Walters stars in Publicis' Asda Christmas advertising

Asda, best known for the pocket-slapping customers in its advertising, is entering new waters with its Christmas TV campaign, fronted by the actress Julie Walters.

The Oscar-nominated star of films such as Calendar Girls and Educating Rita plays a fairy godmother in three commercials for the UK's third-largest supermarket chain.

Publicis devised the spots, which will break on terrestrial and satellite stations on Sunday and run for the rest of the year, in a bid to convince shoppers Asda is a "one-stop shop", capable of catering for every need during the festive period.

Carat is planning and buying media for the campaign, which launches with a 60-second spot featuring Walters planning a holiday in Barbados rather than staying at home and granting wishes.

Stopped by an astonished airport check-in girl, Walters convinces her she isn't needed at home because Asda has everything under control.

Claire Baylin, the Publicis account director on the business, said: "Walters is a fantastic character who adds a wonderful humour to the campaign."

Andy Wakefield, Publicis' creative director, produced the commercials, which were directed by David Evans through Annex Films, with post-production through Cut & Run and VTR.

Chris Pilling, the Asda marketing director, commented: "The campaign demonstrates our key strength as a retailer - that is our ability to cater for all of our customers' needs, both food and non-food, at the lowest possible prices."

Since its takeover four years ago by Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, Asda has waged a massive price war that has shaken up the UK supermarket business.

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