Fictional farm-gate: still going strong
Since K2L’s Lucy crashed BBC Radio to debunk Tesco’s latest marketing hiccup, the supermarket giant hasn’t really left UK headlines. It seems every man and his dog has donned their wellies, to wade in with their two-pence on Tesco’s fake farms, leading the retailer to leap to its own defence.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the chief exec at Tesco, David Lewis confirmed the truth behind our report back in March – that the fake farm names appearing on produce have simply been created to convey a “consistent offering of quality and value”… Not to deliberately mislead shoppers into thinking the products were British.
Ok, Mr. Tesco – sounds fair enough. He then goes on to enthuse how the modern consumer is so very ‘marketing-savvy’, therefore Tesco was in no way being deliberately misleading – purely because its customers are too clever to get one over on.
Tesco: ‘Ah, must be time for a carefully-worded statement’
You can read his carefully-worded statement below, but it sounds to us as if Tesco is trying a little too hard to be nicey-nicey. You know full well the reputation management team has been called in when the multinational conglomerate starts throwing around the compliments to the consumer.
Chief Executive at Tesco, David Lewis’ statement:
“Some of the commentators don’t really give any credit for how marketing-savvy some UK customers are… Do they know that one single farm is not big enough to be able to supply Tesco? They do. Do they know that one single farm does not supply everything across all product forms? Yes… what was really important to them was do they come from farms? Well, clearly they do.
“When you look for a brand name you look for something that can stand for a consistent offering of quality and value. We are not the first and I suspect we won’t be the last where we have chosen to use a brand name. We have been very open about the fact that is the creation and we are creating and launching these brands… If you look at the history of food marketing in this country that is exactly the model that allows for consistent branded value equation in how you build a brand and that is what we did here.”
Overkill? Maybe so. But the guy does have a point, even if he is clearly trying to butter us up. Tesco may be touting their fake farms, but as we already know, Aldi is guilty too. The retailers are able to skirt around the law by clearly displaying where the produce was actually sourced on the front of the packaging; something which the Big 5 all do. It all comes down to whether enough factual information is given alongside the fictitious brand name.
Marketing-savvy or do you just have eyeballs?
Luca Bucchii, an expert in food law, says “The question is whether the average ‘reasonably well-informed and observant’ consumer is likely to be misled. In Tesco’s case, the brand name ‘Rosedene Farms’ offers fresh strawberries, clearly stating Morocco as the country of origin. It’s clearly displayed, and I would say that under current laws the ‘reasonably informed and observant’ customer would notice the origin – without being misled.”
So which category do you fall into? Marketing-savvy, or ‘reasonably observant’? That depends. Did anyone ever really think that Aunt Bessie was feeding the nation, cooking up a huge batch of Yorkshire puds from her cosy farmhouse kitchen? This type of branding exercise is actually much more common than you might initially think. And no one seems too bothered by old Aunt Bessie.
“These strawberries are practically a pulp!”
Whether you consider yourself marketing-savvy or not, it all boils down to what really bothers you when you shop. What do you pay attention to? Price? The brand? Fake farms? Or the origin of the produce?
These days, we tend to shop for convenience more than anything… So whatever gripes people have about these grapes, it’ll probably soon be forgotten. Most of us are too busy anyway – trying to find strawberries that haven’t been bashed to bits. But it’s no wonder really, when they’ve come all the way from Morocco.
If you’re a supermarket giant that’s recently had a branding crisis and you need PR or reputation management services, give us a call. Or, if you’re a reasonably well-behaved SME looking for anything digital marketing related, we’d love to hear from you too.