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
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