CAMPAIGNS: Dinner disasters aid Somerfield - Branding

Gateway stores began rebranding and upgrading as Somerfield in 1993.

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

upmarket image.


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

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