Waitrose ‘wonky billboard’ stunt pays off as council misses angle

A marketing stunt from high-end grocer Waitrose has left a London council looking decidedly lop-sided after it fenced off one of its own advertising billboards amid fears that it could be a risk to public safety.

Waitrose was quick to make the most of the opportunity for extra publicity, as it responded to the move on X (formerly known as Twitter). The supermarket tagged the council in its post, which read: “Thanks for the swift action but while our prices are falling rapidly, our billboard certainly isn’t! #noneedforbollards.”

The ad itself – created by Waitrose’s agency of record Saatchi & Saatchi – showed an arrow pointing downwards, surrounded by produce, with the tilted angle giving the appearance of the lower-priced food tumbling to the bottom of the image.

Accompanying text read: “Well, this is good – new lower prices on hundreds of your favourites.”

Members of the public had contacted Wandsworth council to alert them to the retailer’s wonky ad placement, fearing that it could be a danger to passing pedestrians.

The concerned locals were apparently unaware the retailer had deliberately erected the billboard at an angle in reference to its falling prices – as were staff at the council, who quickly fenced off the ad.

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In a further nod to the council’s apparent mistake, Waitrose also posted on the official Specsavers account, asking if the ad was: “One for your guys?”

The advert is part of the grocer’s wider cost-cutting campaign, as it reduces the price of more than 200 ‘weekly shop’  products across its stores and online.

A council spokesperson said: “We were alerted to this unusual advert by a concerned member of the public and while we could see it might be deliberately set up to look that way, we thought it better not take any chances with public safety so put up some barriers to be on the safe side.

“Once we’d spoken to Waitrose and established it was designed to look this way we removed the barriers straight away.”

Whether it was a genuine mistake from the council (it’s likely that planning permission would have been needed for the unusual placement) or a nice piece of staged street theater, the light-hearted move was an unusual one from the retailer, which typically plays it fairly straight with its marketing.

While many welcomed the joke and enjoyed poking fun at the council’s apparent over-the-top response, some social media users were quick to criticise the supermarket for placing the advert in the first place.

One said: “This is just s***, Waitrose. Do you think people who live in this area want a decrepit looking poster on the wall? Would you like one opposite your house? Why do you have nothing but contempt for your customers?”


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