Monday, April 25, 2005

Vote for Tescos pt1

value lager

Tescos always used to be a bit of a joke.

When I was a wee lad, Tescos was always a poor second, a very poor second to Sainsburys.

Times have changed. Sainsburys followed the same path as British Airways, decided it only needed Business Class customers and treated the rest of us as pond scum. Meanwhile, Tescos got some decent management in, proceeded to wipe the floor with its rivals and became the largest supermarket chain in the country.

Tescos earned £2bn last year. That’s £5.5m a day.

And even after all that spectacular success and growth, Tescos still cleverly markets itself in a way more suggestive of a cheeky underdog than the 600lb gorilla of the UK supermarket world.

Tescos ads are informal and feature voice-overs from working class celebrities with regional accents, hamming it up to sound just that little bit stupid. Sainsburys occasionally try to mimic that style but invariably cock it up. As with the Conservative Party, Tony Blair or British Airways, it is almost impossible for Sainsburys management to hide its contempt and loathing for normal people, even when they’re trying to sell them things.

And then there’s Marks and Spencers. One day a few years ago, pretty much the entire population of the UK woke up and realised that £2.50 was an awful lot to pay for four potatoes, even if they were ‘specially selected’, ‘hand scrubbed’ and individually wrapped.

M&S’s sales tanked.

M&S is far too proud to follow the Tescos route and is sticking by its premium quality image, and pricing. Their latest attempt at winning back market share consists of filming food adverts in the style of a porn movie; featuring close-ups of moist, sweaty food and a husky female voice-over saying things like:

Oooh, this is not just a normal chicken. It’s a aaaa aaaa aaaa honey roast, totally orga(sm)nic, hand reared (wink wink) Marks and Spencer chicken’

‘This is not just a chocolate pudding. It’s a pant pant Belgian double-dipped (yes please), melt in your mouth (bet I would) Marks and Spencer chocolate pudding. I'm ready now! Take me! Take me!

However, the voice-over neglects to mention that this stuff is produced at the lowest possible cost, by minimum wage casual labour, living in 40 year old caravans in the middle of nowhere; same as all the crap sold by all the other supermarkets.

The big difference is that Tescos would use Ron Jeremy in their adverts.

Yes, it’s difficult to hate Tescos, whilst satisfyingly easy to dislike Marks and Spencer, and Sainsburys, and British Airways.

The single largest piece of evidence that Tescos has not got too big for its own boots is the existence of the Tescos Value Range.

With its distinctive red, white and blue, vaguely French looking packaging the Value Range represents the very pinnacle of low cost food retail. The technologists at Tescos have spared no effort, and no artificial ingredient, in producing a line of products with no redeeming qualities or nutritional merit whatsoever; aside from an absurdly low sale price. Holding a tin from the Tescos Value Range in your hand you can be 100% confident that it contains as few natural ingredients as possible, was very possibly produced by child slave labour and that dolphins did die in its making.

How else could Tescos take the former international benchmark of nasty, cheap food; the 20p ramen noodle packet, and bring it to the shelves at a sale price of 9p?

Forget about Supersize Me and eating nothing but McDonalds for a month. I want to know what people are going to look like after eating nothing but Tesco Value Range food for a couple of years. I think we could be on the brink of the next stage in human evolutionary history here

value range

The Tescos Value Range has rapidly assumed cult status. Zany students and wacky people trying to survive on their Jobseeker’s Allowance or £2/hour cleaning jobs can be seen carrying baskets filled with items selected exclusively from the Value Range. It's quite normal to see Central American couples heaving trolleys filled with their local store’s entire stock of 7p a tin red beans towards the check out. Occasionally I encounter people in my local Tescos clearly anguishing over whether to spoil the Zen-like purity of their weekly shop by buying a branded, non Value Range item. It’s a matter of pride

Anyway, Tescos impressive financial results for the last year and the success of the Value Range got me thinking.

Maybe we should all vote for Tescos at the next election …


Peter said...

If I shopped at Tescos and seen this I'd have got one. I'm a bit lame though :)

And supermarkets are still evil

Peter said...

I was looking at your London Geometry site. Intriguing.

The recurrence of 316 as a distance reminded me of the sign that randoms hold up at sports events etc: "job 3:16", a Bible passage which reads:
"or as a hidden untimely birth I had not been, as infants who never saw light". Illuminating? Dunno.

Fascinatiing alignment in London. Does make you wonder if it was just some group whose oddities are being kept for 'listed building' reasons or something more sinister - cue twilight zone music.

It always struck me as strange that a bunch of stonecutters chose to decorate their (huge) buildings in London with pagan iconry. It's all over all the legal buildings too.

P.S. How are those for differing successive comments. Like an onion me :)

Stef said...

That Valentines Card is a work of genius, the only problem is that it isn't in a format suitable for printing - thanks for that

Re. the geometry thing. There actually might be something to it and I've come up with a few extra angles since I wrote that half-arsed page you were looking at.

I exchanged emails with an author of books on such matters a few weeks ago and, touch wood, we might be having a chat about it in the near future.

