Sainsbury’s recruits Rick Astley for its employee-led Christmas campaign

The UK-based supermarket chain has joined the festive celebrations by highlighting its employees, customers and pop singer Rick Astley.

Sainsbury’s has launched its 2023 Christmas campaign featuring its own employees – and pop star Rick Astley – as it looks to ramp up authenticity.

The ad leans heavily on humour as a girl wanders away from her family and grabs the in-store tannoy mic to ask a certain question about Santa Claus. Happily for the store’s employees and shoppers – who react with relief – that question is ‘What does Santa eat for his Christmas dinner?’

The ad then shows a number of Sainsbury’s employees and shoppers debating the question, interspersed with shots of its Taste the Difference products laid out in front of Santa himself. Rick Astley, found in the dairy aisle, says he might like some cheese, but his suggestion is rebuffed, with one employee saying you can’t have cheese before pudding before a second sings a line from his Never Gonna Give You Up.

It is the first time Sainsbury’s real employees feature in an ad following an internal casting process. Emma Bisley, head of campaigns at Sainsbury’s, tells Marketing Week it made the decision to focus on employees as it wants to be seen as authentic.

Sainsbury’s focus on value pays off as it takes market share from discounters

It is also the first time consumers will see the supermarket’s refreshed brand proposition, ‘Good Food for All of Us’, which aims to highlight Sainsbury’s wide choice of food options. To land that message, the ad will premier at 8pm on Friday (3 November) during Coronation Street.

The focus on the food is also evident in the cut-outs that extend the campaign across a variety of channels. In addition to the main TV spot created by Sainsbury’s newly appointed advertising agency New Commercial Arts, 20-second versions focus on specific elements of a Christmas dinner, including party food, desserts and budget-friendly options.

Bisley says: “The festive season is a magical time of year and our role is to help our customers have an extra special Christmas, especially when it comes to the food. We wanted to create an advert that champions our colleagues all over the country, as well as highlighting the innovation of this year’s Taste the Different range.”

Sainsbury’s announced its interim results yesterday, revealing that its focus on value and price matching has allowed it to win back market share from discounters Aldi and Lidl. For the six months to 16 September, grocery sales for the period were up 10.1% against the previous year, which the brand attributes to a further £118m investment in lowering prices.