A new take on Christmas TV campaigns – Charity Christmas

13/11/12
I refuse point blank to get excited about Christmas until I have heard the tune of ‘Holidays are Coming’ from the iconic Coke advert chugging out of my television set.

For me, it means the countdown to Christmas has officially started and I’m allowed to get giddy. I’ve had this discussion with several friends so I’m relatively mollified that I’m not the only one who lives vicariously through the TV. No wonder Christmas ads are big business. Brands spend a fortune to tug on the nation’s heartstrings and make us moon with nostalgia over the festive season. Historically, Christmas ads take a similar creative approach; championing family values, the joy of giving, and the real meaning of Christmas. Somewhat ironic when you figure the main purpose is to make us part with our hard earned cash in their stores.

So it was with surprise that last Saturday I watched Waitrose unveil its 2012 Christmas campaign. The hotly anticipated, big budget campaigns that now seem synonymous with festive season viewing have been spurned by Waitrose in favour of a short piece to camera in a barren studio by Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal, promoting its Community Matters Green Token Scheme. The £1m saved on production costs will go directly to the 1,700 local charities that Waitrose supports through the scheme.

Created by BBH, the ad runs with the strap line “Giving More This Christmas”. Waitrose’s Marketing Director, Rupert Thomas, said of the campaign: “At what is a difficult time for many people across Britain, we feel that Christmas is the right time to give more back to good causes in the communities we serve.” The two celebrity chefs, who have been ambassadors for Waitrose since 2010, also waived their fee for filming the spot.

It’s a bold move by Waitrose. Most major brands have produced spectacular Christmas campaigns this year. But Waitrose has done something refreshing and unique, and succeeded in becoming sharply defined among a sea of sentimental festive schmaltz. They emerge as a retailer that promotes the real spirit of Christmas rather than evoking it for a profit. It is, after all, the season of goodwill! Shouldn’t more retailers be moving away from profligate campaigns and taking this approach?

Becky Emmott, Account Management, Creative.