Waitrose’s wonky advert fenced off by overzealous council over ‘public safety’

A deliberately wonky Waitrose advertising billboard has been fenced off by council staff concerned for public safety.

In a stunt intended as a nod to the supermarket’s prices, the billboard on the side of a home next to a busy road in London’s Clapham area was placed deliberately askew.

But with the advert’s only major features being a caption reading “well this is good, new lower prices on hundreds of your favourites”, some pictures of food items, and an arrow pointing to the advert’s wonky bottom corner, the point of the stunt was lost on at least one confused member of the public.

They appear to have alerted the council after becoming concerned that the billboard was at risk of falling down, prompting council staff to briefly fence off the street below it while they checked that the advert was indeed intended to be wonky for a reason.

Seizing on the misunderstanding, Waitrose posted a photo of the billboard and safety barriers on X, formerly Twitter, writing: “Hi [Wandsworth Borough Council] – thanks for the swift action but while our prices are falling rapidly, our billboard certainly isn’t! #noneedforbollards”.

In a statement, the council said: “We were alerted to this unusual advert by a concerned member of the public and while we could see it might be deliberately set up to look that way, we thought better not take any chances with public safety so put up some barriers to be on the safe side.

“Once we’d spoken to Waitrose and established it was designed to look this way we removed the barriers straight away.”

Waitrose, which is owned by the John Lewis Partnership, recently announced its fifth round of price cuts on certain items since early 2023, helping it to reduce the previously soaring rate of food price rises generally at its stores.

It has reportedly invested a total of £130m to do so over that period, as it seeks to fight fierce competition from M&S, which has enjoyed boosted grocery sales and claims to be gaining shoppers from all rivals, including Waitrose.

Prices at all supermarkets have soared in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with inflation at Waitrose reaching as high as 14.6 per cent in early 2023, then above Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Ocado, according to consumer outlet Which?.

However, according to an inflation tracker created by Which?, Waitrose had the lowest rate of inflation of any supermarket on the list, with its 3.5 per cent of price rises more than a percentage point lower than its nearest competitor Ocado.