Sainsbury’s has vowed to keep faith with Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in the
battle to regain supremacy over Tesco, its arch-rival in the supermarket
In the face of growing speculation that Sainsbury’s pounds 40 million
account will have a new home before the end of the year, Kevin McCarten,
the company’s marketing director, this week gave the agency a blunt and
unequivocal vote of confidence.
‘Everybody wants to know when I’m going to ditch the buggers. But it
ain’t going to happen,’ he insisted.
But McCarten, the former Woolworths trading director who has spent
almost five months reviewing the company’s marketing strategy, said
future advertising would strike a more even balance between price and
He also predicted a drop in Sainsbury’s promotional budget - although he
declined to say by how much - as advertising becomes more tightly
McCarten gave a strong hint that Sainsbury’s may be ready to abandon its
long-running series of celebrity recipe commercials which have been
criticised for boosting sales at rival stores as much as Sainsbury’s
‘We haven’t decided not to continue running them,’ McCarten said.
‘They’ve provided us with a quality image, driven sales of new products
and given our customers a strong sense of belonging. But we are looking
Rumours of a split with Abbott Mead have been fuelled by Sainsbury’s
heavy emphasis on price-led advertising since Christmas. But McCarten
said the agency had consistently proved its ability to deliver.
‘It would be ludicrous to say a review has never crossed my mind,’ he
admitted. ‘But our brand has been well looked after by the agency and
I’m in the business of building long-term relationships. We’ve had a
good relationship with Abbott Mead and I’ve every intention of
A more balanced advertising programme will coincide with a series of
initiatives that will give the highest priority to customer service.
‘The price campaign has established us as a more aggressive competitor
and shown our determination to give customers what they want,’ McCarten
said. ‘It will continue and will be refreshed while we begin to get
across our choice and quality message.’ But he refused to be drawn on
whether or not Sainsbury’s will follow its rivals by launching a loyalty
Sainsbury’s strategy would revolve around offering the highest quality,
a superior choice and competitive prices, McCarten promised. ‘We’ve not
delivered on these as well as we could,’ he admitted. ‘Last year was
disappointing. Now we intend to do something about it.’
Feature, page 28