Asda vows to keep price message core with bumper Christmas campaign

Stephen Smith, chief marketing officer, Asda
Stephen Smith, chief marketing officer, Asda

Asda will relaunch its brand positioning next month, when the first of 41 different ad creatives hits TV for the festive period.

Speaking to Marketing at the annual IGD grocery convention this week, chief marketing officer Stephen Smith revealed that the relaunch campaign from newly-hired VCCP Blue had been brought forward from January to November.

The campaign, which will be "dramatically reinforced" in January, will still keep price at the forefront, while also emphasising quality.

"Moving away from price is definitely Sainsbury’s and Tesco's strategy," said Smith. "I wouldn't see it the same way; I actually think that price can still be a differentiator and we think we can still own and dominate that space."

I think price can still be a differentiator and Asda can still own and dominate that space.

He added: "It has to be more than price, so we do have to add in a better equation around quality and offer better value for our customers."

The new campaign represents a "completely new approach", which will include a "more balanced message," said Smith, adding: "I wouldn't want to over sell it but it's really good."

Asda announced it had hired VCCP in August, replacing Saatchi & Saatchi, which had held the £100m account since 2009. "We gave [VCCP] the ultimate challenge: the moment they won, we asked them if they could do November and December, as they were going to launch in January."

"We have 41 different tv spots in production right now, all for the fourth quarter, and all from an agency we just hired six weeks ago. It's absolutely amazing," said Smith.

Stephen Smith on…


* Focusing on a low price message:

"We're definitely not moving away from a price message. We have the lowest cost base and that is something that our customers are craving.
I actually see in the market that other retailers are moving away from price, moving towards other areas. But I think there is a huge portion of the UK that needs to be reassured with price, with real pricing, not matching, not gimmicks or vouchers but real true honest EDLP pricing - and we have to improve our quality. I would never want anyone to think that Asda would move away from price as it's something we own and hold very deep."


Asda has a challenger spirit that can be combative with a friendly personality, with a bit of fun and a bit of tongue in cheek.

* Hiring VCCP Blue:

"What I love is that through the briefing process the agency truly captured us. Asda has a personality and Asda has a challenger spirit that can be combative with a friendly personality, with a bit of fun and a bit of tongue in cheek. They've captured that personality really well.
One of my observations coming in was that we have so many assets, so many pieces of ammunition we could use, but we simply weren't deploying those in a way that was memorable and meaningful. They've helped us capture that and as a result you will see a very different look and feel and very different approach."

* Efficient adspend:

"This campaign is not necessarily more spend, as you can be efficient. Quantity doesn't necessarily mean cash; you can be quite innovative. The challenge I've had coming in is that in any retail market, for retail advertising you've got to create things that you can produce very quickly and efficiently because you want to be on air in the moment with different ads and different offers. That doesn’t mean you have to spend lots of money."

My predisposition is that it’s dangerous to attach your brand to a celebrity.

* Celebrities in ads:

"I’m a little bit opposed to attaching a brand to celebrities. That’s not to say if something was presented to me that was really compelling and really spot with our brand, I wouldn’t be opposed to it as a voice. But as a personal feeling it’s dangerous to attach to your brand to another person. And it’s hard to find a person who captures exactly where you want to go as a brand. I will always be open if the agency comes and says we have something. But my predisposition is that it’s dangerous."


There are 100,000 self-styled social media gurus... but it's not complex; it's just communication.

* Social media:

"There are 100,000 self-styled social media gurus and we're busting a gut about what we need to do on Twitter and elsewhere. But it's not complex; it's just communication. It's the most sensitive of media as it's real conversations. Marketing can't be considered a one-way street; it's customer-led, not business-led. The #chosenbyme activity [on Twitter] is not a social media campaign, it’s how we plan to do business as we go forward."


We need to start showing consumers how they can spend even less money with Asda.

* Helping consumers save money:

"Rather than just selling, we increasingly need to consider how to help. We need to start showing consumers how they can spend even less money with Asda - that may sound strange. We need to get across the message to consumers that we greatly care about the money left in their wallets at the end of their shop."


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