Will Wieden’s ‘food dancing’ deliver for Sainsbury’s?

Over the (mostly) AMV years Sainsbury’s advertising has been noted for its measured, even stately mien.

This was invented by the late David Abbott, who also wrote most of the ads in the early days. Sainsbury’s stood for middle class values to which millions of customers aspired. Some things have changed a bit over the years but the overall tone has remained broadly similar. Last year’s parting shot from what’s now AMV BBDO, its high-scoring Christmas animated commercial, was part of the same tradition.

Now though the account has moved to Wieden+Kennedy and, while the agency may now be a venerable resident of Shoreditch, its commitment to all things ‘yoof’ is as strong as ever. Delivered in spades in its debut Sainsbury’s campaign ‘Food Dancing.’ It’s obviously hoping MysDiggi’s ‘Yum Tum Yum will be a viral hit.

Sainsbury’s director of brand communications Mark Given says: “The excitement and energy created by our #fooddancing film is the perfect antidote to how our customers tell us they feel in January. Why should one month of the year have less opportunity to live well than any other? Having fun in the kitchen is a big part of living well. Whether you are whipping up your signature dish or just having a cheese sandwich, making something to eat is a joy. So let’s celebrate it.”

W+K creative director Sophie Bodoh says: “We didn’t want to tell people how to live well. We wanted to celebrate real people who are already living well in kitchens all over the country.”

Colleague Scott Dungate says: “Key to our approach was creating a strong look and feel. We think authentic black and white portraiture, vibrant colourful food overlay, and big, bold orange type is a great way to give Sainsbury’s real freshness and energy in a very crowded category.”

There’s lots of multi-media stuff too, with the aid of Analogfolk, Gravity Road and Seven, including the first Spotify Branded Moments in the UK.

A lot riding on this then, for W+K as well as Sainsbury’s. W+K has been gradually returning to form after its Tesco travails. Sainsbury’s has a fight on its hands against a renascent Tesco on one hand and the discounters on the other.

So what would the great copywriter have made of this?

“Hmm. Rather frenetic but really rather good.”

Who are we to argue? Smashed it, as he definitely wouldn’t have said.

MAA creative scale: 9.

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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.


  1. I saw this new Sainsburys ad on TV this morning for the first time.

    My very first thought was “is this the new Lurpak ad?”

    It is uncannily similar to previous Lurpak ads, so it came as no surprise that the same ad agency (W+K) created both campaigns.

    I think W+K have demonstrated a lack of creativity with this new ad, and focusing on the “live well for less” hook could prove fatal. This tag line is not truly representative of the Sainsburys offering – they cannot and do not compete on price. Shoppers looking to “live well for less” know that they are better placed at the discount retailers – Aldi or Lidl. Sainsburys took a significant decision to withdraw their ‘brand match’ offer, because they don’t want to be in a price war with Tesco and Asda (who are both committed to winning business back from the discount retailers).

    A missed opportunity to reposition.

  2. Disgruntled Creative

    Have to agree with Victoria Allen. They need a new positioning that is uniquely Sainsburys. This feels a bit more Mum dancing than anything else. Too much of the ‘user generated’ stuff happening already. Very surprising from W+K.

  3. Absolutely shocked that you, or anyone, could think this is good. It’s completely insubstantial and says nothing.

  4. Awful, St Vitus Dance (Sydenham’s chorea) in full progress. Second rate thinking from dislocated third rate ‘modern’ post truth minds.

    Sainsbury people who commissioned and accepted this should be sent to a dark room for months.

    Talked to staff in local store and they hated the adverts.

  5. Rarely have I ever loathed an advertising campaign as much I do this one, with it’s contrived characters and over the top exaggerated politically correct stereotypes. Not to mention the awful soundtrack. My local Sainsburys -which I used to enjoy visiting every day- is now over run with huge banners depicting annoying people and incomprehensible words like ‘Mosh’ and ‘Twerk. ‘ Please stop it. I love Sainsburys, or at least I did, before this awful assault on my senses.

  6. This is brand differentiation taken to the nth degree with religious fervor.

  7. I couldn’t agree more with this article I think this campaign has “smashed it”. All I can take away from the comments, is a bunch of creative types that make campaigns for awards/to be creative not what the public want. There was no “missed opportunity” here Salisbury didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. So what W+K delivered I think is bang ‘on point’ another phrase that’s made it in to today’s common vernacular, sorry you’ll just have to come to terms with this. I’ve yet to meet anyone that doesn’t think this ad is anything thing but fun, relatable and irreverent in its nature. Its also refreshing to see a supermarket selling on values and creativity rather than price (outside of Christmas). As for the music, I do think that’s more of a personal taste thing but I love it. They sourced a credible underground artist that is know for being a great lyricist who has delivered an authentic and very catchy track. Get out you’re creative bubbles the general public doesn’t care.

  8. Simon Winstanley

    A truly awful advertising campaign that says and means nothing. Whoever signed it off and agreed to spend the budget on it should be fired.

  9. I don’t watch TV so I’ve not seen these ads nor heard the tune (nor viewed the embedded YoutTube in this article), but as a regular Sainsburys shopper I’ve seen the in-store banners every week since the beginning of this campaign and I just think “WTF?” each time I see them. I don’t listen to music in the kitchen and I certainly don’t dance whilst I’m cooking. It means nothing to me.

    Will Wieden’s ‘food dancing’ deliver for Sainsbury’s? I don’t know and I’d say I don’t care but gratuitous spending on naff ads when I could get a cheaper food bill without it means I just don’t buy it.

  10. A student idea, with a big budget.