Asda’s marketing boss says the pocket tap is ‘here to stay’ as it looks to be more emotive

After bringing back the famous pocket tap for its 50th anniversary TV ad, Asda’s chief customer officer Barry Williams says the move wasn’t a one off and it will now become a regular feature within the supermarket brand’s marketing.

The classic pocket tap had been absent from Asda’s marketing for some years as it pursued a new direction.

Williams, however, says that due to the success of the campaign, it will now make more regular appearances.

“It is here to stay, it is a part of our heritage and we can’t forget that,” Williams told Marketing Week.

“The response has been phenomenal for the pocket tap and its return, especially the viral videos it has generated. We’re evolving how it’s seen too, so it could be someone tapping the roof of their car at one of our petrol stations or an optician tapping the frame of their glasses.

“Yes it is nostalgic but it’s also more relevant than ever before when it comes to price and conveys the warmth of the brand. What other supermarket brand has got something like the pocket tap at its arsenal? You’d struggle to name them. It gives us an advantage.”

Williams also dismissed the increase of supermarkets adopting influencers and vloggers, adding: “I think the minute you need to start relying on somebody else to talk about your business it kind of tells you something about the health of a brand.”

Turning things around

Asda reported a 4.7% dip in like-for-like sales for the second quarter – the supermarket chain’s worst ever-quarterly sales performance.

Over the last the year, the grocer has been squeezed amid pressure from the German discounters Aldi and Lidl along with direct rivals Tesco and Morrisons moving to cut prices; an area crucial to Asda’s core offer.

At a briefing for the second quarter, chief executive Andy Clark said Asda had “reached its nadir”. Williams, however, said he “isn’t concerned” and is convinced the brand is on the right path.

“There are floating shoppers we’ve perhaps lost but I think emotive marketing is one of the key ways of winning them back,” he added.

“The moves Tesco and Morrisons are making don’t concern me at all. If this is chess, then the more they play our game on price, the better placed we are to win.”

A full interview with Barry Williams, Asda’s SVP & chief customer officer, will appear in the September 17th print edition of Marketing Week.



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  1. JV_at_lAttitude_in_Cairns 7 Sep 2015

    I am really
    hoping that this is a case of selective quoting, but Asda’s Chief Customer Officer Barry Willians’ dismissive “I think the minute you need to start relying on somebody else to talk about your business it kind of tells you something about the health of a brand.” seems to me to fly in the face of most – if not all – professional marketers understanding of the value and importance of turning mere customers into brand ambassadors. But perhaps Mr Williams nodded off during that lecture – if he ever attended any.

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