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Posted on Fri 27th Nov, 2015 in: Industry Comment, Influence, Marketing, Reputation Management by Emma Lister

Christmas is well and truly here as far as retailers are concerned, with the key players launching their festive ad campaigns in the last three weeks. There have been some surprising and some not so surprising choices for Christmas themes this year. John Lewis opted for a tear-jerking story-telling advert which, once again, uses an updated version of a well-known song to stick in consumers' minds. Asda, on the other hand, used a simpler message of '#Becauseit'sChristmas' with X Factor star Fleur East's feel-good, catchy new tune 'Play that Sax'. Though this Christmas, my hat goes off to Sainsbury's. It wasn't only an advert the retailer launched, it executed a fully-integrated CSR campaign that includes advertising, PR, social media and, most importantly, merchandising, to really add meaning to its festive proposition. Sainsbury's has taken a bolder approach to storytelling and created its own book based on a well-known children's charater, to run in conjunction with the launch of its Christmas ad. Written by Judith Kerr, Mog's Christmas Calamity is available exclusively at Sainsbury's stores and tells the story of a clumsy cat that experiences unfortunate events the night before Christmas, while everyone's asleep. The aim of the campaign is to highlight and raise funds for Save the Children, and ultimately encourage children to read more. Shoppers have bought tens of thousands of copies of the book, making it the UK's best-selling book this week, and so far the ad has had over 16 million views on YouTube and is rapidly becoming one of the most-watched adverts for 2015. It's funny, sad and heart-warming all at once, so I couldn't help but admire the supermarket's work. The idea of 'giving something back' at Christmas isn't unusual for Sainsbury's, as last year it sold the vintage chocolate bars from its wartime Christmas ad, in aid of the Royal British Legion. But this year, the supermarket has taken its campaign to the next level. As well as the book, Mog cuddly toys were also available as a keepsake for kids looking to embrace the tale. Mog has stolen the hearts of the nation and the cuddly toys have become a 'must-have' item for children across the UK. The hapless cat has also created wider headlines with stories like "This cat looks just like Mog"? and after just 10 days the Mog toys completely sold out in stores. The supermarket's bosses announced they had a "limited supply"? and will not be selling any more. Unsurprisingly, this has been met with a backlash from disappointed parents desperate to purchase one for their children. Some have even forked out at least six times the shop price and purchased one from eBay. For the many consumers - young and old - obsessed with the troublesome cat, a behind-the-scenes 'making of Mog' video was produced, giving viewers some insight into how it was created. Social media has given Sainsbury's another channel to promote the book and share its ad on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, generating thousands of likes and retweets, as well as positive engagement, with followers using the #Christmasisforsharing hashtag. It's clear that Sainsbury's has worked hard at its campaign this year, whilst giving something back and reminding consumers of its 'Christmas is for sharing' message. It's too soon to tell if it will affect where people shop over Christmas or if it will encourage children to read more, but it has certainly raised a significant amount of awareness and money for the charity. For that reason, I personally think that it has won the battle of the festive ad campaigns this year.

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