Why Tesco’s ‘No Naughty List’ hit the right note with consumers

While others retailers opted for a more sober approach to Christmas campaigns in 2020, Tesco chose humour and cheekiness.

In the run-up to Christmas 2020 there were few certainties. Would families be able to spend it together? Were traditions likely to change? But when Tesco came to plan its seasonal campaign it decided to focus on the thing that definitely wouldn’t alter regardless of the pandemic – human nature. Plus, the desire for a bit of silliness in the middle of an incredibly challenging period.

Building on three consecutive Christmases of growth at the grocer, Tesco worked with agency BBH to use levity to differentiate from its rivals. To do that, it decided to cancel Santa’s Naughty List.

Aware it was walking a tonal tightrope, the campaign was prefaced with multiple rounds of research, all of which showed approval for the concept.

Then came the creative execution. First the team developed a film showing a roving loud speaker encouraging Brits to let themselves off the hook and tuck into the best of Tesco’s food and drink over the festive period. All backed by the un-Christmassy classic of Oops! I Did it Again by Britney Spears.

Supporting this TV ad was a partnership with I’m a Celebrity, Snapchat filters, gifs and games, all encouraging us to fess up.

The ‘No Naughty List’ campaign was more risky than the more sombre, reassuring tones of others in the industry. But the humour proved to be just what the British public needed. The campaign secured 522 pieces of coverage, received 23,000 mentions online, and generated nine times the conversation of any other Christmas campaign at Tesco.

Finding opportunity in a crisis saw Tesco win the 2021 Marketing Week Masters award for Multichannel Marketing.