Tesco's marketing communications director Emma Botton tells us how Tesco has made its comeback by putting the customer above all else
Last week, Tesco announced that its annual pre-tax profits are up 795% on last year’s figures as the brand enters its ninth consecutive quarter of growth. The results confirm that CEO Dave Lewis has successfully returned the company to its former glory, after its historic loss of £6.4bn in 2015.
Previously president of global personal care at Unilever, marketing-minded Lewis chose to increase Tesco’s spend on traditional advertising by 68.2% last year. Food Love Stories, created with BBH London, became the core of its creative output.
The series of films celebrates real Tesco shoppers and the recipes they cook for their loved ones. For example, foster parent Birdie shares her jerk chicken dish, which she’s been making to welcome more than 800 foster children into her home over the years.
Overseeing the campaign is Tesco’s marketing communications director Emma Botton. Contagious spoke with Botton to find out more about the supermarket's turnaround.
What were the key decisions that Dave Lewis made when he looked to turn the company around?
The most important thing was rebuilding the Tesco brand around a clear customer proposition. It was about going back to what made Tesco great and reengaging its purpose of serving Britain's shoppers every single day. It was about elevating that purpose so that's front and centre of every colleague's mind, in terms of how they're showing up for work and how they're making decisions.
It sounds so simple. But I bet it's one of those things that's hard to get everyone to stick to.
I personally think that's what [Dave Lewis] is brilliant at. He looked at what made Tesco brilliant right from the get-go and has harnessed that, reengaging and lighting that fire. Often in business, it is about making seemingly complicated things very simple again. If you're trying to bring cultural change, and engage 300,000 employees around something, you need to make it as clear, engaging and simple as possible.
What is the culture of the company like now?
I see a business that's engaged and motivated by nine consecutive quarters of growth. I see a business that is far less complex, and that means speed and that people have rewarding jobs where they know how they're adding to the bigger picture. It’s a very thrilling and energised environment.