Argos invites trio of kids to star in its Christmas TV ad

Argos is running a competition that will allow three young competition winners to appear in one-off versions of its Christmas TV ad in what the brand said was an advertising first.

The spot, "Ready for take-off", was created by CHI & Partners and debuts tonight with slots during Emmerdale and Gogglebox.

It tells the story of an Argos Christmas elf working in an environment that is a cross between Santa’s grotto and a cutting-edge dispatch warehouse.

Spotting that one of the presents being delivered – a Teksta voice-recognition robotic puppy – had fallen off its conveyor belt, the heroine picks it up and embarks on a mad dash to get the toy on to the rocket-powered sleigh before it takes off.

It was created by Hayley Hammond and Dan Dehlavi for CHI, and directed by Gary Freedman through Independent. The media agency is PHD.

The retailer will run a contest across social media channels on Tuesday 7, Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 November, calling on parents to submit images of their kids with the hashtag #ReadyForTakeOff.

Three winners will be chosen, and these youngsters will then appear in newly-edited versions of the ad on Friday 10, Saturday 11 and Sunday 12.

On top of this, everyone who enters will have their own personal version of the ad sent to them online.

"Read for take-off" follows this summer’s "80 days of Argos" campaign, which aired 80 different TV executions over a 100 day run. Speaking to Campaign, Gary Kibble, marketing director of Sainsbury’s Argos, said the competition idea had come out of a desire of the brand to be experimental and try new things.

"As a point of principle, innovation is a big part of what we’re about and that’s innovation in everything we do," Kibble said, "and a lot of that is how we communicate the brand."

The story of the ad, he explained, was conceived to talk up three characteristics that research had shown consumers especially valued about Argos: its fast delivery and convenience; its ability to fulfil consumer wishes, thanks to its wide product range and choice of brands; and the tendency of Argos staff to go out of their way to help.

"The other thing we wanted to convey was energy and pace," Kibble said. "We’re about pace, rhythm and moving at the speed of the consumer’s lives." The tone the brand aimed for was "heartbeat and not heart strings", he added.

He admitted that building an emotional resonance with consumers was a challenge for Argos.

"If you talk to consumers about what does the Argos brand mean, they struggle to communicate anything beyond the rational reasons," he said. "They can’t articulate any emotional connection with the brand.

"The brand has really only talked about the rational reasons to shop – if you go back to the early 70s and look at the DNA of the brand, it’s talked about the wide range of products, value for money, and speed and convenience."

The process the brand was going through now, he explained, was shifting from talking about those benefits in simple, direct terms, to looking at what it did for its customers.

"The hard part is being able to go right into the core and ask ourselves, why do we exist? Then it’s about saying, how do we change to make that more true," Kibble added.