It doesn’t matter if no one watches the Sainsbury’s movie, the PR job is already done

Yesterday I watched a trailer for a film. Except this was no Hollywood extravaganza starring the latest A-list celebrities. This was a trailer for a film by Sainsbury’s. The supermarket.

sarah145

This is Sainsbury’s Christmas marketing strategy.

The marketing blitz kicked off last night (13 November) during Coronation Street with a three and a half minute trailer. Sainsbury’s took over the entire middle ad break during Coronation Street, the first time broadcaster ITV has allowed any brand to do this.

Over the next few weeks it will run 40-second and 60-second trailers for the film on TV and push it on social media. Then there will be a premiere at a red carpet event in London before it goes online for anyone to watch.

This is a big shift for Sainsbury’s. This isn’t an ad trying to get us to spend our hard earned cash at its stores. In fact rivals’ products, including the Co-Op, appear in the ad.

Instead it’s a huge piece of branded content that Sainsbury’s has created and funded. It might be running a food and drink campaign alongside, but the film is what it is talking about.

It’s also what it wants everyone else talking about. That is the key here. In the increasingly crowded and competitive retail space, brands must come up with new and exciting ways to keep the masses chattering.

That’s even more the case now that consumers are increasingly online talking in real time on Twitter and Facebook. Content is a way for brands to make sure consumers are talking about them.

That’s why Wonga created a 30-minute film to attempt to win the heart of its critics and why John Lewis, Marks & Spencer et al are trying to tell stories with their ads. That enables them to engage with customers, to pull at their heart strings, to ask them questions and get them interacting.

Sainsbury’s says the film was borne out of a desire to understand its customers and their experiences at Christmas. It also claims it wants people to watch the film, all 47 minutes of it, hence the trailers.

In reality though, it doesn’t matter if nobody watches it. What is important is that people talk about it, that they associate it with Sainsbury’s and that it improves their perceptions of the brand.

It’s hard for the film not to do that. There are heart-warming moments of kids anxiously waiting for Santa, of a man with a spreadsheet planning Christmas dinner down to the latest minute.

The final scene, of a family sending a Christmas message to their Dad in Afghanistan and him walking into the room has brought a tear to the eye of all but the most cold hearted.

The risk? In that trying to do something new and outdo each other, retailers might actually end up driving customers away with the audacity of their undertaking.

For now customers are siding with Sainsbury’s and its emotional take on Christmas. It might not take much for them to switch sides.

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here