Sainsbury’s Christmas ad aims to make people ‘laugh not cry’

Sainsbury’s says it is aiming for “less tears” than last year’s epic World War 1 Christmas ad as it launches a whimsical campaign featuring a CGI version of author Judith Kerr’s fictional feline character Mog.

The ad, created by AMV BBDO, features Mog accidentally ruining Christmas by setting fire to his family’s house. However, the fire service and neighbours come to the rescue with food and presents alongside the returning Sainsbury’s ‘Christmas is for Sharing’ slogan.

Much like the 2014 Christmas campaign, which raised money for the Royal British Legion, this year’s Christmas ad from Sainsbury’s features a tie-up with a charity.

Sainsbury’s will sell an exclusive new storybook of Kerr’s Mog in its stores with all sales donated to Save The Children. The move is a bid to raise awareness of a recent study by the charity that showed that one in five children in England are leaving primary school behind where they should be when it comes to reading and literacy skills.

John Lewis aside, UK brands have distanced themselves from emotive narrative ads this Christmas. However, Mark Given, director of planning and propositions at Sainsbury’s, insists that backing storytelling is still the right strategy for the festive season.

He told Marketing Week: “Over the last couple of years, all the Christmas marketing and storytelling has generated national discussion and anticipation. People now have more channels than ever before as they are dual or even triple screening so it is harder to get a consumer’s attention.

“I believe they still want to be truly entertained at Christmas and to feel more than just products and price.”

The ad will be premiered across 50 TV channels, including ITV and Channel 4, simultaneously tonight (12 November) at 7.15pm. Given said it is the supermarket’s “most digital and integrated campaign to date”’.

It will also be supported by smaller 10 second ads talking up Sainsbury’s Christmas food and drink, and customer service.

“This is our most integrated campaign ever and you’ll see references to it via consistent packaging down to the advertising and point of sale,” added Given.

“Last year’s ad obviously pulled on the heartstrings so we wanted to switch it up this year and make people smile while maintaining the ‘Christmas is for Sharing’ message.”

Earlier this week, Sainsbury’s reported an 18% fall to £308m in its half-year profits, while like-for-like sales fell 1.6%.

Yet despite the competitive market conditions, Given is confident the campaign will help Sainsbury’s reverse its fortunes this Christmas.

He concluded: “We are a well trusted brand with strong values and the campaign communicates that really well. Ultimately, people want to trade up at Christmas and we are excellently set for both serving customers with high quality food and customer service.”