For decades any unnecessary frippery was strictly taboo at discounter Aldi. Brands were forbidden. Interior design was kept to the bare minimum. And television adverts were out of the question, at least for Germany.
But that all seems to be in the past now.
First they introduced freshly baked bread, then the big brands like Coca-Cola and Pampers started to creep in. Efforts were even made to improve the spartan decor.
And from this Sunday onwards, Aldi will be beaming their brand into German living rooms for the first time ever.
Up until now the supermarket has stuck to newspaper advertising and flyers – and the message has always been the same: how cheap the prices are.
But the new television advert is a break with the past.
Rather than just emphasize the low cost, with the slogan “Einfach ist mehr” (Simple is more) the supermarket is billing itself as a shelter against the hectic consumerist world where we are overwhelmed with choice.
In one advert, children complain about how complicated adults make the world.
“We don’t need a supermarket that’s so big that you can’t decide what to buy. Why do you think that you need more?” the child narrator kid asks.
“Just pick the right one and free yourself from the rest,” he advises over footage of kids playing with sticks and jumping into lakes.
How well the advert is received remains to be seen. But Aldi is playing catch-up. Arch rival Lidl has been investing millions in advertising spots for years with campaigns such as “Lidl lohnt sich” (Lidl pays off) or their current campaign “Du hast die Wahl” (You have the choice).
Aldi is keeping its cards close to its chest on the cost of its virgin campaign. But a report by market research firm Nielsen on Lidl’s 2015 ad spots showed that the costs can stretch into the tens of millions of euros.
Nevertheless, Aldi is determined to shed its image as being a purveyor only of cheap goods. And that is because Germans seem every more willing to splash the cash on quality, as research by the Society for Consumer Research (GfK) shows.
But there is another reason they are loosening the purse strings. While older customers have remained loyal to the supermarket, younger shoppers often flit between Aldi and Lidl.
With this in mind, they have produced an advert to appear in the cinema with Zeus as an Aldi customer and have also teamed up with rapper Fargo to produce a song on the theme “simplicity”.
In one way though, Aldi is still sticking to its roots. Unlike all of its competitors, it is yet to have its own online shop. But even that could change – in the UK the discounter now sells wine as well as a variety of special offers online.