Is it time for Tesco to axe 'Every little helps'?

Tesco is using its £110m ad pitch to review the future of its long-standing strapline. We asked a panel of experts whether it's time for a change, or the line's 20-year heritage has greater value.

When Tesco put its creative ad account out to pitch in April, it said the review would help 'build a better Tesco' and that it was open to all ideas. However, few would have thought that its 20-year-old strapline, 'Every little helps' (ELH), might also be up for review.

It has emerged that a central part of the talks with agencies is whether ELH should be retained. The message is that there is a total commitment to change, so nothing is untouchable.

Being brave and relevant is key, according to Magnus Djaba, chief executive of Asda's ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi. While at Fallon, he led the team that axed Orange's 'The future's bright' in 2008.

'An endline has to be relevant and true for the people you're trying to reach and your brand,' he explains. 'In no category is this more important than retail, where people have regular first-hand experience of you.'

Opinion is split on what Tesco should do, but admiration for one of the best-known straplines is unanimous. Here we outline the arguments for keeping or reviewing ELH.

TIME FOR A CHANGE

Janet Lee

Owner of retail consultancy Benjanto, and former Tesco marketer for Express, Tesco.com and Clubcard

When ELH was created in 1992 it galvanised the business, becoming the DNA that held it together, focusing everyone on putting consumers first. With Tesco's challenges now, it is right that ELH is reconsidered and reviewed. Is it still valid, or is there something more appropriate? I would think that many consumers might look at ELH and question whether it is true. I would be desperately sad if ELH were culled without serious consideration, but would be sadder still if it was kept just because it's been around for 20 years.

Neil Saunders

Managing director of retail analyst Conlumino

The strapline has become ubiquitous to the point of being meaningless. If the proposition doesn't stack up against the spirit of the strapline, then it's a pointless, or even damaging, thing to have. A new strapline will help change views on Tesco, but only if the day-to-day shopping experience changes as well. A fresh start would be most beneficial. However, Tesco can't afford for something new to be a damp squib. Whatever it does, it needs to put the heart and soul of the business into it - otherwise it runs the risk of being greeted with scepticism.

Mark Sinnock

President, strategy and planning, Ogilvy APAC, and an ex-marketing director at Asda

If I had £1 for every time I've been asked for an 'Every little helps', I would be very rich. It has become a 'high church'; its nuance, flexibility and elasticity represent global marketing excellence. Tesco is at a crossroads; every part of the organisation is under stress as it searches for a way back to growth. The brand must create energy and re-engage customers. If ELH isn't helping, then it's time to search for a new direction, sensibility and focus that can give the brand the hit of adrenaline it needs.

HERITAGE WORTH KEEPING

Patrick Allen

Chief executive of consultancy One Degree Connect, and former executive director of marketing at The Co-operative Group

ELH has become part of the vernacular. However, whereas some words become generic, such as referring to a Dyson 'hoover', ELH has remained allied with Tesco. If it dropped the line, the competition would certainly be happy; everyone has tried to emulate ELH. Tesco should be looking at how to reinforce it, making it real for consumers, not throwing it out. It must consider whether it is as relevant today as it was 15 years ago, but I think in another 15 years it could still be relevant. If any brand has such gold dust, it should keep hold of it.

Angus Maciver

Chief executive of McCurrach, and former Morrisons group marketing director

A strapline is not that important; it is the proposition within the positioning that is, and a good strapline should summarise that well. In the case of ELH, it is a great embodiment of a service proposition that was applied to the whole shopping experience. Over time, however, it has narrowed in meaning due to the dominance of pricing messages in the advertising. It may be easier to rejuvenate ELH back to its roots, but would that be as exciting or refreshing as something new? My view from outside is that it could be salvaged, but I would understand if the Tesco team felt differently.

Mark Dickens

Retail consultant at Wanda, and founder of agency Astound, which was responsible for the Tesco rebranding activity in 2002 that brought ELH to the fore

To me it sounds like chopping off your leg because your toes are hurting. Sainsbury's changes its strapline regularly and as a result it doesn't mean a lot to people. Tesco, like a lot of companies, has stopped trying to make its strapline really mean anything. I'm sure (Tesco chief executive) Philip Clarke feels the temptation to make some sweeping changes, but it is not about three words; it's about how people feel about Tesco. ELH is emotionally versatile; the art of it is its ambiguity. It's a blank canvas that can apply to value, convenience, quality, availability and more. ELH transcends being just a strapline.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message