DIARY: Supermarket supremos move one step closer to loaded trolleys at dawn

Supermarket supremos Alan Preece, Asda general manager PR, and Somerfield marketing director David Coles have exchanged fresh blows in the PR store wars.

Supermarket supremos Alan Preece, Asda general manager PR, and

Somerfield marketing director David Coles have exchanged fresh blows in

the PR store wars.



Hostilities began last month when Preece knocked a Somerfield survey on

its shoppers’ trolley habits, as being ‘dreamed up solely for PR

purposes’ (PR Week, 17 May). Somerfield’s head of PR Jill Rawlins, who

reports to Coles, responded with a letter arguing that the survey proved

the store ‘was fun and unconstrained by corporate-thinking’ (PR Week, 24

May).



Just when you thought it was safe to go back through the checkout, a

letter to Preece, from Coles, arrived at PR Week.



In it, Coles employs more emotion than is usually managed in a one-man

repertory show. There’s sarcasm: ‘It is an honour for our humble company

to receive the attentions of such a distinguished and accomplished

commentator’, outrage: ‘It runs contrary to the way I’ve been brought up

in this industry and been encouraged to treat fellow retailers with a

degree of respect, and certainly not to go around knocking them in

public’, and even, one might infer, veiled threats: ‘I am wondering if

what I had previously regarded as the most sensible and universally

acknowledged morals should be reviewed.’



On hearing of his letter, Preece expressed surprise that Somerfield was

unable to research the address of his Asda office and even suggested

that by writing two letters to PR Week the store was trying to

perpetuate the debate.



We can only hope that both camps manage, somehow, to remain firmly on

their trolleys.



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