Modern Marketing

The Tesco war with Unilever is a brave British coup

By Matthew Charlton | CEO

October 13, 2016 | 3 min read

If you ask me, Tesco has pulled off a coup in its pricing row with Unilever.

I wrote last year that Tesco would only rebuild its brand through behaviour not advertising. Its stance with Unilever trying to hike prices up a whopping 10% is both brace and big. But if you want to rebuild trust and you want to be believed as a leader this is a great start.

Bernbach famously coined "a principle isn't a principle until it costs you money." This move will cost Tesco plenty of money but its effect on the perception of the business could be dramatic. Blanket media coverage standing up for the British shopper - there are not enough TV ads in a year that it could run to achieve this



This stance also hits hard against the much held perception from the past that Tesco is greedy. I think it may have taken a first step in rebuilding the brand from that perspective on a long road to rejuvenation.

Arguably the advertising by the supermarket has recently come across as a bit too cosy and soft - all a bit BBC3. So this stance against Unilever strikes a powerful tone of voice that Tesco is prepared to be on the side of shoppers and use its influence on the side of good.

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As a nation we are still trying to make sense of Brexit. The country has been dragged around in many directions and we appear helpless to the global market forces driving down the value of our pound. Tesco has put itself in the middle of that feeling as a very British hero.

Unilever as a holding company brand is likely to be annoyed but ultimately its individual brands won't be damaged by this.

The tide of price rises can't be ultimately held back but bravo to Tesco for making the most of the situation and trying to make a difference for their shoppers.

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