Published On: April 23, 2024By

Marketing Campaign Calling Out the Cons of Self-Checkout Machines Recognized on a Global Platform

UpHouse’s marketing campaign with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 832 has been named as a finalist in the 16th Annual Shorty Awards for their Self-Reflect Before You Self-Check campaign in the Public Service Announcement category. 

The campaign addresses how self-checkouts in grocery stores have become a way for large corporations to potentially cut labour costs, squeezing hours and potential wages from their employees—while getting free labour from their customers.  

“We polled 400 grocery store workers to uncover their pain points with self-checkouts. Not only are the machines putting more work on the cashiers to troubleshoot issues, but corporations are reducing employees’ hours and cashier resources at the store,” said Brenlee Coates, Creative Director at UpHouse. “This prompted us to examine—if everyone is struggling with the user experience so much, who is self-checkout really working for?” 

To encourage people to reconsider which lane they choose at the grocery store, UpHouse took a satirical approach to waking people up to the “working for free” aspect of self-checkouts. The campaign video features a pandering voiceover as the self-checkout machine that launches into an impromptu “performance review” on the unwitting customers.   

“Not only was this campaign successful in creating awareness of the impact self-checkout machines have, but we’ve received requests from people wanting to get even more involved and asking how they can convey to cashiers that they support them. People are considering how their values can align with what we’re doing, even if it’s as simple as picking what grocery lane to go to,” said Jeff Traeger, President of UFCW Local 832. “As a finalist for a Shorty Award, this campaign will now increase awareness far beyond our prairie province. It’s a fantastic honour and a great opportunity to bring our members’ voices to a larger audience.” 

“The attention the campaign has received is a testament to our client being brave with pushing the envelope with the creative. They were completely comfortable showing the awkwardness of self-checkout and getting imaginative with the idea of self-checkout as an overbearing boss, and we’re so glad to see that this leap paid off,” said Coates.

The Shorty Awards honour the best work in digital and social media by the most creative and influential brands, agencies, organizations, and individuals whose work has excelled in creativity, strategy, and effectiveness around the world. The UFCW Local 832 campaign is one of six finalists in the Public Service Announcement category. The winners and honourees are chosen by the Real Time Academy—a panel of prominent experts and leaders in digital and social media who have been hand-selected based on their deep industry knowledge, professional reputation, and outstanding achievements, including previous Shorty wins. 

The 16th Annual Shorty Awards winners will be announced at the in-person celebration on May 22, 2024, at Tribeca 360º in New York City.