Will the appointment of VCCP Blue signal a turnaround for Asda?

This week Asda appointed VCCP Blue to its estimated £100m ad account, in a bid to overhaul its marketing and maintain its share of the supermarket sector, which has been under increasing competition from discounters like Aldi and Lidl at one end of the scale, and upmarket supermarkets like Waitrose and Sainsbury’s at the other.


Asda’s share of UK grocery spending fell to 17 per cent in the 12 weeks to 7 July, down from 17.3 per cent a year earlier, according to Kantar Worldpanel data, and sales for stores open for a year or more increased just 0.7 per cent in Asda’s second fiscal quarter, the three months to 5 July.

Chief marketing officer Stephen Smith is hoping that a new agency will bring “new ideas’”and “new thinking” to help break through the cluttered marketplace and create innovative and creative communications every day, not just month to month or campaign to campaign.

At a recent briefing for Asda’s Christmas plans Smith said the brand would be placing a greater focus on product in this year’s fourth quarter, showcasing ranges such as its Butcher’s Selection meats and Extra Special party food and wine, in order to highlight the quality and authority of its goods.

“When you are known for price you have to do something really different to also be known as a brand for quality,” he said.

“We’ve been winning more than 140 awards in wine [for example]. We are getting noticed for quality but as a company we are so focused on price. Although it can sometimes feel a bit like puffery, we are winning awards across our entire portfolio and we have to find a way to get that message across in a commercial way and give ourselves credit for it.”

The fourth quarter needs to be a strong one for Asda, especially in light of its ad campaign last year. Created by agency Saatchi & Saatchi, which VCCP Blue will now replace, the campaign featured a harassed mother preparing for Christmas Day. It attracted more than 600 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority that it was ‘sexist’ and that it reinforced negative gender stereotypes.

With a new agency and strategy, it looks hopeful that this year’s campaign will get a better reception.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here