In March, while paging through my British Vogue I came across a multi-page “fashion spread” titled Modern Behaviour. As usual, I glanced at the product details in small print only to find that, gasp, I could comfortably afford everything on display?! (This doesn't happen all that often when paging through Vogue). I quickly realised I was looking at a sponsored ad from an uknown brand, F&F. Intrigued, I Googled the company only to find it was Tesco's new clothing line. Shopping for clothes at a middle of the road supermarket doesn't really excite so I returned to my mag, feeling duped. Weeks later while browsing through my daily Luxemail by Sheerlux email, the F&F line made another appearance. Having now spotted this in two publications I respect I decided to journey out to the store to have a look myself (F&F marketing and PR teams - good work).
When I arrived at the Tesco superstore on a Saturday morning it was rammed and the F&F clothing section was small, sparse and disorganised. Determined to make the trip worthwhile, I did some digging and was able to piece together a few cute outfits. The material on the skirts and tops was pretty poor, but the prices were reasonable. They did have a decent range of knits; attractive prints, colours and quality cotton. I didn't see any of the pieces from the magazine, and I struggled to find much left in my size. However, I'm sure there is a wider variety online (which is the only way I would choose to shop their clothes going forward). I left empty-handed and generally not very impressed.
Perhaps my experience doesn't seem all that surprising, but it got me thinking about F&F’s marketing strategy. Based on where I spotted the ads, it would seem they were trying to reach those who frequent Topshop and Zara; the set who are interested in trends and fashion but can’t really afford the high end price tags. So they found me, and yes, they did get me into the store to try on clothes, but I wouldn't go back (except for groceries). It's not that what I found was horrible, it was just a bit of a let down. Based on the location of the ads and the quality of the photos, I expected to find some hidden gems in Tesco's selection - as I frequently did at the U.S. equivalent, Target - but I didn't and sadly it won't be a new fixture in my shopping circuit. It felt a lot like Primark, which isn't bad, Primark has it's place and I know exactly what I’m going to get when I arrive (long queues, lots of people and disorganised displays) and what I will find (a last minute, on-trend purchase, that won’t survive two or three washes, at a ridiculously low price). I just can't imagine that the money spent to get the space in Vogue will yield much return. Perhaps they need to re-think who their target audience is, because I don't think it's me or a vast majority of the others who read Vogue. Even M&S, who's recent fashion campaigns have been jam packed with celebs, has struggled with poor sales figures (though most recently, things have been looking up). It can't be an easy task for supermarkets to get people to associate their shops with clothes as well as food, especially when there are so many other fashion hot spots on the high street.
What do you think? Is Vogue the right advertising platform for Tesco's F&F?