Tesco Puts the Stories in Food Love Stories


Cathy’s ‘It Gets Easier’ Mushroom Stew


Tesco’s “Food Love Stories” campaign has been at the centre of the brand’s marketing since its 2017 launch. But there’s been a subtle shift of emphasis in recent entries which has led to a warmer response among audiences. Simply put, the “Stories” part has been beefed up and the ads have got more effective because of it.

The early phase of Food Love Stories focused very much on the food and the people making it. The ads were based on the favourite recipes of real people and typically showed happy preparation and mealtimes with a voiceover describing the meals. Individual ads in the series scored solidly on Test Your Ad, generally landing around 3-Stars, but the individual ads weren’t the key to Tesco’s strategy.

The supermarket wanted its ads to reflect the diversity of its customer base and the millions of different stories they had to tell. Rather than make “something for everyone” and risk producing bland ads with low emotional response, they decided to make many individual ads and let the overall effect of so many different stories create a wider impact.

This worked well for Tesco, but recent ads have seen a different approach. With the basics of the Food Love Stories concept now very well established with consumers, the brand has turned its attention to telling stories with its ads that do have a wider emotional appeal. The central idea of someone making their individual favourite dishes is still present, of course, but now the cooking is part of a story about love and generosity.

The latest Tesco ad, “Cathy’s ‘It Gets Easier’ Mushroom Stew”, is a great example. The ad’s about Cathy and her favourite mushroom stew, but it’s also about the young parents she’s making the stew for. They assume she’s come to complain about the noise their new baby is making, but in fact she’s come to give the hassled parents some help and tasty food.

The result is a 5-Star Test Your Ad result and a strongly rising level of happiness through the ad. The scenario is one any parent (and honestly any neighbour of parents) will know, and there’s a lot of non-verbal communication making a simple story into something very human and appealing. The familiarity of the campaign means the ad scores exceptionally well on short-term measures too.

Food Love Stories is a great example of a campaign which has expanded its approach and built on its early success to become even better – yet more proof that great ideas don’t wear out.

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