Tesco’s Date Night Dinner Wins Viewers’ Hearts

Tesco’s Date Night Dinner Wins Viewers’ Hearts


If you’re a UK supermarket shopper you’ll be familiar with Tesco’s highly successful Food Love Stories campaign. And this isn’t the first time an ad from it has been Ad Of The Week. But this one makes a subtle but noticeable shift away from the campaign’s usual approach, and it pays off with higher scores on our Test Your Ad platform.

Most Tesco Food Love Stories ads follow a simple formula, centred on an individual recipe and the people who make it. The recipes and actors are based on real people – often they actually are the people – and the ads don’t really tell stories so much as show slices of life. At their simplest the ads show people cooking together and talking food. Some are more elaborate, like the one based on the Blue Tits group of older women who like sea swimming.

This new ad departs from the formula with more of a narrative. It stars a single father and his daughter, who is extremely concerned that her Dad’s date is going to go well, and sets about making sure he hasn’t forgotten anything. When he suggests he’s going to order a takeaway, she marches him off to Tescos to get their Tesco Finest Dinner For Two.

It’s under the Food Love Stories banner but it’s very much a traditional ad for Tesco’s, released in time for Valentine’s Day. The magic in the ad comes not from the food, but the charming relationship between the father and daughter and the narrative the ad manages to create in 30 seconds. The result is a strong 4-Star score, one of the best in the Food Love Stories campaign.

Why does it work so well? By shifting the focus onto the relationship between the Dad and daughter the ad puts far more emphasis on its right-brained elements, like narrative, dialogue, and non-verbal communication. Thanks to a great child actor it’s also a very funny ad. All these are elements which boost effectiveness, as Orlando Wood shows in his book Look Out.

Food Love Stories has been a successful campaign because the sheer number of different ads Tesco have created across media has meant it can be very inclusive while also authentic and specific at the level of the individual ad. Everyone has a food story to tell, and every type of person shops at Tescos, so the brand has worked hard to create a mass campaign at a more individual level.

This ad marks a shift away from that, towards a more traditional kind of storytelling. The good news is, it’s a strong and effective ad. Whether Tesco move more firmly in this direction, or whether it dips more occasionally into scripted storytelling, the ad proves the campaign is strong enough to stretch its formula. And that’s always a good thing.