PAK’nSAVE sticks to what it knows best during COVID-19

At a time when we’re faced with uncertainty, unemployment and a looming recession, brand marketing is more important than ever, but the stakes are much higher. PAK’nSAVE is leaning into its role as an essential service and innovating how it communicates to customers in a way that’s informative, but with the brand’s usual humour.

New Zealanders want to hear from brands during the current climate, especially grocery brands, as we’re an essential service that is privileged to continue to operate,” says Kamran Kazalbash, Head of Marketing and CX for PAK’nSAVE. “We have a responsibility to look after our staff, customers and the communities in which we operate. Yet we also have a marketing responsibility that we didn’t necessarily have before. Consumers want to know brands are still operating and recognise the unprecedented situation we’re all in right now. They want to hear how we’re leading in this crisis, what their next shop will look like with us and that everything is going to be okay.

Our customers want to be reassured we’re sticking to our position of New Zealand’s lowest food prices no matter what – this has not and will not change. The familiarity of Stickman and PAK’nSAVE yellow, but in a language that communicates what’s going on right now because of COVID-19, reminds consumers that one day, things will go back to normality, whatever that might look like and when, but most importantly it gives people hope that this too shall pass.

Stickman might be late to the party, but he always makes an entrance, as PAK’nSAVE is also making its Instagram debut this week on @instickman

We researched and leveraged our insights to ensure we were making the right decision launching Stickman on Instagram in the current environment,” says Kazalbash. “Most 25-49-year-olds are reporting the highest levels of ‘feeling scared’ at present, with 18-34s having to adapt their lifestyles the most in the current climate. These groups are looking for an escape and new ways to stay positive. Staying digitally connected with PAK’nSAVE on Instagram will hopefully help alleviate some of the uncertainty they’re feeling now.

PAK’nSAVE stores have also rolled out nationwide ‘quaran-tunes’ on in-store radio so customers can enjoy physical distancing-related music. DJ Stickman will introduce the songs, so customers know it’s time to listen up. Song samples include:


Here’s something I don’t want to be. Yes, you guessed it, it’s ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’ by Stealers Wheel. Keep two metres apart everyone and enjoy the song."

If someone said this next song title to you outside of lockdown, it would really Sting. Haha. You’ll get the joke in a minute. This is ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ by The Police.

MC Hammer was ahead of his time. He’s been telling people to keep their distance since the 80s.


The brand has also adjusted its above the line marketing to reflect protective measures in place at stores and communicate how customers can stay safe. In its brand TVC, Stickman is on a mission to remind customers to shop normal and stay safe, in his usual snarky tone and humour. PAK’nSAVE even has a new logo, swapping out its usual tagline of “Our Policy: New Zealand’s Lowest Grocery Prices” to “Our Policy: Keep it Distance-y New Zealand.

It’s obviously not business as usual for PAK’nSAVE, or any brand,” says David (DT) Thomason, Chief Strategy Officer of FCB New Zealand, the award-winning creative agency behind PAK’nSAVE. “It’s an uncertain and scary time for everyone, and it’s critical for brands who are leading us through the uncertainty to do it responsibly and authentically. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done with a smile, and in PAK’nSAVE’s case, it’d be wrong not to.