Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Sainsburys, Pollack and Marketing tricks - EDP COLUMN - May 2009

This was of course written before the sad event that was the relegation of NCFC to the third tier of English football. As I have tried to explain to others you cannot chose your family or your football team, they come with birth. Supporting Norwich was passed to me by my father and I will pass it to my son but with a larger dose of realism. Enjoy......

Published Eastern Daily Press May 6th 2009. - yes i know this is going up before publication date but i wrote it!

By the time you read this you will already know whether I will be feeling the same pain I felt in 1985 and again in 2005. So it’s probably quite fortunate that my deadline means that I will not pepper this column with sad/glorious anecdotes (depending on the outcome of last Monday) regarding NCFC. Instead I am dedicating this column to the brilliantly mad marketers at Sainsbury’s.

Recently Tesco announced that they were enjoying weekly sales of over £1bn a week and annual profits of more than £3bn. This is despite being in an ongoing media battle with Morrisons and Asda on who is cheapest. All three forcing us to watch ads regarding the average cost of a shopping basket, great price crunch deals and now spotty teenage Asda workers telling us how they are amazed how cheap everything is in their store.

To be fair Sainsbury’s is on the same bandwagon albeit with the classic female worker who also is a caring mum and the odd appearance from the almighty Jamie. However they are also coming up with surprising strategies based around product ranges the latest being Pollack, yes the fish.

Sainsbury’s have re-branded Pollack to Colin. Now to be totally clear, that’s Colin as in Colin Powell the American ex-General not Colin as in Jackson or Firth. This is the French name for the fish when it is cooked and supposedly it has a much higher gastronomic reputation with our Gallic cousins than here where it has traditionally been deemed cat food. It seems that if we eat as much Pollack, nee Colin, as the French it would have a major positive effect on our cod stocks. Especially as it is much more plentiful and cheaper than the more popular cod and haddock.

Sainsbury’s are urging shoppers to “try Colin and chips on a Friday” and even hired designer Wayne Hemmingway of Red or Dead fame to create new packaging for the line. His new Jackson Pollock inspired packaging (creative thinking at its best there) is used right across the line from packaged fish to Colin fish fingers.

So why would I call the marketers at Sainsbury’s brilliantly mad. I do of course applaud the effort to support sustainable sourcing and protecting dwindling fish stocks by promoting a more unfashionable yet more sustainable and plentiful fish. However it is more to do with the fact that before you go rushing off to your nearest Sainsbury’s they were actually only running this as a trial in 10 stores to gauge consumer reaction. Of course the acres of media space they gained from this would suggest differently but that is why they gain the brilliantly mad tag from me.

They could have taken the easy route and pointed out how much cheaper their Pollack is compared with Tesco or Aldi. This route though gives them massive media coverage, lets them boast about their green credentials and will probably help them sell a pile of fish if it is rolled out across the UK.

So hats off to the marketers at Sainsbury’s, they broke the golden rule of re-branding i.e. don’t do it unless you really, really, really have to. FYI it’s always better to realign an existing brand with what your customers want than start afresh with all the associated costs. They turned a re-branding into a major marketing coup and a clever one at that. They used an obscure product line to cut through the clutter of the current supermarket promotional messages and that is very clever.

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