Woolworths to ditch Kaye ads

Woolworths is planning to drop Paul Kaye, the comedian who once described himself as a ‘cunt’ for appearing in the chain’s ads.

Kaye, who stars in BBC’s 2000 Acres of Sky escaped the axe last year after claiming that he had been misquoted by an interviewer for The Guardian’s Guide and having given assurances to Woolworths that such misunderstandings would not happen again (MW August 8, 2002).

Woolworths, which is to unveil its latest trading results today (Wednesday), is understood to be reviewing its advertising strategy for the important Easter trading period as well as Kaye’s contract, which has just expired.

The Kaye-fronted campaign, created by Bates UK, was unveiled last summer as part of Woolworths’ £20m marketing strategy. It was developed in response to criticism from chairman Gerald Corbett that the chain’s Christmas 2001 campaign had featured too many celebrities and not enough products, and had failed to drive sufficient sales. The Kaye campaign was seen by many in the industry as a last ditch attempt by Bates UK to retain the £25m account and many expect that Woolworths will now call an advertising review.

Corbett’s comments coincided with a profits warning and an unexpected like-for-like slump in sales of 3.5 per cent for the nine weeks to January, compared with the previous year. When Woolworths makes its Christmas trading statement today analysts will be looking for a sales growth of 1.5 per cent on last year.

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