Waitrose has given its ‘Food to Feel Good About’ brand platform some “real rocket fuel” with its 2023 Christmas ad, says Nathan Ansell, the supermarket’s customer director, who joined in January.
For Waitrose’s first campaign with agency Saatchi and Saatchi, and Ansell’s first Christmas ad with the brand, it has taken its festive efforts to a “whole other level” with an action-packed, party-focused ad which eschews tugging on the nation’s heartstrings in favour of dialling up the fun factor.
“Advertising shouldn’t be a mirror,” says Franki Goodwin, chief creative officer at Saatchi and Saatchi. Ansell echoes this, saying he wanted this year’s ad to be “fun”. “Having a bit of levity and a bit of self-irony can go a long way in advertising,” he adds.
The 90-second film takes place at a Christmas party full of mishaps, including early guests and a power cut, with the refrain ‘when the food’s good, everything’s good’ threaded throughout alongside Depeche Mode’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. There’s also a cameo from broadcaster Graham Norton, a supporter of Waitrose as the brand sponsors his radio show.
The ad will air tonight (2 November) on ITV during Emmerdale, and Waitrose is also sponsoring The Voice in the lead-up to Christmas.
This year’s ad is a departure from last year’s campaign, which highlighted the efforts and challenges of Waitrose’s farmers and suppliers ahead of the festive season. “This year’s ad is designed to push against the established norms of Christmas advertising,” says Ansell.
“So there’s no big banquet of food that you often get in these situations.” Instead of depicting a family around the dinner table, the ad heroes its party food being passed around by partygoers.
A different dimension
Waitrose has been focusing on price this year, having released what it described as a “bold” campaign to communicate price cuts in February. It invested £100m to reduce its prices in a bid to appear more value-driven than before.
While the frivolity and fun of its Christmas ad could appear at odds with its recent pricing messaging, Ansell says the brand “listened to customers” to inform the fun approach.
“It’s really important that we’re sensitive to the cost of living crisis,” he says, adding: “We are incredibly mindful of that. The products that we’re featuring in the campaign at large are pretty broad across price points.”
The John Lewis Partnership, which encompasses Waitrose and the department store chain, is on a transformational journey, after its losses for the 2022 financial year reached £234m.
Waitrose’s customer numbers are up 100,000 this year, says Ansell, since it kicked off its price campaign. “We feel as though we’ve actually got some really good momentum,” he said.
“It’s a phenomenal brand. It’s got great strengths in quality, ethics, sustainability, which we absolutely want to retain, we’re just trying to bring a slightly different dimension to the brand. A bit more humour, a bit more of the unexpected, a bit more fun and modern.”