It's war! Sainsbury's ad questions Tesco ethical credentials

Sainsbury's gets out its claws in its latest value range ad, but is it putting all its eggs into one basket?

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 15 Jan 2014

The battle of the supermarkets is back, and this time it’s getting dirty. Sainsbury’s launched a TV ad last night highlighting the ethical credentials of its Basics range compared with arch rival Tesco, the latest swipe in a long-running advertising spat between the two grocery leviathans.

The 30 second ad showed off how Sainsbury’s Basics eggs are the same price as Tesco’s without being from caged hens. Later ads in the #ValueofValues (mouthful much?) campaign will feature Fairtrade tea, fish fingers accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council and ham that the supermarket said last year was British-sourced as opposed to Tesco’s continental pork.

Are the comparisons a rebuttal to the Advertising Standards Agency ruling in Tesco’s favour last summer over a campaign Sainsbury’s believed unfairly compared their own-brand goods? Sainsbury’s argued then that their products were differently sourced and higher-quality than Tesco’s, so absolutely couldn’t be compared price-wise.

Sainsbury’s clearly thinks that a bit of playing dirty while appearing all ethical is good for business. After the ASA ruled against it last year, the supermarket went bananas the next day with an ad comparing its Fairtrade bananas to Tesco’s regular ones.

‘Our new campaign aims to reassure customers that when they buy Sainsbury’s basics they don’t need to sacrifice their values, something that many of our major competitors aren’t able to say to shoppers who buy from their value ranges,’ Sainsbury’s marketing director Sarah Warby said.

Sainsbury’s looks like it smells blood at the moment, after Tesco reported poor Christmas sales. However, while Sainsbury’s is gaining ground against its old enemy, it didn’t have it much better – its third quarter festive sales edged up just 0.2%. With Aldi and Lidl snapping up market share at the value end of the market, and Waitrose creaming off the middle classes at the top, perhaps Sainsbury’s should look elsewhere for the next target of its self-righteous rage.

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