April 28th, 2010 By Jack Morton
Local theatre group steals brand experience march on retail giant. On Saturday I found myself at the local supermarket, 10 month old baby pinned under my arm, determined to do what my husband calls a speed shop. This is not my natural default setting when placed in a shopping environment (where I generally lapse into ‘the zone’ as he calls it) but it’s amazing how the very real prospect of a screaming baby can make you focus.
Sainsbury’s, however, seemed to have other plans and were offering what sounded intriguingly like a brand experience – Supermarket Shakespeare. So off I and the 10 month old went on an adventure with a rather unpromising character named Colin who claimed he would train us in the art of being a Sainsbury’s employee. Our tour soon took a more interesting turn – we discovered Colin’s character was actually a ‘resting’ actor who was variously embarrassed and flattered by obsessive fans and shocked acquaintances as we proceeded around the store, his story interweaving with the stories of five other characters inspired by a Shakespeare sonnet. It was highly enjoyable but where, I wondered, was Sainsbury’s’ message? Surely they would do something to capitalise on the experience? Other than providing the venue (commendable and of some value by association, of course) they seemed to be entirely missing from the proceedings. But it turned out that the brand experience wasn’t Sainsbury’s’ but a local theatre group called Teatro Vivo. Did the experience, a representative from the group asked me, make me feel more uplifted about my local community? Absolutely, I left with a warm fuzzy feeling that there is life in SE3 and wanting to talk about the experience, but rather bemused that the retail chain didn’t make more of it – ‘it’s such a drag’ a staff member told me, concerned about the interruption to their tea break. Meanwhile, Teatro Vivo leaves the retailer eating its marketing dust – the campaign builds on the live experience through activity on Facebook and Twitter.