This week’s sector survey is proof that, in the vexed area of supermarkets and food retailers, advertising strategy is more important than advertising budget.

This week’s sector survey is proof that, in the vexed area of

supermarkets and food retailers, advertising strategy is more important

than advertising budget.

It is an extraordinary table topped by frozen food giant Iceland, which,

following the resignation of its pounds 13.5m account by WCRS last

autumn, moved back to its old agency, Manchester-based Tom Reddy


The pre-Christmas campaign through Tom Reddy obviously played a part in

moving Iceland from number three last year to first place this year, but

WCRS’s contribution is at least as important. The agency held the

business for two years and dropped the ’Mum’s gone to Iceland’ tag to

focus on variety and quality.

This strategy, as WCRS presumably advised, needed time. But the

retailer, faced with the first fall in pre-tax profits in its 25-year

history, launched a string of price promotions before returning to the

’cheap and cheerful’ strategy it dropped two years before.

In second place, for the second year, is Safeway, with Harry, Molly and

a pounds 28.3m super-budget. The campaign has even outgunned Asda - last

year’s number one and the 1997 number three. Publicis continues with the

’Asda price’ theme, which has performed well on a budget of just pounds

4.5m - around a seventh of the amount spent by Sainsbury’s, which

follows it in the table!

Troubled Sainsbury’s has, however, risen one place on last year,

although most pundits feel that, when it comes to the store’s

advertising, a change is in the wind. With the highest budget in the

sector - more than pounds 30m - the advertising should do better than a

55% prompted awareness rate.

Strangely, all the percentages are lower than last year. Even Iceland

only scores 65%, as against the previous number one’s percentage of


All of last year’s top five scored more highly than this year’s number

one, which perhaps shows few retail campaigns do much to capture the

public’s imagination, with the exception of Harry and Molly for


Somerfield, with a budget of pounds 18.4m, continues to move up the

table, from six to five, while Tesco drops from three to six, despite

the third largest budget in the sector. This year, however, Tesco is

expected to increase its spend dramatically, in a move which could have

a big impact on next year’s chart.

Shop talk

                                                   Recall      Spend,

        Brand        Agency/Media buyer                 %    pounds m

1  (3=) Iceland      Tom Reddy Advertising/TMD

                     Carat Manchester                  65        13.5

2  (2)  Safeway      Bates Dorland/Zenith              61        28.3

3  (1)  Asda         Publicis/TMD Carat                59         4.5

4  (5)  Sainsbury’s  Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO          55        30.9

5  (6)  Somerfield   Butler Lutos Sutton

                     Wilkinson/CIA Medianetwork        51        18.4

6  (3=) Tesco        Lowe Howard-Spink                 48        18.8

7  (7)  Kwik Save    McCann-Erickson Manchester/

                     Universal McCann                  28         7.3

8  (-)  Morrisons    Poulter/Media Solutions

                     Manchester                        20         6.6

9  (10) Spar         Tenet Advertising/CIA

                     Medianetwork                      18         0.8

10 (9)  Co-op        Robson Brown/Robson Brown

                     Media & JWT Manchester            15        15.5

Source: Register-MEAL


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