8 steps to Brand Hero or Evil Genius

STEP 1 – Copy a great idea.
In December 2020, Burger King gave independent restaurants free reign over their social channels to promote their small businesses to BK’s mass audience. They were praised for their originality, their encouragement of local, independent business in a difficult time, and backing up their words of support with real action – and rightly so.

This week, Tesco pulled off an activation with a similar sentiment by encouraging us to support our local pub. But is there more to this stunt than meets the eye?

STEP 2 – Do something kind very publicly.
If research is anything to go by, 2020 turned us into better people (but still frenzied consumerists). We want good products, great service and enjoyable interactions with brands.
Those that get it wrong can fall victim to the one-tweet-takedown, a long-standing reputation destroyed in seconds.. That’s because we want brands to share our values, have a social conscience, behave with integrity and share concern for the big issues like sustainability, deforestation, pollution, racism, climate change and local economics.

With a campaign encouraging us to support our local pub, Tesco are saying all the right things.

STEP 3 – Link your brand offer to a selfless act.
Ok Tesco, we see you. We see how you snuck in the not-so-subtle mention of your “great offers” – but if that’s all you do – can we really call it a selfless act? Burger King named local restaurants and gave them free advertising, giving their altruism a little more substance.

STEP 4 – Don’t forget your strapline.
Every Little Helps. The move actually makes sense with their age-old strapline, encouraging us to support our local pub in whatever small way we can. It aligns with their values as the world sees them, rather than appearing to jump on the bandwagon.

STEP 5 – Be Empathetic
Communicating “pubs have had it tough” and encouraging public support, shows that even a big corporation like Tesco empathises with the difficult situations us everyday folk face.

However, publicans have it tough at the best of times, with huge duty on alcohol, ever changing drink trends, and cheap booze from supermarkets. Tesco’s words ring a little hollow when you sell 40 cans of Stella Artois for £20.

STEP 6 – Plant a seed of doubt about the competition
*Spoiler alert*: In the same way that global tour operators don’t really want me to stay in the UK at a small independent B&B,Tesco would rather you buy alcohol from them than your local pub.

So, can we disguise an attack on the competition as apparent support for them? Perhaps we can even seed some doubt on a subconscious level.

The ad encourages us to support our local pub “if you feel safe”.. Well actually Tesco, until you mentioned it – safety hadn’t crossed my mind. But come to think of it, hundreds of strangers, inside, handling fresh produce, beer cans and other products, not socially distancing at my local supermarket versus just 6 friends, outside, at a pub with stringent cleaning protocols? I know which one I’d rather. Bubble = burst.

STEP 7 – Use neuroscience backed content.
Insert subtle design cues like a red full stop next to the word “can” and subconsciously the mind is drawn in. The contrast colour triggers neurons that reinforce the word “can” alongside beer and Tesco.

Throw out language like “safety” too and BOOM; neural pathways complete. Beer comes in CANS available safely at a great price, right here at Tesco. Why risk it at the pub?

STEP 8 – Prefect timing reverses the empathy.
Finally, if you push the campaign live (just as you’re getting national media coverage for your low profits and revenue falls) then cue the Tesco sob story – struggling yet still trying to support my local pub. We can hear it playing out all over the UK now: “Lilly, I’m a bit uneasy about going to the pub tonight – it’s chilly too – let’s grab a dine in meal and bottle of wine from Tesco”.

Evil genius? Mission complete.

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