Aldi gets my vote for best Christmas campaign

December 2017

Well few would argue that the John Lewis ad was a bit of a flop, though in fairness to the retailer it was a hard act to follow given what we’ve enjoyed them over the last five years or so. In addition, others have jumped on the heart-string-tugging bandwagon (e.g. Sainsbury’s) so the style of TV ad once unique to JLP is now rather more mainstream.

On a purely personal level, I did rather like the Asda ad with the grandfather figure moving through some sort of surreal and dream-like food production landscape with his young granddaughter. But god only knows what the marketing director of the UK’s third largest supermarket was thinking if they believed this would genuinely resonate with their relatively low-income core customer. Has the average Asda shopper even heard of Rene Magritte? I rather doubt they have, but in any event there was zero alignment between the advert and the core customer base – though perhaps the strategy was more about attracting new customers than discouraging the existing ones to jump ship (risky when you consider how they’ve already lost share to the two German discounters).

I could go on about the rest – and certainly the Argos ads were decent enough with the elf racing to get a forgotten present into the futuristic speeder (a relevant message for consumers given the retailer’s convenience and speed of delivery proposition) – but rather than droning on about ads you will have already formed your own view about, let’s just cut to the chase: The Aldi ad was the best.

Okay it arguably wasn’t at the top of the creative tree and indeed it largely followed the same theme as the previous year’s ad – namely with Kevin the Carrot – but the fact is that Aldi again succeeded in growing sales and market share by a strategy of positioning the brand as much more than just a simple discounter. In addition, the appealing campaign gained further traction by consumer demand for the Kevin toy and that of his new love Katie – albeit there was a degree of negative publicity around the retailer hugely underestimating demand for the toys. But that’s actually just a nice problem to have in real terms (e.g. even kids talking about Aldi to their parents because they want the toy – which is great for brand saliency).

Although unrelated to the ad, Aldi gained significant further positive publicity – not least through Facebook reach and in the daily press – by being the first large grocer to state that they’d giveaway unsold fresh produce to the needy on Christmas Eve. This was a brilliant move on a number of fronts, but in particular again demonstrating a positioning in the crowded grocery market that goes way beyond simple discounting. And not forgetting of course that it was ethically the totally right thing to do. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the others must have been kicking themselves.

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