Tesco’s UK Marketing Director David Wood Talks About Oystercatchers

David Wood UK Marketing Director TescoDavid Wood: We decided to pitch our business in early 2012 because we recognised that there was a need to have a new conversation with our customer base. We had been with our previous agency for many years and over that time, the business had grown in terms of scale, was in many more new countries, was in many more new businesses; but growth had slowed in terms of the core food business and our customer base had fallen a little out of love with Tesco. So we knew we needed a new player on the pitch to help us reengage in a far warmer and more emotional level; but also recognise that the businesses have got more complex and how within that, how do you simplify and rebuild the brand in a very clear and relevant and motivated way with customers?

David Wood: We chose Oystercatchers to help us because the scale of the change was such that we wouldn’t have been able to do it on our own. The business, as I said, was much bigger, many more stakeholders within it from the CEO of the bank to the CEO of mobile to the CEO of the group; and given our ambition what we wanted to do with the brand, we knew we needed somebody to help us be on side, to make sure that we were finding the greatest talent in the industry and the best of the best, willing to do their best on the Tesco brand.

David Wood: I mean, first and foremost, they kept us in line. The business is a big business – full of have some very big and colourful characters and great stakeholders in its overall process. So it needed to be moderated and Oystercatchers did a supreme job there. But, importantly, they really had to listen and understand the challenges that we faced as a business to help convey that through the pitch process. They gave us great guidance, given the complexity of the brief, how we can really inspire the pitching agencies through the process, starting at the very top of our organisation with our group CEO, who actually led the inspirational pitch process on its own feet at one of our own shops and should his care and kind of like passion for the brand and the retail industry. And as we went through the process, keeping all of the agencies motivated and clear on where we were and clear on the feedback, so we know that when we got to the end of it we were on a level pitch in terms of judgement and understanding so that we can make the right decision.

David Wood: Looking back on it, I think there are three things that Oystercatchers really provided. Firstly, the fact that they kept us all in line as a client. Tesco is full of some very larger-than-life characters, most of those were stakeholders in the process, so keeping us at bay was quite important. Secondly, they really listened and understood the strategic issues we faced, and why we wanted to change our agency partner in what we were trying to do with the brand. And thirdly, and most importantly, gave us really great guidance on how to inspire the pitching agencies through the briefing process.

David Wood: Most importantly in Tesco, having strong relationships with our partners is absolutely critical. And it’s never more so than with the advertising agencies when you’re thinking about the stewardship of the brand. But you’ve got to like each other, you’ve got to be able to get on. You’ve got to have some shared values as a collective, and importantly some shared vision. We have some really clear values about respect and trust and collaboration and empathy and we have a real clarity on the vision that we wanted to develop for the brand, a brand customers don’t just buy from, but buy into. A brand that is wanted and needed in the communities in which we operate and I think when you bring it all together for me those are three important things in terms of the successful client agency relationship.

David Wood: The greatest challenge you face as a marketeer in Tesco is – giving the enormity of the business, it’s true multichannel, multiformat businesses – how do you knit all that together so when the customer experiences the brand it feels like all of those things are pointed to them in one seamless experience. That whenever they touch Tesco it feels like the same Tesco each time really, whether it’s the bank on the mobile or a simple shopping trip to get some groceries. So here we are with a new agency to help us very much with that challenge and we bring it all together with one consistent, simple, honest, open, warm brand that customers really want to buy into and not just buy from.