Dave Nichol, the popular pitchman for the Loblaws grocery store chain in Canada, has died at age 73.
The Chatham, Ont., native appeared in television ads for Loblaws in the 1980s and '90s, pitching products for the President’s Choice and No Name brands.
Many of the products Nichol is responsible for remain popular, including the Decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie.
In the early '80s, Nichol also introduced the Insider’s Report, a flyer telling stories of the products his brands bring to consumers.
He excelled at creating stories around the products, as with his “Memories of...” series which brought flavours from all over the world into Canadian supermarkets.
Nichol raised the bar on what consumers expected from supermarkets, said Anne Kingston, who wrote his biography The Edible Man.
In an interview with CBC News, she recalled how backward Canadian supermarkets were when Nichol burst onto the scene in the 1970s, first with the No Name products in their yellow packaging and later with the more upscale President’s Choice products.
“The idea that packaged food could be in any way gourmet or upscale was pretty alien, particularly in Canada,” Kingston said.
“You saw things like extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar — he downscaled very upscale products and made them accessible."
Nichol loved food and travelled widely, part of the story he presented with his products.
“He was driven by finding the best, the next," she said. "Interestingly, he was not at all interested in the mass market for himself. He was a consumer of luxury brands."
At the same time, he pursued a strategy that created a strong image for Loblaws, pushing aside the national brands and creating something better for a good price, she said.
A statement from Loblaw Companies Limited praised Nichol as an innovative marketer who left a lasting mark on the company.
"We are deeply saddened and our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave's family," said chairman Galen G. Weston.
"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. He will be missed by all who had the opportunity to work with him and benefit from his guidance and friendship."
Nichol left Loblaws in 1993, going on to work for subsidiary Cott Corporation and also forming his own retail consulting firm.