Sainsbury’s changes tack

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

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.

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