Nine months ago, Sainsbury’s launched its video ’wonderwall’ at its
store in Clapham, south London. The 17.5-metre wall was heralded as a
major advertising opportunity which would be seen by 20,000 drivers and
thousands of shoppers each day.
But last week, Sainsbury’s was forced to admit the wall was a flop. Few
advertisers had used it and shoppers could not actually see the TV
screens when the sun shone, although steps are now being taken to solve
The ’blunderwall’ may prove a lesson for supermarkets considering the
opportunities open to them as media owners.
Several have talked about launching in-store TV stations, while other
advertising possibilities already include trolleys, petrol pumps and
till receipts. But the most obvious media vehicle is the supermarket
Tesco is the latest supermarket chain to realise that there is money to
be made on the outside as well as the inside of its 550 stores.
It will shortly appoint an outdoor contractor to develop and sell
six-sheet sites at its stores. The shortlist has been whittled down to
Adshel and JC Decaux, which between them dominate the UK six-sheet
Adlight, an outdoor contractor specialising in the supermarket six-sheet
format, already manages 3000 sites, divided between Kwik Save,
Somerfield and Asda.
But what restrictions will the supermarkets place on advertisers, and
will the sites become a serious part of the media mix?
According to Adlight managing director Keith Smith, this type of
contract is completely different from the normal relationship between
landlord and contractor. ’We wouldn’t advertise a brand which could be
sensitive to a promotion the supermarket might be carrying for a similar
own-label product,’ he says.
It is an issue that makes some media buyers question whether
supermarkets have a hidden agenda when it comes to deciding which
products can be advertised.
Yan Huybrechts, a director of MediaVest (formerly The Media Centre) with
responsibility for outdoor, says: ’There is some concern that it would
not be a strictly open market.’
In addition, the continued own-label threat to branded goods could deter
However, Safeway, which launched the first of 2000 planned sites last
month through Maiden Outdoor, carried ads for FMCG brands Kellogg’s
Frosties and Cussons Imperial Leather.
But few would disagree that supermarkets are sitting on a unique
resource: a captive audience at the point of sale. And in a fragmented
media market, advertisers will be quick to seize any new alternatives
that promise to reach their target customers.