A Case Study of Sainsbury’s ‘Try Something New Today’ Campaign

In 2004, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s launched an advertising campaign called ‘Try Something New Today’, which helped them make £2.5 billion in extra revenue. This is the case study of how they did it.


At the time, customer satisfaction was low, sales were dropping and Sainsbury’s competitors were gaining market share.

The team at advertising agency AMV BBDO was tasked with an ambitious goal: help Sainsbury’s achieve £2.5 billion in additional sales over the course of three years.

For a company with a yearly turnover of £15 billion, this was a very ambitious sales target.

So AMV BBDO brought to life a campaign called ‘Try Something New Today’.


The strategy behind ‘Try Something New Today’ is why the campaign was turned into a study.

Rather than getting customers from other supermarkets (like Tesco) to switch to Sainsbury’s, the team at AMV BBDO looked at what this £2.5 billion sales target meant for a single basket of groceries.

How much would each existing customer need to spend additionally in order to achieve £2.5 billion in sales?

The conclusion was quickly drawn: every grocery shopper would need to spend an additional £1.14 each time they shopped.

So how do you get into the minds of your customer so that they spend £1.14 extra, each time they shop?

The team discovered that all of Sainsbury’s customers were shopping on ‘automatic pilot’. They were ‘sleep shopping’, they said. Customers weren’t thinking about new recipes to cook. Every time they went shopping they just bought the groceries they always bought.

In order to get their customers to spend that£1.14 extra, this mindset needed to change.


Now, in 2004, Sainsbury had one big asset that they were using in communication: top chef Jamie Oliver.

As part of the ‘Try Something New Today’ campaign, Oliver started talking about the phenomenon of sleep shopping. He asked Sainsbury’s customers why they were buying the same things over and over again. There was so much other great stuff to cook, why not try something new?

The big idea behind the campaign was introduced in a 40-second spot on TV, followed by shorter spots to bring the campaign into the minds of the audience.

From then, Sainsbury’s advertising of the ‘Try Something New Today’ campaign could be found in magazines, on the radio, in newspapers, and before & after drama series on TV.

In Sainsbury’s advertising, Jamie Oliver wouldn’t recommend complicated or Michelin-level recipes, he’d just gently urge people to think beyond their normal shopping list.

He urged Sainsbury’s customers to combine their usual sandwich with a different kind of spread. Or their regular Wednesday-night meal with a different, self-made sauce.

Oliver would say:

“There are a million meals to choose from so why eat the same thing over and over again?”

With each additional ingredient, the cost of the average grocery basket at Sainsbury’s went up. But the customers weren’t bothered by this; they would welcome it because they were getting new inspiration to cook.


In the first ad of the ‘Try Something New Today’ campaign, Oliver showed how you could bring Spaghetti-Bolognese-night to life, just by adding a little nutmeg. In that very next week, sales skyrocketed from 1400 jars of nutmeg (weekly) to 6,000.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) actually produced a great case study of the campaign, which I definitely recommend watching. In their case study, Tom Roach, Board Account Planner at AMV BBDO at the time, said: “In a way, our customers saw our TV advertising not as advertising at all, but as a service to be tuned into not as advertising to be tuned out.”

What makes the campaign so effective, is that it managed to change the behavior of the customer in-store. Rather than sleepwalking, customers were now picking up recipes and throwing additional ingredients in their baskets along the way.

By now, over 200 million recipes have been distributed to customers in-store. Sales of the ingredients in Oliver’s recipes increased, but what’s interesting is that sales of many other items increased as well. The new recipes even lead more people to go to Sainsbury’s, helping to increase sales even further.

The ‘Try Something New Today’ campaign was simple but smart and it had a massive impact for Sainsbury’s.

This article first appeared here.