Friday 30 September 2011

What's your line?

When I was a very little girl, we had a Sainsbury's in the High St. I still remember clearly the decoration and tiling and the store interior, a broad corridor with counters at either side where shop assistants would carve ham, cut cheese with wire or simply hand you a packet of Sainbury's own brand cornflakes.

A few years later, Sainbury's opened a supermarket in the new town centre. I recall the simple but striking graphics of their own label range - from the cola to the golden syrup.

It's interesting to see that Sainbury's have changed their endline from "Try something new today" to "Live well for less". To put that in context, I have pinched a list of Sainsbury endlines from this article.


1882: Quality perfect, prices lower
1918: Sainsbury's for quality, Sainsbury's for value
1945: It's clean, it's fresh at Sainsbury's
1959: Good food costs less at Sainsbury's
1991: Sainsbury's - everyone's favourite ingredient
1997: Fresh food, fresh ideas
1998: Value to shout about
1999: Making life taste better
2005: Try something new today
2011: Live well for less

It's amazing to think that the endline that is most familiar to me was knocking around for 32 years. And I think that the reason for its longevity was that it's more than an advertising endline, tagline or jingle. It is more a statement of what the brand is about - a brand slogan, if you like, than simply a neat summary line of the advertising campaign.

I'm a bit sorry to see the "try something new today" line being ushered out so quickly. As I understood it, this was more than a catchline for the advertising - it's actually a positioning for Sainsbury's which is based on a clear commercial strategy of increasing the average spend per shop, and casts Sainsbury's in the role of the shop where you find interesting and inspiring new ideas - more competitive, I would have thought, than yet another creative iteration of the value equation.

Or maybe the ad agency just decided to act out their own slogan.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Green Te

I'm pleased to see the supermarket Tegut taking up the "Taste the Waste" banner. In the September issue of the customer magazine, Marktplatz, there are features on the film and the supporting book, as well an interview with the filmmaker Valentin Thurn.

Recipes using leftovers, tips about what sell-by and best-by dates really mean and examples of what the retailer does to minimise the problem are a good start. But the most important job to be done, along with optimising the supermarket planning and logistics system is to change people's expectations.

We're used, in these instant gratification days, to being able to get anything we want, at almost any time of day. That will have to change. And there is some interesting data to show that it may be amongst the young people that the biggest change is needed. Tegut commissioned a survey that asked, amongst other things, what people do with food that's past the sell-by date. Do they look at it to see if it's still usable, or automatically chuck it away?

Overall, 17% automatically chuck it out, but this figure was only 13% amongst the 50+ group and 22% amongst 14-29s.

Maybe this is one area where the younger generation can't blame the older ones for having messed up the world.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Dealing with modernity

I've just read a speech which I think is a superbly constructed and argued case for the internet's impact on all our lives in the early 21st century. It's from Ben Hammersley, editor of Wired and was given to the Information Assurance Advisory Council in the UK.

The speech is not just an excellent statement of truths - such as that the internet is the dominant platform for life in the 21st century, but also makes provocative statements which will ring true for many people in the light of politician's reactions to the UK riots a few weeks ago. For example: "The world is currently run by a generation whose upbringing has left them intellectually unable to be (sic) deal with modernity."


As well as politicians, advertising agency bosses, please take note.

But, although an excellent speech, there may be one or two areas where Hammersley's obvious zeal for the wonder of the internet lets him get carried away. For all that he sees his 30-something generation as a "translator function" between those digital natives (in the most extreme form, a toddler who tries to use a TV as a touchscreen) and those no-hoper 50+s who are unable to "deal with" modernity, he should perhaps remember from which generation all the internet and digital pioneers came!

And finally, I did love one comment on the speech, from a Tim Green, which I'll quote:

" Excellent stuff. My only comment would be to disagree with your contention that “The internet isn’t a luxury addition to life; for most people, knowingly or not, it is life.”

I think this is an over-exaggeration of the significance of the online space. We shouldn’t forget that people post restaurant reviews because they like eating, watch youtube because they want to play the guitar better and join dating sites because they like kissing other humans.

Real life will always win, for all but the most insane anoraks. The Internet just gets us there faster."

Well said.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Green Guide

Back when I was in the Girl Guides, we collected badges. There were badges to be awarded for anything from orienteering to childcare and, once awarded, the badges were carefully sewn onto your uniform sleeve (particularly neatly if you had the needlework one!). In some ways, having the badge and being able to display it gave you more of a kick than the possessing the knowledge or skill to get the badge in the first place.

I'm pleased to see that the supermarket REWE has launched a green initiative, Hallo Erde! I've noticed already from the UK that supermarkets, of all retailers, are probably best-placed to lead the way to sustainable shopping. They are bang in the middle of local communities and supply one of the most basic needs of human beings, regardless of age, class or tastes.

Hallo Erde! is, luckily, not accompanied by a glossy TV film banging REWE's own drum about how much they do for the planet, but is rather a collection of smaller and bigger initiatives, many of which have been running for years, untrumpeted. There's lots of good stuff here - and plenty to participate in, including a free packet of wild flower seeds (although, REWE, it's not really the season, is it?).

However - and I have noticed that this is the way a lot of green initiatives are going - looking through the brochure, I was reminded of my girl guide days. There are badges and logos everywhere. PRO PLANET, MSC, Fairtrade, NATURECotton, GOTS, Blauer Engel, Cotton Made in Africa, Die Taflen, DGNB...not to mention 30+ logos from partner brands plus those from all the other REWE Group companies.

In the end, thinking, acting and living sustainably should be more about getting the stamp or sewing on the badge.

Friday 9 September 2011

Waste not, want not

A new documentary film, Taste the Waste, has just opened in Germany. It's about the subject of food wastage across the globe, or more specifically, amongst the Western countries.

The trailer is full of alarming data-based statements: for example, the food that's wasted in Europe could feed the hungry people of the world twice over.

What's interesting about this issue is that it's one where everyone can immediately take action, in their own home. And, on top of that, it's an area where it shouldn't take the food manufacturers and retailers too much effort to stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.

I still have one of Pret a Manger's founding principles in mind - at the end of the day, all unsold sandwiches are given away to the homeless.

So maybe the big supermarkets and food companies can turn their attention away from "3 for 2s" and BOGOFS, grotesquely large packs and silly sell-by dates and focus on this issue instead.

In the long run, only good can come of it.

Monday 5 September 2011

Everyday magic

At our most deluded in this industry, we think of advertising as being a dream factory - producing spectacular works of high art that will inspire and uplift to the heavens.

But sometimes that's difficult when your client makes toilet cleaner.

However, when you think about it, most of the products and services that we do end up planning and creating for are everyday for some people. Even that premier car brand, which might be out of reach for most, is the family car for someone. Or the luxury spa and fitness club will become part of the everyday routine for its members.

Sometimes by focussing too much on dreams means we lose touch with the everyday and its own magic. Every now and then, a book comes out that deals with just that: the history of everyday life. There was "Queuing for Beginners" by Joe Moran a few years back, and I'm currently getting stuck into Bill Bryson's "At Home".

And if anyone doubts that there is magic in the everyday, think about the fascination of discovering an old newspaper in a trunk in the attic - the small ads, what was on TV, the minutiae of daily life. Or that section in the Science Museum about everyday life - or the Mass Observation archive.

While there's always room for the spectacular and fantastic in this business, some of the best advertising has always focussed in on the amazing fascination of the everyday.