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‘Tis the season for a marketing campaign

It’s that time of year again, market leaders everywhere emerge in a bid to bring out the most memorable adverts and campaigns. The Christmas advertising industry has grown astronomically in recent years, with adverts that are more like short films becoming the norm – and it looks like it’s only going to get bigger. We’ve taken a look at some of the latest campaigns rolled out by the biggest superstores leading up to Christmas.



Last month we saw the latest adverts from Tesco’s 100th-anniversary campaign. The campaign showcases iconic moments and people from the last 100 years, with a Tesco touch in the tagline: “Prices that take you back”. Their latest series of ads feature the likes of comedy duo Morecambe and Wise, and tennis player John McEnroe. There was one advert that stood out from the rest – perhaps for all the wrong reasons.

Tesco used an image of scary spice performing at the 1997 Brit awards in a bid to target consumer nostalgia. The scary spice lived up to her name, taking to Instagram to publicise her disdain for the ad. The Instagram post racked up over 48,000 likes and 2,500 comments, taking this ad into the digital realm and giving it a far greater consumer reach and impact in a matter of seconds than a bus stop ad could do in a day.

The ad was pulled following the star’s public statement on social media, teaching us all two valuable lessons; 1) Make sure the images you use in any marketing or advertising campaigns are approved 2) Social media can take down a campaign in the blink of an eye, so be prepared.


Excitable Edgar – John Lewis & Waitrose’s first Christmas ad

John Lewis is renowned for their tear-jerker Christmas ads that are brought to us each year, often with an emotional accompanying soundtrack that becomes destined for chart success. This year they teamed up with their partner Waitrose to bring us their latest small-screen Christmas film. They brought us the story of excitable Edgar, an over-excited dragon who’s enthusiasm causes him to breathe fire and leads to various problems, such as burning down the village Christmas tree.

Going down the sentimental route, the advert’s message is one that focuses on kind gestures told through the advert’s perfect mix of funny, heart-warming and heart-wrenching moments. The retail giant’s focus wasn’t exclusive to the small screen when it came to this year’s campaign. A Snapchat filter of Excitable Edgar has been created, as well as an Edgar inspired Twitter emoji (available until 25th December), perfectly reaching a wider audience through social media and increasing their brand awareness.

There’s no denying that the John Lewis Christmas adverts have always been the most eagerly anticipated and with their first Waitrose partnered ad, they didn’t disappoint. Now, please excuse us while we go and get our very own Excitable Edgar.


IKEA – silence the critics

Swedish home superstore Ikea, took a different approach when it came to their Christmas advert. While many brands go for sentimental value, Ikea has focused on an emotion that is often overlooked when it comes to Christmas – dread. Ikea’s message aims to help consumers suffering from festive home shame by showing what a difference a few spruces can make, making their home ready for any festive event.

The advert shows a couple’s family home being ridiculed and shamed by critics. Of course, being Ikea, these critics come in the form of objects around the homecoming to life. Combining this TV ad with bespoke social content, Ikea has also released short films showing customers how they can get their home ready for the festive season with a few simple tips.

The advert is fun and ties in with the previous ads from Ikea in which inanimate objects come to life, while still conveying a festive theme. Ikea’s approach is one of realism rather than fantasy, with consumers being able to relate to the emotions raised in the advert. One thing’s for sure, Ikea’s modern (see feature track from grime artist D Double E voicing the home’s “critics”) advert takes an alternative approach to the festive season and makes them stand out from the crowd.


Sainsbury’s – Nicholas the sweep

This year 150 years of Sainsbury’s was celebrated and the supermarket giant marked the occasion with a festive tale that brought consumers back in time. The advert tells the emotional story of a young orphan named Nicholas who is helped by Mary Ann Sainsbury, set around the first-ever Sainsbury’s store. Nick the sweep goes on to help others, giving out gifts to the children of the village, all while wearing a red cloak and hat.

Sainsbury’s used their 150th anniversary to look back and celebrate the part they’ve played in helping the nation celebrate Christmas, emphasising the festive theme with a Dickensian setting and a Santa-origin storyline. Sainsbury’s uses their brand experience to insinuate that the store is synonymous with Christmas and what better way to associate your brand with Christmas than suggesting you invented it? The supermarket giant also used the product placement of clementines to bring their orange brand colour to the dull Dickensian scene.

Not only did Sainsbury’s focus on the small screen premiere of their ad, but the social media one as well. After posting their advert to Twitter, Sainsbury’s engaged with consumers, replying to comments and asking Twitter users what their favourite thing about this years advert was, showing how valuable consumer and customer opinions are to them. Sainsbury’s are consistent in their brand presence and their engaging approach to this year’s Christmas campaign humanises the brand, a valuable asset for any business to have, especially around Christmas, that could help them see an increase in sales.


Expanding target markets at M&S

It’s not just an M&S campaign, it’s an M&S campaign that targets a whole new market. M&S have always been known for their high-quality and aspirational status in the supermarket industry.

In an attempt to widen their target market to families and not appeal exclusively to those affluent enough to fork out for the chain’s high prices, M&S are changing the way they talk about food and its value. Their new “Re-Marks-able” tactic shifts the focus onto making everyday food items more affordable by marking down prices, whilst still emphasising their value.

They’ve marked down over 500 lines, including every-day items such as milk; once £1.15 for 4 pints, now costing 65p with emphasis on their milk pledge that promises to pay dairy farmers fairly. With a focus across digital content, social media pushes and a whole new web page explaining the campaign, M&S kept their campaign simple, focusing on food necessities. Social posts using their trademark slow-motion videos of food, including a mouthwatering Yorkshire pudding and gravy combo, helped the supermarket giant keep their luxury and quality centred branding strong.

It’s clear that M&S’ aim is to widen the horizon of their target market. Will it be detrimental to the supermarket’s luxury branding, or will it help the chain grow and become more relatable to the every-day shopper? We’ll have to wait and find out. One thing we do know, it’s gonna take some serious price reductions before we all start doing our ‘big shop’ at M&S.


The greatest (Christmas) advert

Everyone’s favourite Christmas carrot is back. Yes, it’s that time of year again, the battle of the Christmas adverts has begun. Kevin and his nemesis Russell sprout helped Aldi nab the crown for most effective Christmas advert, according to Kantar. This year saw Aldi recreate the box office hit ‘The Greatest Showman’.

Aldi has nailed their ad once again, managing to keep it fresh by changing the theme each year. The German supermarket has managed to do what many brands simply couldn’t, they bring back the same character every year and take audiences on a journey through storytelling to stop it becoming stale.

Not only is Aldi’s advert prominent on our TV screens, but across social media as well. The German supermarket even used Instagram’s IGTV to showcase their Christmas spectacular, marketing to avid social users who might not watch terrestrial television due to the prominence of streaming and subscription services. This tactic helps Aldi’s brand recognition in an ever-changing technological age. Using new features such as IGTV prevents the brand from coming dated, helping Aldi and Kevin the carrot stay relevant and present.

Kevin the carrot and his endless Christmas adventures have become an integral part of the Aldi brand. Aldi has nailed it in terms of brand storytelling and we can’t wait to see what Kevin the carrot has in store for us next year.

Join us next month for more thoughts on the latest campaigns and creative projects that catch our eye.

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