Sainsbury’s Sarah Warby on Christmas

Sainsbury’s top marketer speaks to Marketing Week about how she hopes the supermarket’s focus on the small moments leading up to Christmas will give it a competitive edge over the festive period.

Sainsbury's Christmas
Sainsbury’s hopes the ads will put the supermarket in tune with Christmas excitement.

Marketing Week (MW): Why have you decided to focus on the little moments leading up to Christmas?

Sarah Warby (SW): We’ve been talking to our consumers since March about what they want from a Christmas campaign. We went through several iterations of the strategy but realised pretty early on that people were connecting more with the brand when we didn’t put pressure on one big Christmas moment like the dinner or opening presents. Customers have their little meaningful rituals in the lead up to Christmas and all those moments are what makes it special. It’s that crescendo affect and it’s why we decided to focus on the little moments across 14 different adverts with our campaign. The adverts will start to feel more and more like Christmas as time goes on. The flexibility across the 14 different executions allows the brand to be directly in tune with the excitement around Christmas for shoppers. The strategy is a natural extension of our ‘Live Well, For Less’ positioning, we haven’t tried to be different for different’s sake.

MW: Supermarkets are looking to convey the emotions of the festive season this year and focus less on price and product in their campaigns. What are the challenges of being heard when your rivals are having similar conversations with shoppers?

SW: I hope that one of the big differences between our ads and other is that customers will watch them and recognise themselves. The fact that we’ve got 14 ads that are shorter than everything else that’s out there makes our campaign structurally different. By having the 14 adverts it has given us the flexibility to also talk about the product. The purpose of the advert is to convey the emotion and the insight into the customer moment firstly, but underneath that we can really talk about our products.

The campaign’s soundtrack is by Aaron Espe – who is not particularly well known – and hopefully it will make our adverts more interesting too. We’ve been conscious not to just focus on one big talking point and really try to make sure we’re resonating with shoppers. We’ve tried to push this approach through our media mix, specifically with the big outdoor interactive adverts we’re running.

MW: What other elements for the campaign will be activated as Christmas gets closer?

SW: BrandMatch is going to play a big part in our promotional push because it takes away any doubt of whether there is a better deal Asda and Tesco. We will also be launching in-store promotions and discounts around our seasonal stock. There’s a lot to come over the next few weeks but BrandMatch will be the anchor point for everything we do outside of the adverts.


Russell Parsons

It was DM what won it

Russell Parsons

In his acceptance speech in the early hours of Wednesday morning, President Obama offered hope to anyone – “black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight” – that they can succeed if “willing to try”.


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