CAMPAIGNS: 'Tear-free' is selling point for vegetable - Consumer PR

Client: Tesco PR Team: In-house/Wonderful Public Relations Campaign: Launch of tearless 'Supasweet' onions Timescale: August 2003 Budget: undisclosed

Wonderful PR has worked with Tesco for five years and was recently informed the supermarket was poised to stock a new sweet onion, dubbed Supasweet, that could be eaten like an apple and was tearless to handle. The agency was also told that other supermarkets were poised to stock the product.


To capitalise on the launch of an innovative product. To highlight Tesco as a leading retailer, and ultimately, to drive sales.

Strategy and Plan

Working closely with Tesco's in-house PR department, the agency sent a specialist team into the supermarket's fresh produce department to conduct research into the product.

It was soon decided the campaign would revolve around the angle that the onions had very low concentrations of pyruvic acid, the chemical that makes your eyes water.

Wonderful then positioned the story in a humorous way, presenting the product as the first tear-free onion and a breakthrough in the food world.

The team also highlighted its benefits to cooks and pushed the angle that the new onion could no longer be relied upon by actors to evoke the tears vital when filming emotional scenes.

Measurement and Evaluation

Articles, together with photographs of the product, were carried by national newspapers, including features in The Sun, the Daily Mail, The Times, and The Telegraph. Both the BBC and ITV ran the story on news bulletins.

In addition, TV consumer programmes conducted taste tests and interviewed spokespeople from the Tesco corporate affairs team. The story was also picked up by the Press Association, prompting coverage in, among others, The Scotsman and Newcastle's Sunday Sun.


Retailers place stock into stores in advance of a product launch to give them a base figure for sales before any PR takes place. The latest figures show that, to date, sales of Supasweet onions at Tesco have increased by 782 per cent. The product has had no advertising support.

There has also been a knock-on effect on the sale of all onions at Tesco, boosting sales during the coverage by, on average, 18 per cent.

The Sun feature writer Grant Rollins said: 'It's an interesting story.

Most people cry when they cut onions, therefore a tearless onion is something people would talk about.'

Meanwhile, the Sunday Sun's coverage saw journalist Caroline Smith dressed up as a French onion seller to gauge public opinion on the streets of Newcastle for a strong photo-led feature.

'We wanted to do things from a different angle. It was a fun thing to write, and timely, too, as the onion was to go on sale on the Monday,' said Smith.

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