Sainsbury's has had a tough week. On Tuesday, one store accidentally displayed a poster designed to inspire staff to get customers to spend 50p more on every shopping trip - branded as the 50p challenge. The poster went viral, attracting widespread mirth online. Now Lidl is rubbing it in: launching its own 50p challenge - to help customers save as many 50ps as possible.
The original poster was intended to be displayed in staff-only areas, and was part of a drive to boost Sainsbury's sluggish sales. However on Romford Road in Stratford, staff put the poster in the window. One customer tweeted the poster, and it went viral - being retweeted more than 5,000 times.
Now Lidl has put adverts in two national newspapers which bear a striking resemblance to the design of the Sainsbury's poster, but encourage customers to save 50p rather than spend extra.
Tough week for Sainsbury's
Sainsbury's is understandably concerned about sales. In Wednesday's results announcement it said sales in the previous three months (excluding fuel) had fallen 2.8%. It was the third period in a row that the supermarket had announced falling sales, and as a result the share price fell to a six-year low. In one day, £1.2 million was wiped off the combined value of Sainsbury's, Tesco and Morrisons.
The discounters meanwhile are laughing. This week Aldi announced that sales had risen 36% in 2013 and pre-tax profits were up 65%.
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Perhaps Sainsbury's new Chief Executive, Mike Coupe, can take some comfort from the fact that Sainsbury's isn't the first company to have been embarrassed by a poster.
The Co-operative was memorably humiliated by its adverts when it put up posters back in May advertising May Bank Holiday deals "Because the weekend a third longer". It didn't take long before social media informed them that their maths was awry, and that the weekend was actually 50% longer.
Tesco has also had its own poster gaffe. In March this year it was advertising its £1 milk with a photograph of cows. Unfortunately for them, twitter users in some farming communities spotted that the picture was of beef cows - reared for their meat. It was forced to pull all the posters immediately.
TSB suffered a similar fate. Last September, it launched its new branches, with posters in each area celebrating a return to local banking and mentioning the area by name. The idea was to show how in touch with the community it was - but it backfired in Ashtead when it spelled the name of the village incorrectly - as Ashstead.
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