Sometimes you just can’t win, no matter what you do.

Take Tesco. They had a terrible 2015, and 2016 hasn’t been too kind so far, either. Last Wednesday the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) took Tesco to task, saying one of its long-standing advertisements – one that Tesco has used as a USP for ages – is ‘misleading’ and ‘unclear’.

It’s their brand guarantee, whereby Tesco says shoppers will never pay more for their branded shop. ASA has outright banned the ad but Tesco refuses to change the deal out of principle. Instead they’ve changed the wording on their print advertisements.

The issue’s to do with the small print which states “Minimum basket of 10 different products, including one comparable branded product. Total price of branded grocery shop compared with Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s and if cheaper elsewhere the difference will be taken off your bill.” Never doesn’t seem to mean never, in this case.


Every Little Helps? Why a little digital adjustment is all the help Tesco needs


Around the same time, though, out comes Morrisons announcing that it has struck up a deal with Amazon with a digital first amongst the four big supermarkets in the United Kingdom. The partnership gives Morrisons access to Amazon’s Prime Now and Pantry services, extending their reach with potential new customers and getting them fresher foods to their homes. Share prices jumped following the announcement of the deal, while similar service Ocado’s dipped by eight per cent.

Suddenly a poorly-worded print ad from Tesco becomes a double-whammy, making it look like it wants to mislead its customers while its nearest competitors are indulging in leading digital services that put shoppers first.

Why mention this? Because I find it fascinating that we’re in 2016 and big brands like Tesco are still advertising by telling, and not communicating. Deeper still there appears to be a digital strategy built on shifting sand.

Tell us your story. Have you ever been stuck in a rut like Tesco and had your strategy called into question? How did you deal with it? Let me know in the comments section below.


Yes, Tesco can’t win at the moment, and sometimes luck just isn’t with you. But it’s hard to escape the feeling that their strategy just isn’t moving with the times. Their Christmas adverts, for example, have been regularly featured on ‘worst of’ lists with one even attracting criticism of harassment.

a quick search for ‘Tesco digital strategy’ shows three stories published with 18 months of each other, all with wildly different messages.Not the best reaction, especially when their closest competitors were literally shooting for the moon and tying seriously creative content in with refined digital calls to action to help drive traffic online to boost sales and converse with customers.

We’ve been mentioning a lot of techie stuff lately so it’s time to swing back to the creative side of inbound marketing. Because we really don’t think it would take much of a readjustment for a big company like Tesco to converse better with customers and align with a more digital audience.

The tools are there and are constantly coming out thick and fast. Livefyre has recently announced Storify 2, an updated version of its popular Storify software which has helped countless companies engage with its audience.

Facebook has rejigged its algorithm to rank live videos higher in people’s news feeds to tackle Twiter’s Periscope, while LinkedIn has updated its software to allow advertisers to use their own data to target people similar to other networks’ custom audiences abilities.

Getting a creative campaign out there to a target audience has never been easier, but I feel that there’s a deeper issue with Tesco’s overall strategy. Take a look at the picture on the right; a quick search for ‘Tesco digital strategy’ shows three stories published with 18 months of each other, all with wildly different messages.

How do you find Tesco’s online strategy? Is it as good as that offered by the other big four supermarkets, or are they lagging behind? Let me know in the comments section below.

Three’s a crowd

Tesco’s been through the mill for a while but these three stories suggest that its digital strategy is something of an afterthought that changes with the wind. 2014 saw then-CEO Philip Clarke – along with UK managing director Chris Bush – outline a “bricks and clicks” future based around a digitised Clubcard.

Fast forward a year and Clarke is gone, with new Tesco CEO Dave Lewis bringing in an entirely new management structure to guide the group and attract investment. In-store, new-style self-express checkouts are installed, while investment concentrates on expanding e-Commerce services abroad.

And, toward the end of 2015, another strategy shift with the retailer looking to jump-start its ‘Every Little Helps’ motto to try and ‘build a brand personality and take a humourous (sic) tone’. If their Christmas adverts were borne from that desire then God help us all…

In the same article you can see the heavy desire for Tesco to keep focusing on print, which brings us back full circle to the ad that got it into trouble with the ASA.


Tesco’s been through the mill for a while


“We are being very disciplined not to spend money to tell people things they already know. If there is an offer on a leg of lamb, we are not going to talk about that if our competitors are also going to talk about that a few pages later [in a newspaper],” said Michelle McEttrick, Tesco’s group brand director.

Don’t get us wrong; this isn’t an attack on Tesco and they have done a lot of interesting stuff online. But its troubles suggest that work hasn’t been good enough, especially with the rise of budget supermarkets and Morrisons seriously leaping ahead with a strong digital partnership with Amazon.

And we’re convinced it’s through a lack of producing the right kind of creative digital content for its modern market and not having a solid, long-term digital strategy that makes use of the tools available for a brand with Tesco’s resources.

Settle on a long-term, creative online strategy and we feel some of Tesco’s problems may start to ease if it can corner a younger online market; especially if it’s so desperate to reinvent its brand. Because a reliance on print, a shifting digital strategy and an eye on international markets means it won’t be able to help itself, let alone its customers.

If you’d like to know more about digital marketing and inbound advertising and how it can help to grow your business speak to a Webpresence representative today.