The largest British supermarket chain Tesco recently published a series of advertisements promoting their policies, such as opening additional tills if there is more than one person in the queue and the price promise.
Tesco can hardly be called a champion in emotional advertising, which does make sense since it is difficult to imagine that anyone in the UK finds themselves emotionally attached to Tesco given several large scandals that had an impact on Tesco’s profit (e.g. the horsemeat scandal from 2013 or the more recent accounting scandal). On the other hand, the rise of discounters Lidl and Aldi (Kantar UK 2014; Kantar UK 2015) also had an impact on Tesco’s business, because of which last year’s financial result revealed a pre-tax loss of £6.4 billion, which was the biggest loss in the UK’s retail history (Ruddick, 2015).
These new adverts are a good example of the successful marketing communications given the fact they are re-assuring customers about Tesco’s price promise and concerns about waiting in queues. Research shows that British customers do not trust supermarkets when it comes to intentions behind CSR initiatives (Britt et al, 2015), and since 2012 available data systematically shows that customers in the UK increasingly dislike waiting in queues (YouGov 2012; De Lacey 2012; Horton 2015), which is where these adverts are meant to make an impact and increase customer’s visits to Tesco. The adverts also communicate Tesco’s dedication to customer service and honesty. Tesco’s group brand director Michelle McEttrick, said for Campaign Live (2015): “For the past year we’ve been putting customers right back at the heart of everything we do, from improvements in customer service, to launching our new Brand Guarantee”.
Tesco’s new advertising campaign can be considered as a successful attempt of reinforcing their position in the British market. If we look at the marketing model DRIP (differentiate, reinforce the brand’s message, inform and persuade; see Fill 2013 and Richardson et al 2015 for details), then we indeed see that Tesco is reinforcing the brand’s message by re-assuring customers they will receive their money back on their next shop if they are charged more for the same product than in ASDA, Sainsbury’s or Morrisons. On the other hand, the message of aiming to open a new till if there is more than one customer in the queue is clearly trying to inform and persuade customers that Tesco is the right place to shop given increased anxiety of British customers when it comes to waiting in queues.
Nevertheless, unlikely for other advertisements by Tesco, which were in my view either incomprehensible or even boring, these adverts use humour to gain attention and they do so in a good way. As consumer research has shown so far, humour has a significant impact on customers because it increases their energy and adrenalin, because of which they are more inclined to purchase certain products or services (Schiffman et al, 2013).
With this new campaign, Tesco introduced new family and their grocery shopping in Tesco. Ruth Jones (from Gavin and Stacey) plays the mum, Ben Miller (from The Armstrong and Miller Show) is the dad, and Will Close plays the son. Throughout adverts, they make statements in funny ways such as arguing with the sales assistant about price in the first advert, or thinking that the sales assistant is opening a new till because he likes them in the second advert.
A change of marketing agency (Campaign Live, 2015) might do well for Tesco because the new campaign seems better focused and more creative, and an increase in profit and customer’s visit is something much needed for a British giant that employs more than 300,000 Britons.
Thank you for reading.
Britt, D.; Lauritsen, K., & Perks, J. (2015). The influence of interactive, non-interactive and explicit CSR communication on young adults’ perception of UK supermarkets’ corporate brand image and reputation. Corporate Communications: An International Journal 20(2), 178-195.
Campaign Live (2015). Watch Tesco’s New TV Ads. Available at: http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/watch-tescos-new-tv-ads/1368843 (Accessed 23 October 2015)
De Lacey, M. (2012). The end of British queuing? How we are no longer prepared to wait in line for more than FOUR MINUTES (and why older women are the most patient, and young men the least). Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2229776/The-end-British-queuing-People-UK-prepared-spend-minutes-waiting-line.html (Accessed 23 October 2015)
Fill, C. (2013). Marketing Communications. Longman: Pearson.
Horton, H. (2015). The last person in the queue should be served first, scientific research suggests. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/11853867/The-last-person-in-the-queue-should-be-served-first-scientific-research-suggests.html (Accessed 23 October 2015)
Kantar UK (2015). UK: Morrisons return to growth and Lidl reach new share high. Available at: http://www.kantarworldpanel.com/global/News/UK-Morrisons-return-to-growth-and-Lidl-reach-new-share-high (Accessed 22 August 2015)
Kantar UK (2014). UKs grocery market enters deflation. Available at:
http://www.kantarworldpanel.com/global/News/UKs-grocery-market-enters-deflation (Accessed 28 October 2014)
Richardson, N.; James, J., & Kelley, N. (2015). Customer-Centric Marketing: Supporting Sustainability in the Digital Age. London: Kogan Page.
Ruddick, G. (2015). Tesco reveals biggest loss in UK retail history. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11555979/Tesco-reveals-biggest-loss-in-UK-retail-history.html (Accessed 23 October 2015)
Schiffman, L.; O’Cass, A.; Paladino, A., & Carlson, J. (2013). Consumer Behaviour. Longman: Pearson.
YouGov (2012). Britons ‘not willing to queue’. Available at: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2012/01/30/britons-not-willing-queue/ (Accessed 23 October 2015)