BTW It's not just stonecutters who got up to such things. If you ever stroll around any large Victorian cemetery it's really quite obvious that the richer you were the less likely you were to be entombed under Christian marker. Kensal Green is a cracking example with the high status graves marked out by a forest of obelisks. Whatever those guys believed in it wasn't the Bible. I am more than a little curious to know a) what they believed, and b) if it's still going on today ...

Stef said...

BTW Yes, Supermarkets are still evil

zenyenta said...

Interesting. Supermarket culture might mean something. I don't know what but I haven't finished morning tea yet. In the area of the US where I live they're almost all the same, except for the very, ultra high rent districts which have their own special ones. The ones with real snob value change every so often, presumably to throw the rest of us off the track.

Thanks much for the links to Banksy and others. I was distracted or something when he came our way and wasn't paying a lot of attention. I'm still heartbroken over the fact that the graffiti is gone from NY Subways. They never looked better than when they were decorated by street artists. NY is cleaned up, but for what? More gray stuff? So that Times Square can resemble Las Vegas? Doesn't seem a lot of point to any of that.

Commenting on a comment - In the US they hold up signs that say John 3:16 at sports events, rather than Job. Is the number the important thing, rather than the message? This would be too much to think about on a workday if I had enough short term memory left to remember to think about it later.

Peter said...

I think John 3:16 might have been the signs I was thinking of.

That quote is a bit more straightforward: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

(I meant stonecutters in a Simpsons-(stone)Masons-parody kind of way).

I was reading about the powers that be and the occult and somehow ended up on David Icke's website, risking my name being added to some Bilderberg group hit list or something, and I was deeply puzzled by him.

He seems so sane in many ways then counters it all by coming out with some strange stuff. I saw him on a talkshow and thought he seemed fairly normal. His intentions are obviously decent and if you've got a spare 1hr or so, it's an interesting (and advisably salty) read.

It's one of those situations where you don't know whether the copious proof for theories is all bollocks aswell.

The auto-bio is an essential intro.

Stef said...


The supermarket thing is much more important here than in your part of the US. If you think about Wal-Mart and the impact it has had on the South that's the kind of issue we have here. In fact Wal-Mart has bought into one of our large chains here the UK.

What you have is four or five large companies that control 80-90% of our food. The quality of the food is poor, the jobs they offer are low waged and they are moving into all sorts of other businesses. As Peter said, they are evil.

Being British supermarkets they also have the odd quirk that they, sort of, reflect our class system. Starting roughly from the top ...

Waitrose / Marks and Spencer

The 316 thing comes from a page I wrote a while back. For some peculiar and unexplained reason all sorts of public buildings including Big Ben are 316ft tall /wide / across. The same as the outer circle of Stonehenge and a couple of other stone circles.

Re. Banksy. Yes, I grudgingly have to admit that I'm a bit of fan. The problem is that there are a lot of copycats around and some of the trendier, grittier parts of London e.g. Shoreditch are absolutely swamped with stencil graffiti and stickers. In my opinion, too much. Also, corporate marketing is sneaking in and subverting the form by using stencils to plug whatever cr*p they happen to have on their books



Stef said...


Ooo-er where's a man supposed to start.

Icke ain't stupid at all. He makes a very tidy living at what he does. Part of your trouble with what he is saying is probably something to do with the fact that a lot of it is cr%p and much of the rest is coded. When he talks about alien reptiles for example, the chances are that he is speaking in allegory and referring to a particular ethnic group. Fans of conspiracy theories through the ages will have no trouble guessing which one ...

The really difficult part of wading through all this stuff is maintaining a sense of balance.

I have no doubt that all sorts of peculiar, and hidden, things are going on. And it's not unreasonable to be open to the thought that maybe they're all interconnected in some way.

Take this Church I was looking at on Old Street the other day ...

It's a church right? So why is it capped with a huge phallic obelisk and a golden winged pagan symbol?

What's the deal with the symbolism on the back of dollar bills? Or the pentagonal symmetry of Washington's street plan?

All around me I see clear evidence that the World is subject to the whims of a small group of people who are in on some kind of secret and sniggering away at the rest us poor sheep-like fools. Look at the bogus War on Terror and what is being done in its name.

Having said all that I am wary of the likes of Icke et al. There are many factors at work here; deliberate disinformation, catering to a market populated by credulous people in search of a new faith, stupidity and, yes, plain lunacy.

Ben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben said...

I think Lidl is below, or on a par, with Aldi. Almost an anagram too. Hmm.. By the way, that picture of the lager is mine, but you wrote such a good article I'll let you off :)

I think Lidl is below, or on a par, with Aldi. Almost an anagram too. Hmm.. By the way, that picture of the lager is mine, but you wrote such a good article I'll let you off :)

Stef said...


Grovelling apologies sought

In my defence I did credit and source the picture here...

Stef said...

PS I've also hyperlinked the picture to your blog

Ben said...

So you did! I remember now, sorry...!

Another 'sorry' for the double post, and the double entry on the second post (!) not sure what happened there... :/