Brand Strategy Iceland Retail

Was Iceland right to drop ‘mums’ from its strapline?


By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

May 30, 2024 | 7 min read

In a bid to be more inclusive, the British frozen food retailer changed its slogan to ‘That’s why we go to Iceland.’ YouGov data suggests the British public has welcomed the change. As part of The Drum’s Retail Focus, we find out what adland thinks.

Iceland store

Iceland first used ‘mums’ in its slogan in 1970 / Iceland

In April, Iceland updated its 20-year-old strapline, ‘That’s why mums go to Iceland,’ replacing ‘mums’ with ‘we.’ Its chairman says that while mums are its main demographic, Iceland is for everyone and that its new slogan reflects that.

According to YouGov’s BrandIndex, which measures how people respond to brand communications, consideration for Iceland jumped to 17.1 from 13.6 in the two weeks after the campaign kicked off.

There was a considerable 5.2% uptick in ad awareness, the metric that shows whether people have seen a brand campaign in the past two weeks. Iceland also had a steady uplift in its ‘Buzz Score,’ which looks at whether people have heard positive or negative things about a brand, the metric rising from 4 to 7.

Iceland first used ‘mums’ in its slogan in 1970, with ‘Mums love it,’ which later evolved into ‘Mum’s gone to Iceland’ and then to its most recent iteration, ‘That’s why mums to go Iceland,’ which memorably made Kerry Katona famous again in 2004.

Announcing the change in April, Iceland’s executive chairman Richard Walker said: “Iceland has always been number one with mums, but the reality is people from all walks of life, and life stages, choose to shop with us. That includes everyone from students and seniors to single-parent families, mums, dads and fitness enthusiasts. We’re a Great British institution and open to all.”

We heard mixed views from the industry; some praised Iceland’s progressiveness, while others were skeptical about YouGov’s data and one asked if Iceland would lose its distinctiveness.

Adele Meer, head of planning, Quiet Storm: “I’ve long been impressed with how far Iceland has gone to help shoppers during the cost of living crisis, with its Tuesday discounts for the over 60s, short-term microloans and absolute commitment to £1 offers. Which makes me wonder, how much of the uplift is due to the updated strapline and how much is down to simply being on air for the first time in a long time and leading with a strong value-led message?”

“As for the strapline itself, while I’m not sure how much it’s actually been used in recent years, the update feels like both a necessary modernization and a great way to get that little bit more earned coverage around the campaign.”

Rosanagh Ker, strategy director, New Commercial Arts: “When you register a marriage you’re asked for your parents’ professions, by way of historical record. I told the clerk that my mum was retired. She asked, ‘Retired from what?’ I replied, ‘From being a housewife.’ The clerk replied, ‘Technically, you can’t retire from being a housewife’ and so forevermore, in her lifetime and the next, my mum can never relinquish this title.

“A woman’s work truly is never done. And it is this feeling that Iceland’s old slogan leaves me with. There’s a long way to go until household chores are split equally. There’s a long way to go in representing women in all their multitudes. But in taking us one step closer, I’m glad Iceland decided to retire this slogan and it would seem that the YouGov data agrees.”

Rob Sellers, retail consultant (ex-Grey and VCCP retail lead): “Firstly, the caveat. You would hope to see any half-decent campaign increase scores like this (I wish I had some benchmarks). Essentially, if you turn on the advertising taps, then people are more likely to have seen (and, therefore, hopefully positively appraise) communications from your brand.

“Iceland, a bastion of hard-working, lower-income families, knew exactly who its customers were and, without interrogating the societal paradigms it reflects, talking directly to ‘mum’ clearly helped shoppers understand why and when to consider a trip to Iceland.

“Has Iceland sacrificed the one thing that made it distinct? The ‘mum’ in the original name really resonated with the core shopper – and the challenge that she has in terms of balancing budgets and being the hero (with little treats) when she gets home. And the thing is, when money is tight and working people’s household income is spread thin, that insight is as true as ever.”

Deniz Karaman, senior planner, Beyond Collective: “The positive initial response is promising and reflects that the public welcomes such timely updates. However, the long-term impact of the change will depend on whether or not – and how – Iceland chooses to respect its new slogan. Iceland wants to be known as a supermarket not just for mums but for everyone. If this is not adequately reflected across its comms, it may eventually face some backlash for jumping on the bandwagon of inclusivity without taking it seriously.”

Laura Eyles, senior strategist, Design Bridge and Partners: “This is a smart move from Iceland that broadens the consumer base, increases inclusivity and likely brings a greater sense of belonging for its customers too. It shifts away from the gendered assumption that only mums do the shopping. For brands that appeal to a mass audience, steering away from the use of a gendered brand tagline, which could be seen as a negative by different and important groups, reflects an awareness of shifting societal norms and notions of a modern family dynamic.

“Many supermarket groups hold strong associations of the type of customer or demographic that shop there – but Iceland has the opportunity to establish new associations while still doubling down on existing ones. Even if statistically mums are the key audience, it offers the aspiration to choose Iceland because they want to be a savvy shopper, not just because they’re a mum.”

Kathryn Loosley, senior strategist, House 337: “The shift to ‘we’ mirrors the brand’s community values, which are a strong differentiator in a saturated ‘value’ market. Moving from ‘mum’ to ‘we’ changes the relationship between brand and customer. ‘We’ is inclusive, positioning Iceland as part of a community that includes its customers as peers.

“I hope this is just the start for Iceland. The rebrand is a step in the right direction, encapsulating the values that set it apart from Aldi, Lidl and Asda. We need to see more of this in Iceland’s creative work so consumers can get a better understanding of the brand beyond it simply competing on price.”

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