Sainsbury’s winning Christmas ad battle

Sainsbury’s is winning the Christmas ad battle so far, seeing the biggest shift among the big four supermarkets in both consumer perception and purchase intent since it launched ads for its festive film a week ago.

Centre piece of Sainsbury’s ad campaign is a 50-minute film featuring footage from customers.

The 50-minute film edited by Oscar-winning director, Kevin MacDonald, is the centre piece of the supermarket’s Christmas campaign. Sainsbury’s is hoping that the PR and marketing opportunities that arise from the long-form content will give it the edge in the run-up to Christmas.

Speaking at the launch of the film, Sainsbury’s head of brand communications Mark Given said the campaign is aimed at “engaging and entertaining” customers, rather than shouting about its products. A week since its launch, Sainsbury’s has already seen a boost to its brand marketing and possible sales.

Figures from YouGov BrandIndex show that awareness of Sainsbury’s ads among consumers is increasing, up 11.4 points to 40.5 over the past week. People also seem to like it, with “Buzz”, a measure of the positive and negative things said about a brand up 10 points to 21.5, helping Sainsbury’s to overtake Aldi to take the top spot among supermarkets.

The most important indicator of the success of the campaign will be whether interest and positive perceptions translates into sales. So far, “Purchase Intent” is up 6.6 points to 21.1, although there is still five weeks to Christmas and it will be the new year until companies reveal their Christmas sales.

Campaigns from rival supermarkets, by comparison, appear to have had less impact. Awareness of ads from Tesco, Morrisons and Asda is up over the past week, but only by 1.0, 2.6 and 1.6 points respectively, not a statistically significant rise according to YouGov.

Buzz has similarly seen little change, while purchase intent remains roughly flat with the exception of Morrisons, which actually saw its score drop by 3.6 points to 9.1 over the past week. All the ads have, however, managed to avoid a repeat of last year, when Tesco, Boots and Morrisons were all criticised, with the Advertising Standards Authority confirming that so far no complaints about Christmas campaigns have been received.

Elsewhere, the John Lewis ad has unsurprisingly performed well, with it’s ad awareness up 18.8 points to 46.7 following the launch of the animated bear and hare Christmas campaign. It tops the charts among high street retailers for buzz, with its score up 7.1 points to 29.1.

Purchase intent is also rising, up slightly to 13.6, putting it behind just Boots and Marks & Spencer although it has far fewer stores. John Lewis released its first weekly figures since the ad launched on Sunday (17 November) that showed sales passed the £100m mark for the first time this year and were up 10.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2012.

Marks & Spencer has also seen an uptick in both buzz and ad awareness over the past week. However, its fairytale-themed ad could struggle to translate interest into sales, with purchase intent down slightly to 23.7.

The retailer is hoping that its Christmas marketing, combined with the “Leading Ladies” campaign earlier in the year, can help to reverse declining clothing sales. There are small signs this is happening, with like-for-like sales at its general merchandise business down 1.3 per cent in Q2, an improvement on the 1.6 per cent decline in the previous quarter.

Boots is the only other retailer to have seen an uptick in ad awareness over the past week, with the launch of its Christmas ad helping increase its score by 7.7 to 28.1. Purchase intent is also up 2.8 points to 15.4.

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