, and lovable. These characters—these big, buoyant, beyond memorable characters—became affectionately known as “Kroji’s”, or Kroger emojis.

The launch of the rebrand campaign was massive. There was a 30-second anthem TV spot featuring 12 vignettes and 24 originally designed and rigged characters. There were tailored spots for 11 of Kroger’s subsidiary stores. There were in-store print materials, out-of-home billboards, new shopping bags and employee aprons, and social media assets, all of which added up to the creation of 100-plus unique characters displayed in countless formats and locations. In terms of execution, Hornet’s in-house team of CG animators worked tirelessly for 6 weeks in our Manhattan studio to bring the characters and the anthem spot to life. Immediately upon completion, they rolled into yet more intensive work for additional upcoming spots still to come for Kroger.

In other words, a brand transformation is a massive undertaking. But already, it appears to have been met with a great response. As César says, “The idea was to represent everyday people. Now that the project has been released, it’s been so fun seeing how people on social media are interacting with the campaign by tagging one another and asking, ‘Is that you??’. That, for me, is the best feedback I could have asked for with this campaign.”

The good people at Kroger maybe summed it up best in their new brand attributes: “The Kroji animation features a lovable cast of characters to represent Kroger customers, associates, and communities in an inclusive, relatable, optimistic, and fun way.” 

Check out the anthem spot here.

Watch our latest work here
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