Asda goes for gnomes in the price war – but UK supermarkets have forgotten how advertising works

UK supermarkets are embroiled in a price war following the depredations of German discounters Aldi and Lidl – and the ‘surf above it all’ success of Waitrose, of which more later – so there ain’t going to be much proper advertising.

Asda, the Walmart-owned British operation, appears to have survived these things better than most and, with new agency VCCP, seems to have decided that gnomes are the way to go.

I’m a bit resistant to gnomes (especially in gardens) but there you are.

Here come the gnomes.

And it makes the point, which VCCP is very good at.

But it’s hardly Lowe Howard-Spink’s great work for Tesco in the 1990s or David Abbott’s stuff for Sainsbury’s ten years before. The only brand advertising you get for supermarkets is at Christmas – when they’re all doing it so these ambitious efforts get lost in the rush.

All these companies have got serried ranks of creative agencies, media agencies, every other sort of agency you could shake a stick at.

And they’re still too dim to realise that it’s sensible to advertise your brand values when everybody else is doing something else. Don’t media agencies have a view on this? They certainly should have.

Oh, as to Waitrose. Waitrose boss, the famed ‘chubby grocer’ Mark Price, is basking in his success. But lots of the shops are tired (Brent Cross in north London), too little stock and too few staff (Crouch End) and the website doesn’t work. Neither do the self-service tills.

He’ll be found out one of these days.

You May Also Like

About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.