Sainsbury's Social Media Crisis Comms Case Study | Transmute


02 October 2014

Sainsbury’s Social Media Crisis Comms Case Study

It doesn’t have to happen on social media to be spread on social media

One poster was put in one Sainsbury’s store on Romford Road, Stratford but owing to the nature of its content, it was surfaced and shared on Twitter before Sainsbury’s could do anything about it.

An errant poster meant for internal use only (let’s for now assume wasn’t maliciously placed) in the front Window of a Sainsbury’s store. The poster was photographed and sent on Twitter by Chris Dodd. It received over 5,000 Retweets, and news coverage in most of the national papers. There is no way Sainsbury’s had anticipated this level of reach.

The overall coverage saw a jump in almost 5x the buzz around the brand name, which interestingly came just three days after Sainsbury’s announced a new approach to their pricing.

Sainsburys social media buzz 50 pence challenge poster sept 2014

For a company already in a share price free fall since Justin King’s departure, largely attributed to the price war with the likes of Aldi and Lidi. Sainsbury’s announced this week that sales have fallen for the third quarter in a row – this kind of incident certainly hasn’t helped new CEO Mark Coupe settle into his role.

Whilst it is unlikely this Tweet itself was responsible for such a big share price drop – it being tweeted two days before their quarterly reports came out.

sainsburys share price sept 2014

So: In this transparent and immediate world we live in, be authentic. Don’t do or say anything internally that you wouldn’t want to be shown to your customers and stakeholders.

Things Sainsbury’s Social Team Did Well

  • Out of hours social media monitoring
  • Responded within 3 minutes (after 5pm)
  • Personalised and human approach to replies
  • Admitting it was an error
  • Carried on the conversation

Things Sainsbury’s Didn’t Do Well

  • Repeatedly badgering Chris about exactly where the poster was
  • Press team ignoring the news and letting it spread
  • Having an internal campaign that allowed for public ridicule in the first place

Lidl capitalised on this by creating a fantastic piece of reaction marketing building on their latest campaign by placing this ad in their show windows and printed issues of papers, striving to save their lovely customers as many 50ps as possible.