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Kroger - A Fully Integrated Rebrand
A REBRAND & ONGOING CAMPAIGN

The Kroger-Hornet relationship all started with a rebrand. In November 2019, Kroger—the nation's largest supermarket chain—made headlines with the launch of a massive company brand revamp. In addition to a new logo and slogan, the supermarket chain integrated a mass media campaign that included a complete overhaul of their visual identity, which continues to this day.

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ITERATIVE & ONGOING

Hornet has worked closely with Kroger from the beginning. Through our director-driven model, we initially enlisted the talents of César Pelizer to bring his one-of-a-kind authorship style to the Kroger ecosystem. From there, we built an iterative production pipeline centered around his vision, yet boosted by the creative support of various members of our director roster, to ensure we were always one step ahead of the client’s wishes and needs. Since 2019, we've executed a sprawling mix of creative campaigns, and have helped signal the start of a new era for the nation’s second-largest retailer.

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A Game - Directed by Cesar Pelizer
Shell Directed by Dan & Jason
A WORD ABOUT KROGER

Kroger has come a long way since opening its doors in 1883. Today, it’s the largest supermarket chain by revenue in America ($121 billion for fiscal year 2019), the 4th largest general retailer 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.

Prior to July 2019, Kroger had never worked with an agency of record before. They spent five months meticulously searching for the right agency fit and ultimately chose DDB New York. Part of this decision was because of early collaboration between Hornet and DDB in the bidding phase to incorporate character work from César in the reference documents. Since then, as the new brand has evolved, Kroger has also enlisted the creative services of integrated media agency 360i. We at Hornet have thoroughly enjoyed working with both agencies.

Quality Milk - Directed by Cesar Pelizer
Thanksgiving Director Cut - Directed by Yves Geleyn
Holiday Waltz - Directed by Yves Geleyn and Cesar Pelizer
Gifs from "Get Low" - Directed by Cesar Pelizer
Black Friday - Socks for Everyone - Directed by Dan and Jason
E-Commerce "Aerobics" - Directed by Cesar Pelizer
Anthem :30 - Directed by Cesar Pelizer
CREATIVE CHALLENGE

Kroger’s goal was to tell an inclusive story about their commitment to food that’s “Fresh for Everyone.” To do so, they needed to create a look and feel that wasn't just original, but also emblematic and representative of the diversity of Kroger's millions of customers. They needed instantly ownable characters that would transcend economic and social strata and be appealing to shoppers all across the country, from trendy cities like L.A. and Atlanta to rural places like Lansing and Roanoke. Queue the Kroji characters….

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Value Get Low - Directed by Cesar Pelizer
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ChefBot How To - Directed by Cesar Pelizer
IN CÉSAR'S WORDS

"The idea was to represent everyday people. We got to create a range of recognizable Kroger characters that would celebrate diversity in a strong, bold, colorful style. During pre-production, I took several trips to my local supermarket just to observe the people around me."

-César Pelizer

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KROJI'S

Krojis, a mashup of “Kroger” and “emojis”, is the name given to the CG characters that have captured the hearts and minds of Kroger customers all across the country. By the end of the initial rebrand, more than 100 of these characters were propagated across Kroger’s advertising channels. Since then, dozens more have been created and been brought to animated life in various TV spots. Some have even developed cult personalities and have made sneaky cameos in multiple spots as hidden easter eggs. According to Kroger’s 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.”

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Chez Molly directed by Yves Geleyn
Zero Hunger | Zero Waste :30 - Directed by Cesar Pelizer
Happier Holiday :30 - Directed by Cesar Pelizer
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EVER-EVOLVING CAMPAIGN

In terms of propagation, the scope of the initial rebrand was staggering. There were in-store print materials, out-of-home billboards, rebranded shopping bags and employee aprons, social media assets, and a 30-second TV anthem spot. In later roll-outs, Hornet’s in-house team of CG animators worked tirelessly to deliver multiple 30-second spots with a wide range of initiatives and promos on display. Some have been holiday-themed like “Kroger Thanksgiving.” Some have been socially conscious PSA’s like “Zero Hunger | Zero Waste.” Others have ranged from Black Friday promotions to even a CG character and promo film for an interactive AI Twitter bot called ChefBot that can analyze food ingredients and spit out personalized recipes. (Fun fact: ChefBot won Gold at the 2021 Shorty Awards.)

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TOOLKIT

One of the most dynamic and interactive early deliverables was the toolkit that Hornet provided. Within this toolkit was a robust library of assets—roughly 150 characters and an additional 75 props—that could be used by every Kroger subsidiary store. Effectively, each store was given access to pre-set character files, approved by Hornet and Kroger, that they could then render and print to create thousands of different print pieces at their own discretion, allowing them to work more nimbly. From Hornet’s standpoint, the toolkit also meant we could repurpose various assets to turn around new projects really quickly.

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CONCLUSION

Successful brand transformations can only happen when every detail comes together in perfect harmony. Between Kroger's optimism, DDB & 360i’s ingenuity, and Hornet’s creative horsepower, the success of the brand transformation was down to both a shared vision of the macro and a fierce implementation of the micro. Supporting the collective vision was a production pipeline that ensured everything came together on schedule—but more than this, it all came together on brand.

Ever since, the partnership between Kroger and Hornet has only continued to strengthen and solidify. In astronomical terms, the Kroger-Hornet universe started with a Big Bang and has kept expanding since. There’s been a steady explosion of new characters, new narratives, and new directors. And yet bolstering all of this “new” is still the same old steadfast commitment to making brand work that’s truly “Fresh For Everyone.”