Sainsbury’s Christmas ad offers new twist on Dickensian London | Business


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Sainsbury’s has given Father Christmas a Dickensian origin story in a festive advert that aims to remind viewers of its 150-year history at the heart of the British high street.

The TV campaign, which launches on Tuesday during ITV’s Emmerdale and then goes online, tells a Christmas story based around the first Sainsbury’s store, which opened in 1869.

The ad follows the story of an orphan, Nick, who is wrongly accused of stealing a clementine from the Sainsbury’s store. After suffering further trials and tribulations, he turns out to be the child who will one day be Father Christmas.

“There was a shop in 1869 [and with it being] Dickensian London with loads of the tropes of Christmas we needed to play on that,” said Laura Boothby, head of broadcast marketing at Sainsbury’s. “How can you tell the origin story of Father Christmas – like Batman – and turn him into a superhero.”

Sainsbury’s Christmas ad

This year’s campaign aims to reinforce Sainsbury’s credentials as a stalwart of British life and a fixture on local high streets for the past 150 years, reinforced by the strapline “Helping make Christmas Christmas since 1869.”

Despite the focus on the supermarket’s British roots, the ad campaign was filmed on a set in Romania. Boothby said that Sainsbury’s decided against filming its anniversary campaign in the UK for a number of reasons, including cost and weather.

“There was a studio lot there with a Victorian London set, which saved a bit of money on CGI [special effects] and made it authentic,” she said. “One of the challenges is the UK weather. We wanted it to be bright and dry and then add snow.”

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The ad is a return to historical themes by Sainsbury’s. In 2014 Sainsbury’s recreated the Christmas Day truce of 1914 when British and German soldiers emerged from their trenches to exchange gifts and play football.

This year’s ad, created by Sainsbury’s ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, was directed by Ninian Doff, whose credits include music videos for the Chemical Brothers and commercials for easyJet and O2.



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