Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A big chain's likable face

  • Print

TORONTO -- Dave Nichol, the folksy pitchman for the popular President's Choice brand, didn't just change the face of grocery marketing in Canada, he became it.

Nichol appeared in TV ads and newsletters for the Loblaw's President's Choice and No Name brands in the '80s and '90s and was seen as an innovator who built the PC brand into one of the most recognized brands for the Loblaw grocery chain, and one of the country's top labels.

The native of Chatham, Ont., died Sunday at the age of 73.

Many of the Nichol's products are still on shelves, including the Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie.

"He really started the idea in marketing of 'We're not talking at you, we're talking with you,' and the idea of starting a dialogue with consumers," said David Soberman, a marketing professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

Nichol's success was tied to two key elements, he said.

"He actually had a very sort of friendly and honest personality on television. He was just sort of a likable person... that's something that's sometimes hard to find in marketing."

"Also, he delivered. He was very sensitive to the consumers that would buy the products and wouldn't do marketing that didn't lead to the President's Choice promise of 'We're going to offer you quality.' "

Before Nichol, private-label brands at grocery stores were seen as cheaper, lower-quality alternative to behemoth brands, such as Heinz and Kraft. Not only was he able to change that attitude by creating an equivalent or better product, said Soberman, but he provided exclusivity by having them only available at Loblaw stores.

Nichol is also credited with introducing unique and, at the time, exotic food products to everyday shoppers. One of his most famous was a line of cooking sauces that came from Asia and Africa.

In addition to appearing on television, he was also in charge of the Insider's Report magazine, a flyer that highlighted specific brands Nichol had hand-picked and personally tested.

Loblaw described Nichol as "one of its most memorable colleagues," as well as a masterful marketer and was recognized both inside and outside Loblaw for his creativity and skill.

Nichol joined Loblaw in 1972 and held various roles with the company, including president of Loblaw Supermarkets and head of the product-development team.

"Dave's passion for food and his vision helped to transform the way Canadians eat, and he has left a tremendous legacy that endures in the company today," Galen G. Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw Companies Ltd., said in a statement.

Ken Hardy, a marketing professor emeritus at Western University's Richard Ivey Business School, said consumers bought President's Choice products largely because of Nichol.

"He was an articulate spokesperson who made it interesting," he said. "He was a self-promoter at the same time. He gave (products) a face, in this case, the President's face, and that was reassuring."


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 27, 2013 B6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


The Whiteboard - Evolution of Winnipeg Jets' Adam Lowry

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Down the Hatch- A pelican swallows a fresh fish that it caught on the Red River near Lockport, Manitoba. Wednesday morning- May 01, 2013   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


What do you think the punishment should be for Dustin Byfuglien's cross-check on New York Rangers forward J. T. Miller?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google