Editor’s note: Fay Latham is research associate at System1 Research, Paris. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared here under the title, “Battle of the supermarket love stories.”

Stepping away from product-pushing and pricing wars, French supermarket giants Intermarché and Monoprix have made the move to feeling. Using the classic boy meets girl love story template, the brands’ new three- and four-minute spots are more short film than classic ad.

In Intermarché’s L’amour L’amour a boy falls in love with the supermarket cashier. The three-minute ad shows him going back to the store daily, improving his cooking as he goes. Monoprix’s Lait Drôle la Vie (to celebrate its 80th birthday) riffs off a similar love story. In this four-minute spot, we see a young boy cutting out words of the Monoprix packaging to send as love notes to the girl he likes. In both ads we see a happily ever after ending – the boy and girl skip off into the sunset together, metaphorically speaking.

First, kudos to both brands, as these ads perform outstandingly in System1 Research’s testing. At 4- and 5-stars respectively, Intermarché and Monoprix generate high levels of happiness, particularly contentment and amusement. Both use strong storytelling and create large emotional peaks throughout showing how well the two ads engage the audience. Indeed neither is product-centric: it’s not about the story serving the product but the product serving the story. The story is the hero not the product.

Intermarché Facetracing

Monoprix Facetracing

But why does the Monoprix commercial work better?

Intermarché’s 4-star ad L’amour L’amour is an engaging ad thanks to its touching story of love set to a nice soundtrack. It is strongly associated with healthy food and people remain emotionally engaged throughout. However some do complain that the ad is too long. All negatives toward the ad...