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How Tesco's TV love story "fundamentally rebuilt the brand"

Tesco's evolving "Food Love Stories" campaign via MediaCom UK brought in brilliant business results - as well as the Best Ongoing Use of TV award and the Grand Prix title in the 2019 Thinkbox TV Planning Awards, run with Campaign.

Watch Nick Ashley, Tesco's head of media and campaign planning, and MediaCom partner James Parnum talk through the myriad of ways in which they used TV to turn around the retailer's business.

"What I love about TV is that it continues to challenge itself - to be better, to be braver, to add more layers to its skin," says MediaCom's Parnum. "It’s great news for the industry."

TV, with its story-telling power and reach, was inevitably at the heart of Tesco's always-on schedule. "Story-telling channels - TV and video - allow us to tell stories in a very, very emotive way," says Ashley. "And we know that that type of emotive advertising will drive the long term brand equity scores that we’re looking to develop." The campaign has rebooted the chain's reputation and food quality scores.

But, it is the appetite of the retailer and agency to take advantage of the innovations and opportunities of TV in all its forms over the past three years that has made most impact on the business and won over the 2019  judges. 

"Tesco has been the turnaround story of the past four years, and TV in all its forms has played an important part in that," says Peter Duffy, chief customer officer at Just Eat and one of the 2019 Thinkbox TV Planning Awards judges. 
"Year after year, there is a strong investment, with a real evolution in how TV is used, including new approaches to VOD and partnership innovation. Tesco’s approach has driven returns in short-term sales and long-term brand health, and has put clear blue water between itself and the competition." 
Nick Hirst, executive strategy director at Adam & Eve/DDB, praises the way that the food retailer, operating in a fast-moving sector that’s so often defined by tactical and reactive promotions, held its nerve and trusted in the long-term power of TV. "Tesco shows long-term thinking in an age of short-termism – definitely something to celebrate."

The judges were similarly impressed by the work itself. Richard Morris, chief executive of Initiative, describes it as: "Beautifully articulated...a wonderful piece of work showing definite progression." And the progression kept pushing the work on. As Rachel Bristow, former partnerships director at Sky Media, notes: "Tesco has consistently evolved its approach to using TV." 

Thinkbox TV Planning Awards 2020

Run in conjunction with Campaign, the awards are free to enter and celebrate creative and effective uses of TV and recognise the people behind them.

The closing date for entries is Friday 13 March.

The seven categories in 2020, including a new prize for Young TV Planner of the Year, are:

  • Best Use of Content
  • Best Use of Sponsorship
  • Best Integrated Campaign
  • Best Ongoing Use of TV
  • Best TV Newcomer
  • Best Small Budget Use of TV
  • Young TV Planner of the Year

The judges will also award a special prize this year for "Advanced TV Planning", recognising the expanding opportunities for TV advertisers opened by advances in technology. All shortlisted entries will be eligible for this prize.

Enter at

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