Earlier this month Lidl unveiled its new £20m brand campaign aimed at altering the public’s perception of its products.

It marks a step change in the company’s marketing strategy, as it had previously relied on door drops and leafleting to get across its price message.

Lidl will now focus on TV ads and social as a way of communicating with its customers.

The campaign comes as the grocery chain is plotting a £220m UK expansion that will help it to further capitalise on its already soaring sales figures, with revenue expected to reach £4bn in 2014 up from £2bn in 2010.

All the activity is centred around #LidlSurprises, with TV, print and in-store promotions all sporting the hashtag.

We’ve all been reasonably impressed with the campaign at Econsultancy (Ben Davis in particular), so I thought I’d elaborate on what makes it so impressive.

It turns the brand’s negative image into a positive 

This is a tactic that was recently employed by Ryanair as it sought to overhaul its reputation for delivering a terrible customer experience alongside its cheap prices.

The budget airline ran its first ever TV ads to promote its improved website while giving a sly nod to the brand’s dodgy reputation.

Lidl’s ads use a similar tongue-in-cheek tone that uses people’s negative image of the brand to highlight the quality of its products.

The TV ad features a farmers market in East London where unsuspecting members of the public are shown complimenting the quality of the products before showing surprise at how cheap it all is.

The big reveal is that the food is from Lidl.

It’s a clever idea and one that knowingly undermines people’s perceptions of the Lidl brand and its products. Though it equally shows just how much our opinions are impacted by the way in which things are presented to us.

That’s assuming that the reactions are all genuine, which I am slightly dubious about.

It’s also worth drawing a comparison with a Waitrose campaign that asked people to share their experiences of the brand using the hashtag #WaitroseReasons.

Though many people hijacked the hashtag to poke fun at the brand, the tweets were generally jokes about the brand’s upmarket image rather than complaints about shoddy service or poor quality food.

Ultimately this served to reinforce the fact that consumers see Waitrose as a premium brand.

Similarly, though there are people that have been using the #LidlSurprises hashtag to complain about shoddy service, reaction has been largely positive and has only highlighted the retailer’s reputation for low prices.

It’s simple but effective

A TV ad with a hashtag isn’t a revolutionary marketing idea, but then the premise of the campaign is also very simple.

Lidl is aiming to change people’s perceptions of the brand and take a softer approach to communicating with customers. 

The ad strikes a friendly, light-hearted tone that manages to steer clear of patronising its customers.

As a posh ninny from the home counties who normally wouldn’t consider shopping anywhere other than Waitrose or Sainsbury’s, I will admit that the ad has gone some way to changing my snobbish view of the brand. 

If I thought there was a Lidl store within less than 30 miles of Marlow, I might even consider paying it a visit.

A cursory glance at mentions of the hashtag shows that many other people are equally impressed with the advert.

It ties up social with the real world

Again, using customer tweets in adverts isn’t a new idea but it is a fairly revolutionary approach for Lidl.

As well as appearing in print ads, positive tweets that use the #LidlSurprises hashtag have also been used in-store.

Many of these are consistent with the playful theme of the campaign, as they show customers making comments about how they were surprised that Lidl actually sold decent products.

It uses experiential marketing to bring the campaign to life

We’ve previously discussed the effectiveness of experiential marketing, highlighting 10 examples from global brands.

The reason these type of events work is that they create a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience.

Also, by capturing the public’s reaction you get some shareable content that can be posted on YouTube, or indeed used as a TV ad.

Admittedly the YouTube ad hasn’t exactly set the world alight just yet (it only has around 10,000 views in a week), but then it’s a brand campaign aimed at altering perceptions of a budget supermarket, so the chances of it going viral were always quite slim.