Mr Patel climbs on the brand wagon

PETER YORK ON ADS
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The Independent Culture
HAPPY Shopper advertising is just about as basic as it gets. No stars, no production values, no graphic elegance - "just low, low prices" on grocery items. And the prices are pointed out by Happy Shopkeepers, who introduce very basic and rather unattractively packaged "value" products - fruit squash, colas and orange juice - which are indeed extremely cheap.

Not only are they unattractively packaged, the Happy Shopper products are set against backgrounds of precisely those blues and yellows in a combination, and precisely the typography, that evokes the world of a northern Arndale in 1975.

Behind the Happy Shopper brand is the hard, competitive reality of retail grocery at the lower end - light years away from the sophisticated middle- class supermarkets such as Tesco and Waitrose, with their interesting wine selections and ciabatta varieties. Happy Shopper is a wholesaler's brand: invented by the wholesale chain Nurdin & Peacock for its cash- and-carry outlets, to help independent grocers compete with the low-price chains such as Kwik Save and Aldi.

And who are those independent retailers, exactly? They're Harry Patel's corner shop. The one remarkable thing about the Happy Shopper ads is that they recognise this reality: the various Happy Shopkeepers, young and old, male and female, are Asian. For these ads are selling at two audiences, reassuring the customers that Happy Shopper is a real brand - as seen on TV - and reassuring Harry Patel that there will be demand out there for it. Since everyday British Asians are far rarer in television advertising than everyday British blacks, this rather utilitarian brand may just be responsible for something of a breakthrough.

8 Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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