CHICAGO — Meijer Inc. is picking a fight with the big boys.
The privately owned supercenter operator, which is based in Grand Rapids, Mich., but has about 11 stores in the Chicago area, has launched an aggressive new ad campaign that seeks to position it as having a superior grocery offering to the two dominant local chains, Dominick's and Jewel-Osco.
“With prices that are 10% to 15% lower than the two leading Chicago grocery stores, Meijer is a better store than the other guys,” one of the TV spots states.
The humorous campaign includes ads on the sides of city buses and radio spots, which focus on Meijer's selection, quality and prices. Although the ads do not mention Dominick's and Jewel by name, the radio spots jokingly tease around the topic using rhymes (“Hominix” and “Hewel,” for example) to get the point across.
“This is a different tack for them,” said Neil Stern, senior partner at retail consulting firm McMillian Doolittle, which is based here. “They certainly haven't been that aggressive against key competitors in the past.”
Jewel-Osco, owned by Minneapolis-based Supervalu, tends to focus on “freshness” in its ads, while Dominick's, owned by Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway, has been using its “Ingredients for Life” campaign as it rolls out its “lifestyle” remodeling program in the market.
Meijer, he said, may be taking a big risk in taking on the much larger Jewel and Dominick's banners.
“It's a numbers game for them — they just don't have the scale and presence that the other guys have,” Stern said.
A Meijer spokesman did not return calls.
The campaign was created by New York-based DeVito/Verdi, which was not available for comment.