As restaurant food delivery services, such as Uber Eats and DoorDash, continue to expand into grocery, H-E-B recently launched a spirited TV campaign to remind Texans that its Favor delivery service will deliver wine and beer, arrangements from its Blooms flower shops, and restaurant food in under an hour.
Created by the Dallas-based agency Plot Twist Creativity, the trio of entertaining H-E-B/Favor commercials airing in select Texas markets now include Reality TV, a spoof on reality romance shows, in which two women run out of wine mid-episode; Bike Instructor, where a Peloton-inspired trainer reminds a woman taking his virtual class that she’s forgotten to buy flowers for her mother’s birthday; and Yes, Chef, which shows a young man “totally and utterly” failing at making a meal from a cookbook who is prompted by the cookbook author to abandon the stove and order takeout from True Texas BBQ delivered for free in under an hour from H-E-B’s Favor.
In February 2018, H-E-B acquired Austin-based on-demand Favor Delivery service that launched in 2013. Today Favor’s 75,000 runners deliver groceries, food and beverages from select H-E-B stores, Central Markets, Joe V’s, Stripes and Circle Ks, as well as scores of restaurants from more than 130 cities across Texas.
But as the pandemic ushered in a new era of speedy delivery and heightened competition for share of stomach in contactless markets, the new H-E-B commercials are designed to resonate with shoppers who want food, beverages and flowers from a brand they knew and trusted before COVID.
“Uber Eats and DoorDash are huge—they’re gorillas of delivery. Favor is a regional player having the cred of H-E-B behind them and that’s a good thing,” Chris Smith, Plot Twist principal and chief creative officer told WGB. “Consumers trust a big company like H-E-B that they know and understand.”
“Some consumers are aware [of the H-E-B/Favor relationship] but there’s still a large swath of Texas who don’t make the connection, nor do they understand why it matters,” says Rachel Dawer, writer and co-creator of Plot Twist’s H-E-B/Favor campaign. “When Amazon bought Whole Foods it was pretty clear what the benefits to shoppers would be, but when H-E-B acquired Favor those benefits were a bit less clear.”
Dawer further notes that H-E-B’s Favor has strong brand equity behind it, when compared to other delivery services that dangle coupon codes to motivate new customers to give them a try.
“We wanted these [ads] to feel relatable to everyday situations that address what consumers need,” Dawer said of the trio of commercials. As a resident of Austin, Dawer said she frequently sees the “Proposal Island” H-E-B Reality TV commercial directed by Kiran Koshy, while she’s “watching trashy [real reality TV] 'Love Island.' ”
At the time H-E-B’s acquisition of Favor was announced, the San Antonio-based company said, “With this powerful partnership, H-E-B accelerates its path to become a digital retail industry leader in Texas, enabling customers to choose how they shop, pay for and receive products. The partnership also complements H-E-B’s brick-and-mortar operations by growing its online presence to meet customers’ evolving needs and expectations.”
Just two years later, H-E-B and the world were thrown into a pandemic that would make online grocery ordering and delivery more critical than ever. While the surge in consumer demand for delivery coupled with labor shortages amplified by the pandemic created hiccups for many grocers and delivery services in the last year, H-E-B/Favor is clearly coming out swinging with this new campaign.
With the rise of innovative retail foodservice programs and in-store dining concepts, the lines between grocery stores and restaurants are increasingly blurred. And as consumers increasingly turn to supermarkets for both convenient meals and sit-down dining experiences, H-E-B is investing in the further extension of its brand beyond grocery stores with the launch of a new seafood eatery and expanded in-store pizza offerings.
The San Antonio-based retailer on Jan. 26 debuted True Texas Boil House, a new grab-and-go concept featuring Cajun-inspired seafood baskets, sides and items sold by the pound. Located on the front patio of the H-E-B store at 10100 Beechnut St. in Houston, the free-standing venue will be open Fridays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Mondays from 3 to 9 p.m.
The menu at H-E-B’s new 625-square-foot eatery offers fried seafood baskets featuring catfish, shrimp and combos; boiled crawfish, jumbo head-on Gulf shrimp, easy-peel shrimp and snow crab legs; as well as an array of side dishes, such as Cajun fries, southern hush puppies, coleslaw and seasoned corn and potatoes.
Inspired by the popularity of H-E-B’s parking lot crawfish broils in its Houston locations, the venue features an order window where customers can take their meals to go or grab a seat at an outdoor table, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“About 10 to 12 years ago, stores started doing crawfish boils in tents,” Chavel Melchor, perishable leader of the Beechnut H-E-B told the Houston Chronicle. “True Texas Boil House makes things more efficient. We are able to produce at a faster rate for customers and support the needs of the community.”
In addition to its new True Texas Boil House, H-E-B also recently expanded the menu items at its South Flo Pizza in-store restaurant concept. First launched in 2016, South Flo Pizza is located inside 11 stores, available daily for lunch and dinner. The eatery’s new offerings include an 8-inch personal-sized pizza for $7. At half the size of the eatery’s traditional 16-inch pizza, which is available for $10, the new personalized item can serve as a meal for one person or a quick snack to share, the retailer said, and is made to order, featuring all the same flavor options as the larger sizes, including supreme, pepperoni, meat and cheese.
H-E-B also expanded South Flo Pizza’s beer selection and introduced wine options—including Chardonnay, Cabernet and a red blend—to its daily happy hour special, available from 4 to 7 p.m. for $10. The retailer expects to roll out happy hour specials involving the new personal-size pizzas sometime early next year.