Tesco has launched its Christmas campaign for 2023, which focuses on the build-up to Christmas rather than just the big day, and is part of the “longer conversation” it has been having around quality and value throughout the year.
Set to the soundtrack of OMC’s ‘How Bizarre’, the ad created by BBH shows a family gradually transforming into living festive objects like Christmas trees and a snowman as they get into the festive spirit. The more festive they get the more elaborate their costume becomes.
Tesco’s ad launches this evening (19 November) during the premiere of ITV’s I’m A Celebrity, notably later than its competitors. Last year Tesco went live at around the same time as its rivals, but this year it has chosen to zig where its competitors zag, according to group customer director Emma Botton.
“Actually to have some clear water between just being a Christmas ad in with a pack versus having a point of view is hugely beneficial to your story,” she tells Marketing Week.
Despite the festive trappings of the ad, she argues that brands should not “show up differently” at Christmas compared to other times of the year.
She says: “You have a relationship with the brand, so you can’t suddenly turn up as a different person. Slightly questionable, isn’t it? So in that respect, it is important to be part of a longer conversation and that’s what we’ve been doing all year, showing up talking about quality and talking about value.”
As a result, this focus on value and quality is threaded throughout the Christmas ad.
Like Tesco’s ads over the course of 2023, including this summer’s Clubcard-focused campaign, its Christmas campaign takes what Botton calls a “wry”, humour-led approach to showcasing its core proposition.
It is built on consumer research done by the brand that demonstrates the UK public has different triggers that get them into the Christmas spirit. In the case of the Tesco ad, those triggers are pulled through repeat visits to Tesco supermarkets over the festive period and through the consumption of its food.
It is important to be part of a longer conversation and that’s what we’ve been doing all year, showing up talking about quality and talking about value.
Emma Botton, Tesco
For example, the Tesco 2023 Christmas Report finds that nearly a third of UK adults (31%) say they find the build-up to Christmas more exciting than the day itself. That influenced the ad to show the repeat visits to Tesco stores that a family might make in the run-up to Christmas.
Botton says this allows the brand to both show up in ways the customer expects and to satisfy the commercial considerations of a Christmas campaign. “Of course, it also has to do the work to sell some champagne. And actually what’s fantastic is that you’ve got this lovely body of emotional storytelling that actually is going to do a superb job in terms of selling things.”
As an example, the ad promotes a variety of Tesco food and drink products, which will then also be highlighted in in-store creative, OOH and across social. The ad also highlights the exclusive discounts Clubcard members can access – when the father in the ad activates a discount a star at the top of his Christmas tree suddenly appears, indicating that his Christmas transformation is complete.
Botton, for whom this is the eighth Christmas campaign she has worked on for Tesco, states that it is the “storytelling beats” around value and loyalty that create “brand love”. That, she says, in itself builds a “commercial reality over a long time”, that improves brand metrics en masse rather than solely the short-term consideration metrics of traditional Christmas campaigns.
For Tesco, marketing success is predicated on a consistent “checking in” approach with its consumers. Botton states that, for a supermarket retail business, any growth is built on having that relentless focus on consumer needs that can then be fed into campaigns throughout the year: “That’s where we start. That’s where we always start.”
As a result, while the ad itself is a vital part of the message, Botton believes it is simply the “cherry” on a wider Christmas campaign that demonstrates Tesco’s understanding of the needs of its shoppers.
As part of the wider marketing drive for the festive period, for example, Tesco is giving away £1m in free shops to its consumers. In addition, it is opening grottoes in 150 of its stores nationwide, and giving away free gifts to children who attend. Botton says that is vital for maintaining the message that Tesco is there for its consumers – particularly in a year where the cost of living continues to bite.