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Tesco, the cheesemaker, Facebook and Google+

Tesco, the cheesemaker, Facebook and Google+

A couple of summers ago I got chatting to a guy in the queue to pick up a hire car at Palma airport.

Turned out he was an independent cheesemaker from Devon. We nattered for a while in the air-conditioned office whilst our respective families melted in the Majorcan heat outside.

Then I watched, aghast, as his hard-earned holiday imploded.

His phone rang.

He stood to one side to take the call.

He was clearly agitated.

It turns out that he had just effectively been summoned back to the UK for a make or break meeting with Tesco. Fly back or lose your listing was the gist of the call. And, no, it can’t wait until after your holiday.


Every Little Helps and all that but I find Tesco increasingly hard to like.

Then you see a tweet like this.

On the one hand there’s nothing wrong with playing commercial hardball.

Tesco would probably argue that this wouldn’t be happening if the Premier Foods brands in question were strong enough to command a higher price.

But I’m at the point with Tesco where I question their motives. I don’t think they care about the right things. Or they don’t care enough.

I get the impression that Morrisons is doing rather well just now. We don’t have one near us. But I’d flock to it if we did. My anyone but Man Utd attitude to football has now transferred to Tesco.

And I’m heading that way with Facebook.

I question its motives in the same way that I do with Tesco.

It is very good at what it does and it is immensely powerful. So maybe it doesn’t have to worry about people questioning its motives.

At least not until a viable alternative comes along. Will people then flock to that?

Google+ is trying to find out right now.

I haven’t had a play yet. But I have read a mixed bag of tweeted remarks and blogged punditry. Most recently this thoughtful piece on, of all places, the All Facebook blog.

Some of the Google+ tweets have been very funny in a snarky way. But I’ve resisted the temptation to retweet any of them for cheap laughs. Partly because, until I get an invite, I don’t know what I’m talking about. But mostly because I really want Google+ to be a viable alternative to Facebook and I don’t want to contribute in even the tiniest way to strangling it at birth.

Snarky, funny tweet. But I stayed strong and didn't RT.

Tesco and Facebook are both very big and very useful.

But they’re both increasingly hard to like.

Is it inevitable that brands of this scale have their motives questioned?

Is it inevitable that brands of this scale create vacuums for viable alternatives?


  1. If you can wangle an invite to Google Plus, it’s well worth checking out. I think it’s a real alternative to Facebook, but we’ll have to see if it can build up that critical mass of users.

    Oh, and the Tesco/ManUre/Facebook analogy is a real winner – kudos!

    1. Thanks Andy. Biding my time rather than begging for an invite. Too busy to play properly now anyway. Encouragingly I’ve read quite a few people liking Google+ in spite of themselves. Seems that it is pleasantly surprising some “Google-doesn’t-get-social” sceptics.

  2. The analogies with Morrissons and Tesco are good ones. Unless you are a prolific Facebooker, as opposed to an occasional dipper like me (to be a prolific Facebooker aged 37 would be gimpish in the extreme) it feels as if you are constantly playing a game of cat and mouse. Maybe it’s easier to spot for someone like myself who works in digital media but without going in too deeply there are endless features telling you that by engaging with this particular one you are effectively happy to let Facebook come round and eat your children. No Facebook, we are not. We are just here to look at some pictures of Alan’s compound fracture mountain bike injury and some other photos of Anna’s septic ear piercing gone wrong. I didn’t come here to wade through a load of legal and compliance crap that sounds like it was written by Ronald McDonald. I think they will need to change their ways massively as this is not something that feels cool to be part of. Quite the opposite, I would be embarrassed if anyone in Spicerack caught me on it. It’s not a guilty pleasure – it’s an ashamed habit. I’m wearing Facebook patches and I think they’re working.

  3. You can add Vodafone to that list. Our company numbers eight, and we have a contract with Vodafone. Who, through outsourcing of their invoicing system to India, have not paid our outstanding invoices since March. This is after imposing a 90 day payment terms policy last year. They owe us £160k and rising – we had to max out the credit cards this month just to pay the wages and continue trading.

    Giant Company – nil
    Little Company – nil

    1. Thanks for the comment. There’s really no need for that kind of behaviour. I hope they cough up soon. That is a lot of cash for a business of your size.

      (Whilst we’re growing the list, I’d also add Sky, but that’s entirely another blog post).

      1. As of Friday, a new PO has been raised, and we have been told, by the guy in India, that our payment will go out on Tuesday’s run, arriving in our bank on FRIDAY! In this day and age, it still takes three [expletive deleted] days for a payment to move from one bank to another?

        So we are now getting a bit pissed, and wondering whether we can raise an invoice for interest – could be potential there!

        I have no beef with Sky. However, if you do do the other post, I might find out I do!

  4. One of the biggest mistakes one could make is building your business on the goodwill / robustness / foundation / whatever of another, without a proper risk assessment as to what would happen should they pull out.

    In the case of premier foods, fair enough, but they shouldn’t they have contingency in place should Tesco refuse to stock their products?

    The same goes for building your website on the facebook platform, for login, social etc. Heard of They thought it would be good to build a social network based on facebook’s platform. It worked really well for a while, record number of sign ups etc until Facebook changed the rules. Website fail and they had to ‘change tack’ It’s now a shopping site – gone is the userbase.

    I really hope g+ would appeal more than just Googlers and Geeks because FB is starting to be pretty evil – spent a small fortune on ads recently for our canoeing company and all we got was a big bill and a massive bounce rate… – btw if you want an invite, let me know 🙂

    1. Thanks Conrad. Have a Google+ invite now thanks,but no time to play with it so far.

      Never got my head round the whole Facebook instead of a website thing. Hardly anyone goes back to a page after liking, you’re a complete hostage to Facebook fortune as you say, and you cut yourself off from any long-tail SEO benefits. Multi-platform is usually where it’s at.

  5. It was more like using facebook as the only log in option, gathering all data from the profile that was allowed, using check in data, commenting on profiles and feeding that through etc – the whole site was based on data from the facebook api.

    Terms of service changed and that was the end of it. fail..

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