How Aldi became Britain’s funniest supermarket

Social media sensation #FreeCuthbert is the latest example of how Aldi has used wit to appeal to customers and break through in a very crowded market. We speak to its long-time creative agency McCann UK about how the brand nails its relatable sense of humour

Aldi has come a long way since its early days as a family-owned grocery store in the beginning of the 1900s. Originally known as Albrecht Discount, the German-owned supermarket’s first store opened in Essen in 1913, before being taken over and expanded by founder Anna Albrecht’s two sons in the 1940s. Today, the company’s distinctive ‘A’ logomark has become instantly recognisable, and it boasts thousands of locations all over the world.

In the UK, Aldi’s phenomenal success wasn’t always set in stone. In fact, when the supermarket opened its first store in Stechford in the 90s there was a discernible snobbery about discount stores and own-brand ranges in general. Slowly but surely, the chain has turned things around, thanks in part to its no-frills store design complete with bargain-focused ‘middle aisle’, the chaotic energy of its multiple-barcode checkout system, and an emphasis on reasonably priced own-brand products, which make up roughly 90% of its stock.

In 2017, Aldi overtook the Co-op to become the UK’s fifth largest retailer. The grocer currently has almost 900 stores and 36,000 staff here, and is expected to have a total of 1,200 stores across the UK by 2025. Most significantly, it has demonstrated that there is no shame in going to a discount supermarket. Not only has this led other major supermarkets to renew their focus on value (as seen with Tesco’s discount rival Jack’s), it has arguably changed the sociology of shopping in Britain for good.

McCann UK has played a big role in shifting perceptions of Aldi and the quality of its goods since it first started working with the supermarket in 2004. “Most people reading this were in their first year at primary school when we pitched for Aldi. It all started with a leaflet and eventually grew into Kevin the Carrot and all things Christmassy,” says the agency’s chief creative officer, Dave Price.

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes