Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's worst fears were realised this week as Tesco put chicken on a week-long £1.99 promo. The capon crusader had spent three nights, and roped in celebrity chef buddies Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, to convince the nation that we should all switch to free-range. But Tesco was having none of it. So, was it a cunning plan, a provocative two fingers to celebrity chefs and the media, or a PR blunder? It was certainly brave, given all the stick Asda received over its £2 chicken. I thought farmer-courting Tesco wanted to be seen to be above such incendiary tactics. In the week a Defra report indicated more than 25% of broiler chickens had difficulty walking, the promo gave the media a fresh chance to bash the move. The story was second only to Super Dooper Tuesday on BBC's News at Ten on Wednesday, and with Tesco refusing to provide a spokesman it suggested the story might have got a little bit out of control. The cute suggestion by Tesco that it was simultaneously using this price promo to drive shoppers into the supermarket to showcase its free-range offer also laid it wide open to suggestions it was patronising its much-loved customers. Which would be very un-Terry-like. But after a disappointing Christmas, with Morrisons stealing the limelight, and yet more media headlines promising 'The End of Cheap Food', it was a nice way of reminding shoppers that Tesco is cheap. It worked a treat: The Grocer has learnt that in the first two days of the promotion, sales of the little broilers were up 140% by volume and 70% by value. So while I've never believed there's no such thing as bad publicity, it goes to show you shouldn't believe what you read in the papers. Except The Grocer, of course.