Gateway stores began rebranding and upgrading as Somerfield in
While Somerfield feels that it is getting across its improved quality
message to customers, it has been more difficult reaching London-based
national newspaper journalists since there are few stores in London.
Somerfield’s five-strong press office is much smaller than its rivals
and has prioritised getting the Somerfield brand known in the national
To promote the Somerfield brand and differentiate it from competitors
with a light-hearted campaign in the run-up to Christmas. Its dinner
party service of exotic ready-to-cook complete meals including kangaroo,
crocodile and ostrich - which will be available from an in-store
catalogue in October - would provide an opportunity to present a more
Band and Brown presented the idea of doing a survey on dinner party
behaviour to Somerfield at the beginning of August - with the aim of
helping to lift a product story into a national story.
NOP carried out the research, and analysis of the results and press
releases were ready for the beginning of September to catch the October
issues of women’s monthlies. The press release emphasised the humorous
side of the survey results, positioning the Somerfield range as a
solution to reducing ’friction in the kitchen’. A cartoon was
commissioned to accompany the story.
To maximise regional coverage, the survey results were given a regional
spin according to television regions to appeal to the TV, radio and
regional press audiences in each area.
HMS President, moored at London’s Embankment, was chosen as the venue
for a tasting of the new dinner party ranges for the specialist and
women’s press. With a budget of just pounds 200, the venue was decorated
with giant kangaroo models, blow-up parrots and crocodiles and
camouflage netting with Amazon rainforest sound effects. Somerfield also
took the opportunity to present its Christmas range to magazines with
longer lead times.
The light, amusing tone of the survey round-up won coverage in tabloids,
broadsheets and regionals alike, providing journalists and subs with
ample opportunity to flex their lexicons and punning headlines. For
instance, the Guardian came up with ’Hell is other people coming to
dinner’ and the Daily Star, ’Darling, let’s whine and dine.’
The survey provided ideal snippets for phone-ins and anecdotes on
regional and national radio. It even made prime time TV: on the National
Lottery show, presenter Bob Monkhouse made reference to Somerfield
selling kangaroo meat, while Chris Evans mentioned Somerfield on his
Channel 4 show TFI Friday.
The humorous presentation of the survey results, playing on the quirky,
human behaviour angle, guaranteed coverage for a ’soft’ news story -
even though the story was released in the shadow of the death of Diana,
Princess of Wales. The regional breakdown of the survey results made it
ideal discussion material for regional press, television and radio.
While Somerfield often only received a one line mention in the national
stories and often no mention of the product, Somerfield’s head of PR,
Jill Rawlins, was more than satisfied with getting the name check and in
talking about dinner parties and Somerfield in the same context. The
exotic nature of the range also gave Somerfield another stab at
upgrading its image.
Deputy editor of SuperMarketing, Richard Siddle comments that
’Somerfield has been very clever with its PR, getting more bangs for its
Client: Somerfield Stores Ltd
PR Team: In-house and Band and Brown Communications
Campaign: ’Friction in the Kitchen’ dinner party service
Timescale: August to October 1997
Cost: pounds 7,000