Sainsbury’s spotlights Christmas memories in three-part campaign

Sainsbury’s is hoping a combination of home-video-style footage and reminiscing about Christmases past will show people the festive season can be special whatever the circumstances.

Sainsbury’s is shaking up its Christmas ad format by creating a series of three videos, rather than one main advert, for its campaign this year.

Created by Wieden & Kennedy London, the campaign launches on TV this evening (14 November) and centres around family stories that aim to evoke memories of Christmas food. They all include a combination of home-video-style footage from the past, which is accompanied by phone conversations between family members in the present day.

The first video, ‘Gravy Song’, tells how a father and daughter’s excitement for Christmas gets them reminiscing about a song the dad used to sing.

This will be followed on Monday (16 November) with ‘Perfect Portions’, which shows a mum and son sharing memories of how their dad used to carve the turkey.

The final video, ‘Big Sarnie’, which will air from 19 November, shows two cousin remembering Boxing Days at their grandmother’s when she created huge leftover sandwiches.

Every ad ends with the line ‘Food is Home. Home is Christmas’. The aim is to share a sense of hopefulness and that Christmas can be special no matter the circumstances.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Sainsbury’s head of broadcast marketing Emma Bisley says the retailer has tried to strike the right balance between bringing a smile to people’s faces while being sensitive to the fact that there is still a lot of uncertainty about how we might spend Christmas this year. The campaign has been tested a number of times with consumers to ensure it fit their changing mindset, while the creative approach allowed for changes right up until a few days before it launched.

“It was important for us to focus on family connections and emotions and the power of food, creating a relatable and heartfelt look at the memories Christmas brings, while providing a sense of optimism throughout,” she says.

“As with many of our campaigns this year, it was essential that we stayed relevant to the changing state of lockdown restrictions and national mood.”

Sainsbury’s also wanted to make sure it was reflecting a range of families and their connection to food. The first campaign features a black family gathering around the Christmas table, while one ad talks of an older relatives impact on Christmas.

Bisley says: “The purpose of the advert this year was to represent a range of families and their connection to food memories, brought to life through a combination of home-style footage and phone conversations between loved ones. We know that Christmas dishes are more than just food to a lot of our customers, they’re gestures of love and care served up by the people who matter most.”

The main ads will be supported by product advertising that aims to showcase festive items, both old and new. It will run across press, outdoor, digital and social media, and promote value as well as quality.

While clearly sales will be important, Bisley says Sainsbury’s wants to ensure people have a good Christmas despite the uncertainty.

“What Christmas will look like is uncertain for all of us at the moment. We wanted to focus on celebrating how food can connect people and evoke happy memories, whether they’re physically together or not,” says Bisley.

“We want our customers to have the best Christmas they can.”

As part of its Christmas activity, Sainsbury’s will also be bringing back its ‘Brighten a Million Christmases’ campaign, which sees the supermarket match customer donations up to £4m. Customers will also be invited to donate food and other essential products.