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Sainsbury’s Christmas ad may sneakily have won Christmas 2015

How and when you choose to debut your Christmas ad has become a big deal for marketers, and I for one was surprised that Sainsbury’s delayed their festive campaign launch until 12th November.

Perhaps a deliberate post-Remembrance Day move after their 2014 commercial attracted criticism for using the First World War to flog chocolate, I couldn’t help feeling they were missing the boat.

Indeed, now the John Lewis hype has died down, most of us are suffering from Christmas ad apathy – and it’s not even December!

However, what Sainsbury’s Christmas ad has done this year is actually pretty clever. The supermarket has trod its own path, stuck to its instincts, and may just have won the festive marketing battle as a result.

Rather than trying to pull at the heart strings from start to finish, the supermarket chain has tried to make Christmas FUNNY, with the story of calamitous Mog the Cat.

This is a smart move in several respects. Firstly, if you’re going to wait until after John Lewis to debut your commercial, you’re unlikely to supersede whatever tearjerker the department store retailer has put out. So you’re better off playing to another emotion.

Secondly, Sainsbury’s have reprised a classic children’s book character as the protagonist in their campaign. Those of us who are old enough to have grown up with Mog the Cat are now the big spenders come Christmas time – and many of us have kids we’d love to share Mog’s adventures with.

That’s where the advert gets even smarter. Mog’s mayhem has also been made into a new storybook, available through Sainsbury’s supermarkets. The grocery chain has even teamed up with Save the Children, and proceeds of the book’s sale go to a project funding literacy schemes for under privileged youngsters in the UK.

Sainsbury’s, this the moment you won me over.

What frustrates me most about the John Lewis Christmas advert is not the concept, but its poorly executed partnership with Age UK. Save for a donate button on the campaign landing page, as far as I’m aware it has no other fundraising ties – yet there’s plenty of Man on the Moon merchandise on sale, the profits from which will line John Lewis’ pockets.

By seeing through its charity tie-up, Sainsbury’s gives us that warm festive glow when the advert is aired, and makes us feel good inside when we bow to commercial pressure and purchase the new Mog the Cat book or two.

After all, everybody loves a happy ending… especially at Christmas time.


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