Esso to drop Pricewatch

Petrol giant Esso is planning a 6m TV and press advertising blitz over six weeks to promote its controversial Pricewatch campaign before ditching it at Christmas.

It is likely that the company will replace it with a loyalty scheme in the new year.

The price-cutting scheme replaced the Tiger Tokens programme nationally in January after a three-month trial in Scotland and the North-east. Esso promised to undercut the lowest petrol price within three miles of one of its stations.

Esso claims to have added an extra 1 million customers since the launch of the campaign. However, other petrol retailers have retaliated, including BP which launched its “Focus on Price” promotion.

A source close to Esso says that the campaign was intended to “clean up” the market and force some rationalisation, pushing the competition to consolidate. Industry observers say that the real reason for the Pricewatch promotion was to squeeze out the independent retailers.

A spokesowman for Esso says that there is no intention of ditching the Pricewatch promotion, “It will run for the foreseeable future,” she says.

See Cover Story, page 42

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