It must have seemed a good idea at the time – presumably given the thumbs-up by Sir Terry Leahy, ceo of Britain's number one supermarket chain Tesco.

Tesco’s stratagem was to honour all money-off coupons issued by rival supermarkets Safeway and J Sainsbury – a move partly triggered the recently launched Nectar loyalty card scheme in which Sainsbury is a prime mover [WAMN: 19-Sep-02]. The promo was duly launched last week at all Tesco outlets with promotional material flaunting Sainsbury’s corporate colours.

When asked by The Times his reaction to the provocative promo, Sainsbury ceo Sir Peter Davis [the enoblement of supermarket bosses for ‘services to industry’ is a peculiarly British folk ritual] observed enigmatically that the Tesco ploy would “cost them more than they think”.

And Sir Peter was as good as his word. Sainsbury minions are now busily organizing the distribution of hundreds of thousands of hurriedly-printed coupons to households in areas with a high density of Tesco outlets.

In a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, a Tesco spokesperson called Sainsbury’s counter-attack “pretty desperate” and, through gritted teeth, said that Tesco would honour the coupon tsunami in good faith.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff