Tesco Tweets: PR Fails or Wins?


(Image from The Telegraph)

UK supermarket Tesco, has certainly been under the cosh lately. Firsty with the widely reported 'horse meat' scandal, where the brand was forced to take products off it's shelves after their meat was found to be contaminated. Then to add more salt in the wounds, more recent news breaking of a customer finding a human tooth in his Tesco's sausages!

So, the supermarket has clearly been having a nightmare on the PR front. Personally, I am not too fussed if a bit of alternative meat found it's way into my Tesco's burgers or even spaghetti bolognese meals (after new reports). What I am interested in, however, is the tone of voice and the actions Tesco have taken on their Twitter account during these 'torrid times'.

Shortly after Tesco's horse meat shocker hit the news, Tesco's social media team ended the day with a tweet that read... "It's sleepy time so we're off to hit the hay! See you at 8am for more #TescoTweets"

I refuse to accept Tesco's statement suggesting this was an accident, which read something like this... "I'm terribly sorry. That tweet was scheduled before we knew of the current situation. We'd never intend to make light of it.".

I think just like #Susanalbumparty (hahaha) at the end of 2012, this was PR tactics by the social media team, to make it look like a #fail, with the tweet then exploding on Twitter and making everyone talk about it.

To date, the tweet has had 2885 retweets and 698 favourites - some impressive figures!  What's more, if this tweet was so accidental and a PR 'shocker', then why hasn't Tesco deleted it?

Judging by @TescoUK's tone of voice, it doesn't seem like their horse pun was a mistake. At the end of January one very tired and slightly angry Tesco customer tweeted the brand saying "Carrying shopping hurts so much, f**k you Tesco"

The brand promptly replied to the message with a tweet saying; "Do you even lift bro?", which, for those of you who aren't down with the kids means 'How weak are you, do you not do weights?'


As you can see the tweet was extremely popular with 6,704 retweets and 3,161 favourites, with people replying "best response to a bitchy tweet ever' and 'TescoLad", the customer on the other hand was not so amused, who replied back 'Rude" and later "I no longer appreciate Tesco".

I tweeted about this myself on @Beeliked to which Tesco replied:


Overall, this is an interesting approach by Tesco's social media team. It definitely gives the supermarket a fun, 'edgy' tone of voice to their brand, opposed to the abundant amount of 'robotic' Twitter accounts, with little personality churning out message after message.

Personally, I think it's great work from Tesco, it's refreshing to see a brand take a few risks and new angle with their social media. Also, if you consider their target audience on Twitter (roughly 18-30s) most people would appreciate this tone of voice. Sure, this particular customer wasn't best pleased about the weights joke, but judging from the amount of retweets and replies, a number of other people seemed to think it was quite amusing!

As for the 'Hit the hay' pun, again this is risky business from Tesco but quite comical. Can you really say that thousands of people retweeting you, writing blogs and talking about you for the best part of a day, is bad PR? - I don't think so!

Keep it up #TescoTweets :-)

POSTED ON Feb-12-2013
Topics in this article
Social Media Marketing


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