Sainsbury's advertising boss has launched an astonishing attack on the TV campaigns run by the company's rivals.
Speaking to Sainsbury's staff magazine, national advertising manager Anna Shirley described the Spice Girls, who featured in Tesco's ads over the Christmas period, as "random celebrities" who had nothing to do with the retailer's "values".
Campaigns run by Asda and Morrisons also featured celebrities who had no relevance to their brands, she argued. Morrisons' ads are fronted by actress Denise van Outen and football pundit Alan Hansen, while Asda's campaign features Victoria Wood and Julie Walters working in-store.
Sainsbury's own choice of celebrity, Jamie Oliver, however, was an ideal choice because his knowledge of food inspired customers, she said. This Christmas Oliver fronted Sainsbury's main ad in which he suggested new recipe ideas in a Santa's grotto food factory. "Tesco's approach may be about taking the difficulty out of Christmas shopping, but what do the Spice Girls have to do with that?" said Shirley in Sainsbury's Journal. "They're just random celebrities endorsing the company, not a true expression of what Tesco is about. Morrisons has been using celebrities with Denise van Outen and Nick Hancock out in the countryside and Asda's use of Victoria Wood mucking in with store colleagues is great, but there's no connection to the product.
"Jamie, on the other hand, is totally relevant to our values."
A spokesman for Tesco said it was "no surprise" that Sainsbury's national advertising manager preferred her own company's adverts. "The Tesco ads have been phenomenally successful," he added.
An Asda spokesman said the use of stars such as Victoria Wood working with staff fitted exactly with the supermarket's ethos and promoted its friendly service. Morrisons declined to comment.