Tesco will not recruit from within to fill top marketing role

Tesco’s group brand director Michelle McEttrick has ruled herself out of taking up the vacant chief customer officer role.

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Tesco is “close” to filling the vacant chief customer officer, which oversees all the supermarket brand’s marketing activity, according to CEO Dave Lewis.

Speaking at a press briefing today (17 November), Lewis, who is currently acting chief customer officer, revealed the supermarket giant is “close to announcing a replacement” for Robin Terrell, who quit in August. Whoever takes on the role will be Tesco’s fourth marketing boss in just as many years.

However, Tesco will not be promoting global brand director Michelle McEttrick to the role. She told Marketing Week: “I don’t think so. I want to finish the job I was recruited for as there’s still such a long way to go. Maybe ask me again in four years.”

McEttrick has been focused on Tesco’s Christmas campaign and today revealed five more TV spots, the last of which will air on Christmas Day. These included an ad showing Tesco Finest buffet food leaving an annoying festive party guest speechless and another where a grandmother correctly guesses she is ‘Vlad the Impaler’ during the Name Game.

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An irritant? Freddie, an original member of the new Tesco TV family, has been removed from upcoming ads

The ads, created by BBH, once again star the comedy couple – played by actors Ruth Jones and Ben Miller – who debuted in Tesco’s 2015 Christmas campaign. Their fictional son, however, is noticeably absent in a change that looks permanent.

“Freddie is on a gap year and he may have emigrated permanently,” McEttrick joked. “We’ve listened really hard to customers and looked at a lot of data so whenever we pick out anything that is an irritant then there will be adjustments.”

McEttrick said Tesco made a conscious decision to avoid the John Lewis “tugging on the heartstrings” approach to its Christmas marketing. She said there was now a “wind tunnel of emotional Christmas campaigns” and that Tesco had to do something different to standout.

And according to McEttrick, this approach is working. Citing independent Milward Brown data (pictured above), she claimed Tesco’s 2015 Christmas campaign outperformed John Lewis, Asda and Sainsbury’s, with Lidl only “narrowly” beating Tesco in categories such as ‘brand affinity’ and ‘likelihood to shop’.

Tesco also revealed it has reduced the number of apps from 41 to 11 and will soon only have five. And McEttrick claimed these digital changes – on top of Tesco’s ongoing in-store improvements – are helping to win back customers.

Read more: Tesco trials digital receipts and self-scanner tech

She concluded: “Although people do shop around at the discounters, they’d prefer not to. People want one big shop and by listening closely to customers we will hopefully make Tesco the one.”

Tesco’s sales are rising at the fastest pace for three years, according to the latest Kantar Worldpanel data. Sales grew by 2.2% year on year in the 12 weeks to 6 November, boosting its share of Britain’s grocery market to 28.2% from 27.9% this time last year.

In comparison its big four rivals Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons saw sales declines of 0.7%, 5.0% and 2.4% for the period.

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