Lidl pokes fun at Christmas clichés and Aldi in ad focusing on ‘proper festive magic’

Rather than getting caught up in an “unrealistic” vision of Christmas, Lidl hopes its twin message of value and quality will resonate with consumers in search of a good time.

Lidl wants to poke fun at the clichés of traditional festive advertising with a campaign eschewing “cutesy characters” in favour of a dose of “proper Christmas magic” in the form of cake and gin.

Launching on TV tonight (14 November) during the premiere of ITV’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, the ‘Big on a Christmas you can believe in’ campaign is set in an animated world parodying the “unrealistic” romance and sentiment of typical festive campaigns.

The ad opens on a seemingly traditional scene in a world “hushed and white with snow”, as a little girl and a robin look set to strike up a new friendship. But before they can, viewers are abruptly brought back to reality.

Rather than opting for traditional “tropes”, Lidl’s characters raise an eyebrow at the notion of “emotional gravy” and the moments of sadness often seen in Christmas ads, preferring to crack open the sparkling wine and tuck into some cheese. Even the little robin’s ode to a magical Christmas is cut short.

There is also a dig at rival Aldi and its recurring Christmas character Kevin the Carrot. The voiceover claims Lidl doesn’t “need cutesy characters when carrots taste this good”, before a crying carrot is promptly skewered by a fork.

Lidl GB marketing director, Claire Farrant, argues that Lidl has never  followed the “traditional form of Christmas advertising” and always sought to disrupt the market. Furthermore, consumer insight and sentiment analysis carried out during the planning process suggested UK shoppers were looking to brands to provide some much-needed festive cheer after a challenging year.

She believed the best way to navigate through the uncertainty was for Lidl to stay true to its core values, which are to provide the “best quality at the best value” even in challenging times.

“It was this commitment to quality and value that inspired us to show customers that a Christmas of luxury, delicious food and drink needn’t be a thing of festive dreams, but a reality,” she tells Marketing Week.

“Therefore we arrived on an idea that would supersede the unattainable promises of some of our competitors’ Christmas advertising and offer a real, truthful, living, breathing Christmas time that felt more believable.”

Lidl Christmas
Lidl takes a swipe at Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot Christmas mascot.

The team also had to consider the feasibility of shooting a Christmas campaign in the middle of a global pandemic, realising that the process would be slower, more hands on and require serious scenario planning. The first time the retailer has used animation for a Christmas campaign, Farrant believes the medium suits Lidl’s “tongue in cheek and playful sense of humour”.

The campaign riffs off Lidl’s ‘Big On’ creative platform, launched last year in collaboration with creative agency Karmarama, and seeks to put the supermarket’s value message front and centre. Farrant notes that last year Lidl was one of the few in the grocery sector to roll out a “product and price” Christmas campaign, a message she believes resonates even more this year.

The food appearing in the ad, including a free-range British turkey and deluxe 24-month matured Christmas pudding, is shot in real film to contrast the animated world.

“As a food retailer, we believe it is just as important to weave value and quality in all of our communications. We want to celebrate and share our quality, innovation and awards across our Christmas campaign, to show how good value we are without having to compromise or shop elsewhere,” Farrant explains.

“We were really adamant that the food and drink that was shot in the advert wasn’t animated to show to the viewer we have nothing to hide, our food tastes delicious and is perfect for every Christmas table. The humour and the craft in the animation helps drive the warmth and personality, which we think is a perfect balance.”

The end shot of the ad features a message of thanks to key workers and the rainbow icon which came to dominate the early days of lockdown. Lidl has also launched a ‘Teaming up to Tackle Hunger’ scheme, which allows customers to donate essential food items directly to their local community at the till and the retailer promises to match every donation made.

The initiative is the latest phase of Lidl’s ongoing partnership with Neighbourly, the platform which helps businesses connect with local communities. To date Lidl has donated over 6 million meals to an existing network of 2,220 local charities.