Brands wanting to be part of culture has long been a lynchpin of marketing. Yet reaching this lofty goal is not always easy. It demands not just that you are connected with culture in the first place, but that your own company culture is agile enough to respond.
For while agile is another marketing buzzword, the truth is that many big brands are anything but. This is why Sainsbury’s response to Beyoncé’s launch of her new collection for Ivy Park in collaboration with adidas is a marketing moment to celebrate. The collection sold out in minutes, but amongst British consumers it wasn’t the design or exclusivity of the pieces that attracted attention. Rather it was the maroon and orange colour scheme’s resemblance to Sainsbury’s staff uniform.
After Twitter users were quick to point out the comparison with Sainsbury’s, the brand decidedly to playfully respond with a subtweet that read, “Repping since 1869”, adding a wink emoji. The attached image was of a Sainsbury’s staff member kitted out in the supermarket uniform with the copy simply reading, ‘The original’ alongside #SainsBey.
The cheeky response came courtesy of Gravity Road whose work with the brand has seen them play directly in culture, especially on social media. The tweet has to date had 4,000 retweets and more than 18,000 likes. Many Beyoncé super fans have taken to the platform to condemn the brand, to remind them that they’ll never compare to the singer and even sharing images of the company share prices.
Beyoncé previewed the collection in a photo shoot with Elle UK in December 2019 and the internet were quick to both support and condemn her creative flair. Part of the shoot saw her pose in a supermarket aisle; whether a conscious decision or coincidence we’ll never know.