Monday, January 23, 2017

Those awful advertising slogans - no. 13 - Sainsbury's

First the confession. Mrs Commuter and I shop at Sainsbury's every week. There, I've said it. I know that, for some, that places us at once in a certain category and social class. But that is their problem. We shop there because it is one of the closest supermarkets to us and we can find everything we want in one go.

This week, whilst Mrs C dutifully sorted out vegetables and fruit and began loading up the trolley (which my proud task is to push, let me hasten to add, this is a team effort), my eye was drawn to banners and posters festooned around the place. So thickly strewn in fact that it was impossible to avoid the message. Remember that we were already in the place and buying stuff. So why on earth do Lord Sainsbury and his pals think it in order to proclaim the following gibberish?

#fooddancing is living well

Before I dissect this slogan, let me point those of you who find this sort of thing fascinating in the general direction of the ad world. The Creativity online website, for example, carries some revealing quotes from the agency who came up with the slogan and the campaign that showcases it, and from the adman from Sainsbury's who is paying for it (out of my and other regular shoppers' money!). Explaining that food dancing is people dancing in their kitchens whilst preparing food and that the people portrayed in the TV ads (which I sincerely hope I never watch) are real people who just happen to be twirling about when filmed, a creative director of the agency behind the campaign said

the aim of the campaign is to give Sainsbury's a more consistent look and feel, and also a "cooler" edge. Both the TV and print work contrast black and white portraiture of people with vibrant food in color, 
Oh, and get this, some of the films are filmed on iphones and gopro phones "to add an authentic reality-style TV edge". Filmed by the professionals from the agency, mark you, so really not in any way authentic or edgy at all.

Look, mate, I don't give a flying toss what other people do in the privacy of their own kitchens. If they choose to be filmed on behalf of a supermarket then I hope they got a decent fee. But why on earth should I shop at your client? I shop to buy food. I don't dance with it, or whilst preparing it (or whilst watching Mrs C doing it, to be a bit more realistic) nor whilst eating it. digesting it or evacuating the remains in the usual way a few hours later. Filming in black and white merely suggests utter pretentiousness, as though only admen can afford colour film so the rest of us have to make our home videos in black and white. Jeepers, even in the 1960s people made home movies in colour. Alternately it screams out perfume ad but at least now that Christmas is over we are spared that lot for another ten months.

How does this give Sainsbury's an edge? Do only their customers dance? I put it to the court that this is singularly unlikely; indeed, given the age profile of the average lot shuffling round my local store, the best they could manage would be a couple of half-hearted waltz steps before sinking back into a padded armchair and putting the telly on.

Incidentally, note the adspeak use of the word 'cool'. Question - what is the difference between a cool edge and an edge? [Ah, I think I know this one, give me a moment would you? Ed].

So the film of people apparently dancing spontaneously can be filed under Z for zilch interest. Let us turn to the hashtag.

This is the crux of the nub of the heart of the problem. A hashtag at the start of a word used in a publicity campaign has only one real meaning, if used correctly, and that is to indicate that the word in question is being used to tag postings on social media. Now this may be the case here but it is surely only incidental to the TV/Press/Poster campaign, where it is utterly irrelevant and moreover insulting, trying to suggest that this is a sort of grassroots idea that the caring, listening supermarket has taken up, instead of a slogan dreamed up in an agency by a man wearing odd socks and braces, whilst waiting for an intern to bring coffee. Hashtags were a novelty once. About ten years ago. Time to let them go.

But what do we make of the slogan itself?  How can fooddancing (with or without an otiose hashtag) be said to be living well? The people who do it may or may not be, but the action itself? This is why I was to be found staring up at the top of the food counters last week. I was trying to imagine the mind of the person who thought that this slogan conveyed a meaning and it was not a pleasant experience.

Sainsbury's already has a perfectly good slogan - Live well for less - which at least is understandable and conveys something, although since they don't define what they mean by 'less' it is still adspeak rather than anything useful. I can see why they have tried to give it a new twist [Is that a dance related pun? Jolly good: Ed] but they seem to have put a foot wrong here. Time for a new man in charge (or as they say in Italy, bossa nova).

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