A Recessionary Product?
On March 21, 1978, Loblaw (Canadian grocer) launched “No Name” with 16 generic or unbranded items in black and yellow packaging. It was initially promoted as “basic products in plain packaging at down-to-earth everyday low prices”, No Name promised savings of between 10 and 40% over national brands.
The introduction of No Name, along with other generics, coincided with a period of rising inflation rates and consumer complaints regarding the high price of food. Two years earlier, French hypermarket Carrefour unveiled Produits Libres, a line of 50 unbranded products. Loblaw modelled No Name on Produits Libres. After two and a half weeks more than a million No Name units had been sold.
The original No Name packaging showed no branding – only text with a basic product description and name, such as “freshly ground coffee” or “fabric softener,” on a solid background. Toronto designer Don Watt chose black, boldface text in a Helvetica font, all lower case, on a bright yellow background, to attract shoppers.
No Name (French: sans nom) products are available in stores across Canada that include Loblaws, No Frills, Dominion, Real Canadian Superstore, Fortinos, Provigo, Maxi, and Shoppers Drug Mart. In 2019, Loblaw launched a multi-platform advertising campaign focusing on No Name, in its largest campaign for the brand since 2009 with a new stark website (just in time for the next recession!).