food dancing ad

Some Waitrose customers joke that “Sainsbury’s was invented to keep the chavs out of Waitrose”. But while free coffee has (inadvertently?) encouraged a more diverse Waitrose customer base, Sainsbury’s has always tried to be inclusive, playing down its middle class roots. Politically, too, it’s split down the middle, with the Sainsbury’s family divided between Conservative and Labour supporters.

That’s why CEO Mike Coupe was so keen to emphasise the crossover with Argos customers in advance of the deal. And that’s doubtless why it’s launched its new Food Dancing ad.

On the one hand, it’s a brave departure from the Sainsbury’s norm, an inherently conservative (with a small C) retailer. Even when it urged us to try something new, it’s always been a fairly safe twist. So the sight of various types moshing to the sound of a rapper is unexpected to say the least. And it’s taken lots of flak on Twitter.

But I like it. It’s not preachy or pretentious like its Christmas ad. It’s fun and it’s foodie. An explosion of colour, with an upbeat soundtrack, a bit like an M&S ad, only with people - and real people, of all shapes, sizes (a lot of them are overweight - a very representative sample, then) and colours. It sounds like a recipe for disaster. And one Twitter wag likened it to watching their dad dancing at Glastonbury. But I found it catchy and enlivening, and with orange lettering cues to link it to the brand without either overwhelming you.

Maybe it’s learned a lesson from the Argos Christmas campaign too. With its multi-coloured Yetis on rollerskates, that ad won zero prizes for creativity or subtlety, but it was cheap, fun and entertaining. We need some of that in these dark times.

Now it’s trying to create some of that same sense of fun on its shelves and in its stores. Whether we’ll see store colleagues dancing in the aisles seems less likely. In a posting on its intranet a store colleague asked if she was allowed to body pop in the bakery. Sainsbury’s response? “Richard, was filmed in a staged and controlled environment for dramatic effect only. We do not condone or promote this behaviour in our bakeries.”