Woolworths & Coles lead the way in retail advertising

Coles and Woolworths are two of the biggest display advertisers in newspapers and masters of producing attractive creative that drives readers into action.


Creative Diagnostics

This Newspaper Works’ proprietary newspaper metric, provides a set of creative diagnostics unique to the attributes of newspaper advertising.  They’ve been developed to help identify areas for improvement where results across other brand and advertising measures may require further analysis and interrogation.

Creative Diagnostics Map: Woolworths & Coles Ads


Both the Coles and Woolworths ads scored strongly across a number of creative diagnostics, scoring well above average retail advertising scores.

Price and product are the heroes of both executions. However, slight differences between each ad has resulted in different creative diagnostic scores.

Coles scored well in terms of visual appeal. Respondents appreciate the clear, uncluttered creative with minimal text and fresh imagery.

The ad scored significantly higher than the retail ad average in terms of making it easy to see what is on offer (67% vs. 38% retail ad average). Less than half of respondents felt the creative is eye catching (40%) and looks good (38%).

A negative was 40% of respondents said it is similar to all other supermarket ads, which is significantly more than the retail ad average of 28 per cent.

The Woolworths creative featured more products and a heavier use of text. One in five (21%) respondents said it looked cluttered.

The use of the vibrant green and yellow colours had a positive effect on key message takeout and memorability. Some 42 per cent of respondents said the ad highlights an important feature, in this case the $1 promotion. Two in five (41%) say they would notice and remember the ad.

Brand Equity: Woolworths & Coles

Brand Equity: Woolworths & Coles Ads


The goal of this style of retail advertising is to encourage readers into acting on the offers in the ad, whether it be to visit the store, tell others about the offer or buy a featured product.

However, these ads also impact brand equity. The compelling special offers displayed in an attractive manner resulted in increased positivity to both Coles and Woolworths. Both creative scored well above the retail ad norms for Brand Equity, over indexing on the three main measures.

A key challenge for the big two supermarkets is differentiation. The Woolworths creative was particularly successful in this area with more than one in three (35%) respondents saying the ad made the Woolworths brand seem different. The ad was also significantly successful in driving familiarity, with 58% of respondents saying the ad made the brand more familiar to them (vs . 28% average).

The Coles ad also scored well in improving brand equity. Their use of a familiar template helps to improve familiarity with the brand (44%).


Newspapers are a powerful medium to utilise across a broad range of strategic roles. Six strategic advertising roles have been validated both qualitatively and quantitatively by The Newspaper Works, resulting in the creation of RoleMap, one of two proprietary newspaper metrics.  The Role Map demonstrates how consumers connect with newspaper advertising across the six roles, comparing the performance of creative against a footprint of all ads tested. For more information on RoleMap, click here.


The key role of this style of retail print advertising used by Woolworths and Coles is to drive call to action and, according to this research, both ads successfully achieve this. More than one in two (51%) respondents see the Coles ad as a call to action ad compared to 46% who said the same of the Woolworths ad.

However, the Woolworths creative was also successful in driving another advertising role – reappraisal. The ad outscored the retail advertising norm considerably in terms of encouraging reappraisal. One in five respondents say the ad made them think differently about the brand (compared to the retail ad average of 7%).


Newspapers are recognised as an effective medium for delivering a Call to Action. ActionMap, another proprietary newspaper metric, expands on this strategic role to provide an understanding of the types of action a newspaper ad inspires. Measured via forced exposure, people are asked about the actions they would consider taking (or have taken) as a result of seeing the ad. For more information on ActionMap, click here.


Again, both ads performed well in driving a form of call to action. However, the type of action taken differs slightly with each ad.

The Coles execution performed strongly in terms of driving store visits (41% vs. the retail ad average of 12%). The Woolworths ad performed better in terms of driving specific purchase of products advertised (37% vs. the retail ad average of 12%). One respondent commented “The ad has great specials so of course I will go and shop there.”

Coles and Woolworths have a strong tradition in producing print ads that successfully drive call to action. For more examples of how they do this, click here.

What the readers said

Coles Ad

“I feel impressed, especially about the affordable pricing of the products being advertised. The use of the colour red is very eye-catching and the large numbers stand out boldly.”

“It stands out, is not too cluttered and gets the message across.”

“It’s simple and to the point, making it easier to see products with great prices.”

Woolworths Ad

“Attractive with the giant dollar, though it could be better emphasized apart from just using the “Aussie” colours, good bargains on relevant products tends to be retained in memory.”

“Very eye catching and worth a second look.”

“I love the deals. It is visually appealing, makes me remember the products on special and would be a great bargain.”

For more information on the Advance: Creative Benchmarking methodology, click here.



1 comment

  1. I have spoken to many people about Coles offensive Down down mantra. Especially the recent versions – it is loud and totally repetitive and I and many other people have stopped shopping at Coles because of it. There are many other meaningless adverts in this industry such as the silly woman cavorting on a shopping trolley but at least one can ignore it. The loud constantly repetitive Coles advert is just totally offensive and is turning many people off Coles. Coles must think its shoppers are all morons

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