Adwatch: Sainsbury's - 'Spice world'

Don't mention Jamie Oliver in mixed company. You will almost certainly find yourself speckled in hummus, adjudicating between the believers and the sceptics.

Being even-handed by nature, I used to sit on the fence on matters Jamoid. Sure, his public persona grates and his Sainsbury's ads can jar more than a little. And maybe it takes more than fashionably dropped aspirates to earn the right to slag off working-class mums about what they feed their kids. Still, he acts, he effects change and he touches people's lives in ways that this adman can't really sniff at. In the process he has transformed himself from the Tommy Steele to the Sting of celebrity chefs, which is a repositioning one can but admire.

But not as much as the repositioning achieved by Sainsbury's over the past couple of years. Not so long ago it was the posh shop that had fallen to earth, its shelves as empty as its aisles and promises. But 'Try something new today' is a beautiful positioning idea, albeit dressed in some ugly language, and with it Sainsbury's seems to have rediscovered its mojo. Let Tesco do every little thing to help itself to every little bit of our wallets - Sainsbury's wants to be the home of food ideas. And ideas are ultimately more precious than service or range or price.

I find little to like in its latest ad, though. There are two issues. One is a matter of seasoning and spices and the other of recipe. This quasi-Dickensian romp ultimately lacks flavour. I suspect the ghost of good taste haunted the production, inhibiting all those involved from expressing the righteous camp needed to truly pull it off. Where are the dancing marmosets? Who edited out the exploding plum puddings and the high-stepping formation llamas? Moderation has no place at Christmas and even less in Christmas advertising.

More fundamentally, I think that Jamie has become something of a problem for Sainsbury's. The singed smell of overexposure lingers in the London smog of this ad, telling of a brand property that has been overcooked by the glare of other people's flash bulbs.

Please, Mr Oliver Sir, can we have no more?

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