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New Jam campaign for Tesco Mobile shows challenge facing CEO Lewis when he gets to grips with marketing

Social media agency Jam, is one of the stars of Peter Scott’s Engine Group (actually now Lake Capital’s) and it tackles client Tesco Mobile with a certain vigour. Tesco Mobile seems to be one of the more attractive bits of the troubled retailer.

Presumably aimed at teenies/millenials. Topical (pumpkins), funny, fine.

But no reference to Tesco as an entity, which seems to be a missed opportunity. Maybe the Tesco Mobile clients want to keep as much distance between themselves and the rest of the creaking edifice as they can.

Or maybe it’s the advertising consequence of the company’s recent strategy, if such it be. This started with Terry Leahy’s Tesco using what we thought was the company’s tidal wave of cash (now somewhat illusory we find) to go into other parts of the world and other businesses like banking. Under the recently defenestrated Phil Clarke this morphed into ‘buy anything that moves’ – like Giraffe and Harris & Hoole – to fill up the bloody oversized stores.

Neither of which will hold much appeal for new CEO Dave Lewis. Advertising and marketing are probably way down his list as he embarks on a process of ‘re-education’ for top Tesco execs, taking them off to boot camp in Norfolk and flogging their absurd fleet of corporate jets. Which, along with a confident first presentation to City analysts, has bought him some time.

But, finances aside, he has to marshall his agencies – mainly Wieden+Kennedy but also Tag and Jam – and get them singing off the same, proverbial, hymn sheet. They’re a capable enough crew in their different ways and there aren’t that many alternatives around, given that AMV/BBDO has Sainsbury’s, adam&eveDDB has Morrisons digital work and John Lewis (which competes with Tesco on some fronts like clothing) and BBH has Waitrose. He probably has M&C’s Maurice Saatchi and one Sir Martin permanently on hold.

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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.
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