Tag Archive for sainsburys

Fun in the Aisles as Supermarket Sweep Continues

Simon Brown, Account Director

Big events, sporting or otherwise, usually bring with them months or even years of build-up and speculation only for the event itself to be a bit dull and uninspiring. Not so the grocery sector that has flipped this on its head in recent years.

For the last decade, discussions in retail boardrooms and shop floors across the country have been centred on consolidation, with an unprecedented level of speculation, but no action. There was plenty of shadow boxing but no punches thrown. Rumours met with carefully worded press statements neither ruling in or out said comings together or splits (I should know having written many of these statements in a former life). This went on for years but last year we finally saw the first signs that consolidation was real and was going to happen on a big scale.

Sainsbury’s and Asda‘s proposed merger is big news, or at least it would be were it not for the activity we’ve seen in the sector over the last 18 months. There’s been more thrills and spills in the grocery market than an episode of Supermarket Sweep. The Tesco and Booker merger got the CMA’s green light, as did the Co-op’s purchase of Nisa. There’s a definite feeling that nothing can surprise us now. In fact, perhaps the most surprising thing about this announcement was Mike Coupe singing to himself while waiting to be interviewed, and of course his choice of song.

Sainsbury’s and Asda are not alone in having taken a hit from the discounters in recent years. Aldi and Lidl may have opened in the UK in the early 1990s but they really came to the fore during the credit crunch and recession when it became ‘OK’ for the masses to hunt out cheaper alternatives. Rather than one big shop, customers quickly moved to making several shopping lists and buying their groceries in a pick and mix style from multiple shops.

Sir Ken Morrison said the secret to running a successful supermarket is quite simply “taking money off people and giving them something in return” but the challenge in recent years has been how to get the customers into big supermarkets in the first place. Like the proverbial oil tanker, it has taken a long time for the ‘big four’ to turn things around and win back customers.

With these changes comes uncertainty and businesses must ensure that its diverse group of stakeholders are kept informed throughout. Employees, suppliers and customers will all be very keen to understand the finer details of this deal. Will suppliers be hammered down even more on price? Probably. Are customers concerned that their store could close? Almost certainly. Will employees be concerned about job cuts? Most definitely. The PR machines behind these big businesses will have meticulously planned their communications in minute detail to communicate as needed with these audiences. I very much doubt, however, that Sainsbury’s PRs could have guessed that the first crisis this proposed merger would throw up was to deal with the CEO’s rendition of ‘We’re in the Money’.

Working with businesses to develop and implement these multi-audience communications programmes is what we do at Acceleris & Limelight. Over the last decade our team has helped businesses navigate change, from implementing new supply chains, to merging several brands under one new brand, and successfully delivers campaigns for businesses small and large.

If you want to find out how we could help you, or to learn more of our retail expertise, email me at simonbrown@acceleris-mc.com or call me on 0845 456 7251.

Mog vs #ManOnTheMoon

It’s that time of year again when we all come together to give our two pence worth on a contest to determine who comes out on top at Christmas – no, not the X Factor or I’m a Celeb – it is, of course, the battle of the Christmas adverts.

It’s a relatively new festive tradition that has seen increased public interest in the last few years, but the inventiveness and messaging behind the adverts causes excitement and shows the power advertising still holds in terms of reaching target audiences and positioning the brand favourably at the busiest time of the year for retailers.

This year’s head to head sees the offerings #ManOnTheMoon from John Lewis and beloved children’s literary character Mog the Cat come to life in Sainsbury’s advert (for Generation Adblock who may not have seen them yet, links to the adverts below), continuing the contest from last year when John Lewis’ Monty the Penguin faced off against Sainsbury’s depiction of Christmas in the trenches. So, how do they compare?


John Lewis certainly loves pulling at the heartstrings in its campaigns, and this year is no different. The spirit of giving and sharing with those less fortunate or who have nobody is the main theme and done in a very creative way. The social media frenzy that followed the advert’s launch shows how effective the brand is at getting tongues wagging (22,429 tweets and retweets in the first hour of mostly positive sentiment). John Lewis has also launched an app in conjunction with the advert to help countdown the phases of the moon until Christmas – this year will be the first full moon on Christmas day since 1977 – a nice touch. Oh, you can also buy the little girl’s telescope from the retailer too.

However, did you know that the advert was made in association with Age UK in a bid to tackle loneliness this Christmas? Probably not. The advert certainly doesn’t mention it and the webpage http://www.johnlewis.com/christmas-advert doesn’t reference Age UK until you’ve scrolled halfway down. So, by isolating the charity from the campaign, isn’t John Lewis really doing the opposite of what it’s supposed to be encouraging others to do?

Mog’s Christmas Calamity:

Ah, Mog! A perennial figure in my childhood (I was born in 1992) and I’m sure many others will say the same – with the exception of Account Manager Jack Williams who had absolutely no clue about Mog or the books! The advert depicts Mog’s Christmas and sees the mischievous cat causing, and subsequently rescuing the family from, a fire on Christmas Day.

With Christmas seemingly ruined, the family head back into their fire-damaged house only for their neighbours to join them in restoring the house and preparing a new Christmas dinner all in time for lunch! ‘Christmas is for sharing’ flashes across the screen in the final scene, followed by ‘Sainsbury’s – Supporting child literacy with Save the Children’ and the point of the advert becomes clear. Sainsbury’s is proud to state its partnership with the charity and by recreating a well-loved feel-good Christmas story, draws the viewer in. The book ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ was specially written for the campaign and can be bought at Sainsbury’s along with cuddly toys of the cat with all profits going towards Save the Children’s child literacy programmes.

The verdict:

Winner – Sainsbury’s

Although John Lewis’ advert is very well-made and more of an integrated campaign than Sainsbury’s, I can’t help but feel it misses the point it’s supposed to be putting forward by placing its own agenda above its partner’s. Sainsbury’s ad however has a really uplifting feel and is very clear in its support of charity, without making the mistake of potentially trivialising serious events by trying to directly sell any products, as it did last year with its wartime chocolate. Besides, John Lewis should have left ‘Half the World Away’ alone.