Tesco hopes to build on last year’s Christmas success with a time-travelling delivery van

Tesco is hoping a “fun and festive” approach to its Christmas marketing can boost sales despite economic and political uncertainty.

Tesco is launching a Christmas campaign to celebrate its centenary year by showing a time-travelling delivery van and its driver, who journey through the decades.

Created by BBH London, the ad takes inspiration from the film Back to the Future with a delivery van that is transported back through time when it is hit by falling Christmas lights. Set to the song Sleigh Ride by The Ronettes, the van is first transported to Dickensian England before making deliveries to Winston Churchill at No 10, Buckingham Palace and a young Queen Elizabeth, 1980s TV game show Bullseye and various Christmas parties, including a rave.

Product takes centre stage, with items including turkey, mince pies and cheese appearing in the delivery boxes. The festive campaign follows centenary marketing activity featuring iconic characters including Mr Blobby, Morph and Des Lynam.

“Because it is our centenary, this year is all about celebrating 100 years of great value and delivering Christmas; that is at the core of our campaign,” said Tesco chief customer officer Alessandra Bellini, speaking at a press event this morning (15 November).

Tesco kicked off this focus on value with the launch of Clubcard Plus, a subscription loyalty service that offers customers benefits including 10% off two big shops, 10% off essential Tesco brands, double data on Tesco mobile and a credit card for its bank.

Clubcard Plus: Tesco unveils next steps for loyalty scheme

“This is the first time we are bringing the best of Tesco to help families manage their budgets. And that is the real insight, helping families managing their budgets as opposed to just offering savings,” she said.

The campaign builds on this, with quality and value messaging key.  The activity, which ends with the line ‘Delivering Christmas for 100 years’, will run across TV, press, outdoor, radio, digital, social, PR and experiential, as well as in-store.

There are also a number of media firsts, including a Snapchat augmented reality lens and a Facebook arcade game that allows customers to get behind the wheel of the delivery van. Plus, Tesco has partnered with ITV, Channel 4 and Sky in a deal that will see the delivery driver who stars in the ads appear on screens across programming in the run-up to Christmas.

The way we measure the [Christmas] campaign is the way we measure every campaign – does it drive the right quality and value perception, does it make people feel like they want to shop at Tesco, do they feel engaged, and does it create the right mood; in that order.

Alessandra Bellini, Tesco

The main TV ad will air from Sunday (17 November) in 90-, 60- and 30-second formats. Further 10-second spots will hero individual products and deals, with Tesco planning to shoot new versions in reaction to popular deals, suggestions from customers or events that occur.

The rest of the campaign will also be highly targeted to ensure customers across the country see relevant messaging. Making use of Clubcard data, Tesco knows, for example, that Brixton has a higher proportion of vegans than the average and therefore they will see more messaging around vegan products.

Dynamic digital outdoor will add to this, enabling Tesco to show targeted messages such as where customers can find deals, where their nearest Tesco is and the opening times of nearby shops.

“We want to make sure that following the needs and conversations of our customers, we are able to use digital and technology to be relevant,” added Bellini.

Building on marketing success

Tesco’s ‘Everyone’s welcome’ campaign last year was a success for the supermarket. Sales outpaced the market in the four weeks over Christmas for the first time in six years, while it also helped to attract 330,000 new shoppers into its stores over the festive season versus the prior year.

“2018 was a very successful Christmas for Tesco both as a business and in terms of how the campaign helped create those amazing results,” said Bellini.

“We outperformed the market, the campaign had the best emotional engagement and we saw both quality and value perception improve over Christmas, which is so important because it’s a time when no one wants to compromise.”

This year’s campaign will be judged on the same metrics, with quality and value perceptions once again important, as well as whether it makes people want to shop at Tesco.

“The way we measure the [Christmas] campaign is the way we measure every campaign, which is around ‘does it drive the right quality and value perception, does it make people feel like they want to shop at Tesco, do they feel engaged and does it create the right mood; in that order?’,” said Bellini.

“We love people to talk about our campaign, if they want to, but it’s not the only measure. [It’s more about] does it communicate enough that it makes them want to go to Tesco, and do they find the offers and the food and the things they like for Christmas?”

Tesco also wanted to run a campaign that was a bit more “fun and festive” given the mood of the nation. Consumer confidence is still well in negative territory, while the General Election on 12 December hasn’t helped to put the nation in a festive mood.

Tesco van
Tesco teases the launch of its Christmas ad campaign by putting a delivery van on the roof of a house near Manchester

With that in mind, Tesco has kicked off the campaign with some PR activity, teasing its contents by putting a Tesco delivery van wrapped in fairy lights on the roof of a house in Knutsford, near Manchester.