Resonance, Reach & Recipes – Tesco Effectiveness Cookbook

Resonance, Reach & Recipes - Tesco Effectiveness Cookbook


One of the dilemmas facing the modern marketer involves authenticity. To grow a brand – particularly an already big brand – you need broad reach and mass appeal. But you also want your communications to feel authentic and resonant, not generic or bland.

Tesco have resolved this problem in a unique and effective way – using a Fluent Device. When you think of Fluent Devices you’re probably thinking of recurring characters, like Kevin The Carrot. But they can also work as scenarios – a repeated format for an ad which delivers that same reassuring familiarity but allows for variety too.

With Tesco, their Fluent Device scenario is the Food Love Story – a consistent format where each ad is a mini-documentary about one Tesco customer and their special recipe. In the case of this ad that’s Sue, a middle-aged swimmer who gets together with her friends for sea swimming and then warms up afterwards with a crispy pork noodle dish.

The repeating format builds familiarity and Brand Fluency, but every Food Love Story is unique and authentic. And over the course of the campaign, developed with agency BBH, Food Love Stories offers something for anyone, without ever trying to make one thing for everyone.

This patchwork approach means the performance of each individual ad isn’t as important as it would be in a campaign with bigger, tentpole commercials. The people in the ads are as varied as the recipes they make, and if Sue’s Crispy Pork Noodles isn’t your thing, there will be another one along in a few weeks. Long-term effectiveness is still important for a campaign like this – if people disliked the overall concept it wouldn’t help grow the brand – but at the level of a single ad it’s short-term Spike and Brand Fluency that are the clearer indicators of success.

On those terms “Sue’s Crispy Pork Noodles” performs very well, with exceptional results in both short-term Spike and Brand Fluency (a huge 96%). The ad is doing its job as part of the campaign, providing perpetual reinforcement of Tesco brand.

But there’s another side to the campaign which makes it even more effective. As well as creating familiarity and Fluency, a Food Love Stories ad is also a way to speak authentically to a particular audience.

In this case, it’s older women. As our Feeling Seen report – published in partnership with ITV and DECA – makes clear, this is one of the groups most neglected by advertisers, an invisible demographic compared to younger women and even older men.

The core point of Feeling Seen is that diverse advertising unites us. Ads starring people from diverse groups can and do work to make all viewers feel good, but they offer a “diversity dividend” among people in the featured group, whose responses are usually more intense and more positive.

When we tested “Sue’s Crispy Pork Noodles” among women of 55 and over, we saw this effect in action. The short-term impact (Spike Rating) and Brand Fluency remained exceptionally high, but the Star Rating – showing the ad’s potential to drive long-term brand growth – jumped from 2-Stars to 3-Stars. The viewer comments shifted too, with more of the women mentioning the friendship and “lovely smiles” of the ad’s stars.

This is the Tesco “resonance over reach” strategy in action – make ads which can drive sales and reinforce the brand for everyone while building positive feeling and inclusion via authentic stories, one community at a time. It’s not a strategy that can or should work for everyone, but for Tesco and BBH it’s been a recipe for success.


Creative agency credit: BBH