Natalie Lee, a UK blogger who goes by the screenname Style Me Sunday, was challenged by Aldi to spend £25 a week to feed her family. The challenge was covered in UK tabloids, where she was called a "savvy mother" for breaking down her budget because most people spend around double at grocery stores each week.
However, though some followers were rooting for her to complete the challenge, others called her out for being tasteless. Some found it offensive, with one user commenting: "I have had to do a weeks food shop with five pounds in change, let me tell you, £25 for the week would have been an absolute LUXURY," she wrote.
View this post on Instagram
AD | Aldi has challenged me to feed my family of 4 for a whole week - breakfast, lunch and dinner for £25 to see if it’s possible. January is probably the hardest month of the year financially for most people, so I’m interested to see if I can feed my family with a well-balanced and nutritious weeks food shop. What do you think? Follow along on my stories to see how I get on... @AldiUK
The user told BuzzFeed News that she felt the need to respond because she wanted to "help put a voice of reason that often gets lost in influencers' echo chamber comments. I wanted to raise the very valid points of how offensive, and poor taste it is, not to mention totally missing the mark," she said.
View this post on Instagram
#AldiPoorestdaychallenge @aldiuk this hashtag is truly one of the worst things I have seen on Instagram in a while. Whoever came up with this hashtag in your marketing department could only be someone who has never been poor or has no empathy with the 14.3 million people in Britain who are currently living in poverty which of this number 4.6 million are children. Did you know that 8.3 million are working adults which means they are increasingly likely to be in working families. In your advert do you not think that an approach of budgeting may of come across less offensive? Instead of this you decided to use #povertyporn to get customers into your shops but again why were you not looking at your demographic of who actually shops in your store, our money was good enough when you first opened your shops in the UK so why use influencers who have no idea of how we live to promote an advert on Instagram that is poor taste. People like myself who as a single parent can work sixty hours a week but after bills and rent my shopping budget is 30/40 pound a week max this has to include meals, lunches, toiletries and cleaning products. Right now I am not able to work so surviving on sick pay makes everything a lot harder honestly it makes it nearly impossible. If I am completely honest I am completely dumbfounded and extremely angry by this whole thing. As one of those parents who is living below the breadline I am doing my best to provide for my children. To put a roof over their head in a warm home and to fight a constant battle to provide for them. @aldiuk you have belittled and acted derogatory to a large amount of your customers, you have used #povertyporn for your own gain and for this I will never step foot in your store again. Shame on you !! @aldiuk #povertyporn #povertyintheuk #instagram #instamums #influencers #donttakethepiss #wearenothereforyouramusement #badads #shameonyou
Another user argued that Aldi's most common demographic "live 'poor' on a daily basis, and that this challenge isn't a trend for them. The chain is a known low-cost grocery store, and it was deemed "offensive' to use a middle-class influencer with no grasp on what it means to not have even a small amount of change to buy food.
"It suggests poor people aren’t trying hard enough to budget, they can get all the groceries they will ever need from Aldi for £25, so what are they moaning for? It perpetuates the myth that poor people aren’t trying hard enough," she said.
Natalie Lee, the original influencer who did the challenge, has yet to respond to any official news outlets for a comment. However, she has been responsive to Instagram replies:
"It really was thoughtless and a big mistake, lessons have been learned," she wrote.
View this post on Instagram
Aldi is hot on everyone’s lips. They collabed with some influencers to give them £25 (plus their fee) to post about their “poorest week”. Clumsy or clever marketing? Fucking stupid if you ask me. I still shop there, can’t boycott it. Can’t afford to. I’m a full time working mother receiving disability benefits for my child and I have a (small) amount of debt. This is what it costs on average when I do my weekly shop. £50 thereabouts and I do a top up at Morrisons for my faves (and wine). So we’ll say £70. Look how full my fridge is. This is my #mypoorestweek but isnt it everyone’s? Simple answer no. It’s the 127th of January and most are waiting to get paid. But Aldi’s target market isn’t those of us who got paid the week before Xmas, it’s those who’s “poorest week” sees them trying to find bargains and yellow stickers (or red if you shop at Aldi) to feed their family who are sitting at home in jumpers cause there just isn’t enough for gas AND electric. It’s the people who are up at midnight checking the bank hoping they have their benefits. The people who don’t feed themselves to make sure their kids go to bed with a warm meal in their bellies. Those people can’t spend £70 a week on food, they don’t even get £70 a week to pay bills AND get food. £25? Even that’s a reach. And a fridge that perpetually looks half empty. I saw one of the influencers post about their meal plan. “smoothies for breakfast?” was asked. “Yes I bulk them up with oats.” Being able to see fruit as something more than a low cost snack that can be easily rationed and oatmeal as more than a warm tummy fuller is a luxury. I grew up poor, that just doesn’t happen. The rhetoric that it’s a “clumsy” campaign is an understatement. It’s tasteless, crass and insulting. The influencers who accepted the fee should be ashamed of themselves. There’s nothing more to it than that. The fact that they’ve now changed it to #swapyourshop speaks volumes.