Tesco's customer chief defends its Christmas ads: 'Everyone doesn't find the same things funny'

Tesco's chief customer officer says the supermarket's comedy-tinged Christmas campaign was a success, despite a mixed response to the ads starring Ruth Jones and Ben Miller.

Speaking at a briefing for the retailer’s preliminary results, Robin Terrell said the campaign had been a learning experience, but that it had achieved positive results.

"Humour is an interesting medium, because it doesn’t work for everyone - everyone doesn’t find the same things funny," said Terrell.

"So we’ve learnt some things around that - it does polarise some opinion. But also, it really cut through, and we had some executions that worked really well in terms of both intention to shop at Tesco, and driving the brand in the way we wanted."

Tesco had a strong sales performance over Christmas, helping it to post UK like-for-like sales growth of 0.9% in its fourth quarter (to 27 February).

Talking about helpfulness

Terrell said since Dave Lewis became chief executive in 2014, there had been changes in both "what we do" and "what we say" - and that customers were disproportionately interested in the do, meaning changes to the customer experience in store.

This was part of the reason for forgoing a typical showpiece Christmas advert, in favour of four shorter films with more down-to-earth messaging, said Terrell.

"I could put up slides here talking about everyone’s Christmas campaign, and you’d see [...] the long, emotional TV campaign," he said. "We did something very different - we want to be unique, we want to be differentiated.

"We thought it was important that we talked about helpfulness. 'Every Little Helps' is still a proposition that is alive and well in our business and it resonates with customers, so if you look at what we did, it was all about that, about how we help customers."