Sainsbury’s drops ‘Christmas ad specials’ for festive singalong

The supermarket says it made a “definite conscious” decision to move away from one-off Christmas ads in favour of a more consistent brand approach.

Sainsbury’s is moving away from one-off ‘Christmas ad specials’, instead extending its ‘Living Well’ campaign into Christmas but giving it a festive flavour.

The campaign, ‘Every Bit of Christmas’, centres around an upbeat festive song written specifically for the ad that talks to the best aspects of Christmas from pigs in blankets to novelty socks and Brussels sprouts. Created by agency Wieden+Kennedy, it features members of the public and Sainsbury’s colleagues singing along, as well as cameos from festive favourites Ricky Tomlinson and Kermit the Frog.

It includes the same creative style as Sainsbury’s campaigns from through the year, with a black and white film and orange wording, as well as real people and a focus on the retailer’s food.

And speaking to Marketing Week at an event to preview the Christmas ad last week, Sainsbury’s marketing director Mark Given explained this was a “definite and conscious decision”.

“Brands are built by consistency over time, that was the brief to Wieden and we’ve done that throughout the year so it felt absolutely right to continue that into Christmas. But equally it has to have that Christmas feel and link back to the occasion, which is really important for us as well,” he said.

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Another reason for wanting to move away from one big ad was to escape the Christmas ad hype, which Laura Boothby, head of broadcast communications at Sainsbury’s, says is great while it lasts but only goes on for around two weeks.

“Everyone is launching [Christmas ads] now, there’s lots of noise on social but by about 20 November people are over it. That’s not ideal for us as we trade right up until Christmas day so we want an idea that we can adapt and keep entertaining right up until Christmas day,” she explains.

Brands are built by consistency over time, that was the brief to Wieden and we’ve done that throughout the year so it felt absolutely right to continue that into Christmas.

Mark Given, Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s has already started adapting the campaign, creating at least 25 different versions of the ad that will run across Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and TV. These include shorter versions, such as 10 seconds, and vertical versions suited to mobile.

Boothby ads: “The idea evolves and changes for different formats across the time period. That’s really important because it’s not just TV that people watch, they’re on their phones, on social media and shopping online so it’s really important this idea can change and adapt to these media channels where attention spans are going to be different.”

Given how well-known Sainsbury’s has become for its Christmas ads in recent years, it might seem a surprise it is shifting strategy. However, Boothby says its starting point this year was an “effective advertising campaign” in Living Well.

“For us success in advertising comes back to three things – if people notice your ad, if they know it’s Sainsbury’s and if they like it. Ultimately that’s what we believe is going to develop memory so they will think of our brand in more occasions. And if we are doing that we will drive sales in our stores,” she concludes.

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