Sainsbury’s changes tack

jsjamie.jpgThe latest TV ad (clip at David Reviews) for Sainsbury’s features Jamie Oliver as usual only there’s a distinct change in tone.

Instead of our Jamie doing a pseudo-report on the quality of the food we now have a psuedo-investigation of Sainsbury’s claim to have lowered 6000 prices from last year.

Somehow Jamie’s glottal stops (quali’y) and use of f instead of th (fink) don’t really convince me of his journalistic credentials.

Oh dear. I’ve always found celebrity endorsement a weary branding strategy. An admission that the brand itself just isn’t interesting enough. This new version compounds the problem by the awkward hitching of an old strategy onto a new one. We’ve gone from quality-led (sorry, quali’y-led) to price-led and the cracks are showing.

I was quite surprised to find the store manager being interviewed by Jamie conceding that the place might have been too expensive in the past. Whoa there. I suppose I could approve of the honesty of this statement, but you know it doesn’t feel very honest to me.

If Sainsbury’s really want to admit to having been too pricey in the past I’d like a bit of emotional collatarel. Like an apology for instance. Instead, we get the usual trick of the lover-caught-in-an-affair, a hasty claim to have changed for the better. It’s the haste and clumsiness of the whole thing that stands out.

I really doubt anyone at either the agency or Sainsbury’s take any pride at all in this ad. Jamie himself looks like a man with a troubled stomach too.

I would hazard that this is the sort of clumsy tactic that the company is having to resort to in an effort to keep the City boys at bay. And we know how impatient those guys are for easy solutions.

It’s a shame, I always liked Sainsburys. Used to work for them in fact. There’s something a bit undignfied about their current plight and advertising fluff is no solution. In fact, it’s a pretty clear sign that the conversations inside Sainsbury’s are not very smart at the moment.

Here’s what David has to say

The language is deliberately soft but the implication is loud and clear: Sainsbury’s has been charging you too much. A quite astounding admission. And it’s an approach that may backfire if consumers come to the perfectly reasonable conclusion that Sainsbury’s previous message that they had to charge a little more than their rivals in order to achieve better quality was fundamentally false.

Sainsbury’s is in danger of becoming the supermarket equivalent of the Conservative Party – willing to say just about anything they think the punters want to hear in a desperate bid to restore their fortunes. And, as with the hapless Tories, it may end in tears.

5 thoughts on “Sainsbury’s changes tack

  1. Johnnie Moore

    Does the average punter really read so much into an advert? I’m guessing if they are Jamie fans (and judging by the book sales there are still many of them about) these adverts would appeal to them.

    In terms of doing a job of fighting for a bigger piece of the mindshare between the big supermarkets – at the least it is doing an equal job to the likes of Asda and Tesco (personally I think it is better).

    The problem with Sainsbury’s right now is their supply chain – an inability to get the right things in the right quanitities to ths shelfs at the right time. They need a solution on that front quick – no amount of advertising good or bad is going to help them if they don’t get the supply chain right.


    Ron: Thanks for your comment, and you could easily be right. Mabye for lots of people this ad will just be background noise and it’s not going to make a lot of difference. Or maybe they will have some vague positive assocation with Jamie O.

    I was interested in what you said about the supply chain. Makes sense to me but I’m not an expert.

    The point I come back to is what ads tell us about the quality of conversations an organisation hosts. Ads with mediocre thinking suggest to me mediocre conversations elsewhere.

  2. hugh macleod

    When marketing at such a grand scale, can the TV advertising be any more than “background noise”? – and possibly no one better to make that noise for you than Jamie 😉

    The true conversations should be happening at the store level, in how the products are laid out, the types of products, availablilty of products, freshness of products, ease of checkout, ease of parking, friendliness of staff etc etc


    The Jamie Oliver campaign is slowly becoming the most embarrassing TV campaign in Britain.

    Jamie Man-of-The-People Oliver trying to bring the “new post-Thatcher-era sincerity” schtick to the Sainsbury brand… and it comes off REALLY phony.

    I’m not sure who’s brand is suffering more- Jamie’s or Sainsbury’s. It’s like they’ve taken some brand-suicide pact.

  3. Steve Pearce

    Something is definitely rotten in the state of J.Sainsbury…I happened on this thread after returning just now from my local store. Empty shelves, angry customers, embarrassed staff, closed checkouts… Out of business by this time next year? The speed with which hubris can destroy these behemoths should alarm anyone who works in high street retail…and no amount of Soviet style propaganda – even if fronted by cheeky Jamie – is gonna fool anyone who can’t lay their hands on a box of Shreddies…

  4. Johnnie Moore

    Steve: Thanks for the comment. What you say echoes Ron’s comment on the supply chain.

    I believe the wishful thinking of their advertising is a sign of a business that can’t carry on an honest conversation with itself.

    I would bet money that some straight talking would allow their hard-working, demoralised staff to turn things round. Advertising BS will not.

  5. Thomas

    I am sainsburys biggest fan i think they are the best shop so shop there now better than asda and tesco tesco quality is disgusting. FROM THOMAS AGED 12


Leave a Reply to Johnnie Moore Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.