Asda's Christmas ad brings festive cheer to town dubbed 'a laughing stock'

Campaign celebrates modern Britain while attempting to tug on the heartstrings.

Asda: Christmas spot last year starred thrill-seeking Santa
Asda: Christmas spot last year starred thrill-seeking Santa

Asda set its festive ad in a town that was once home to Britain’s worst Christmas tree. 

Launching on Saturday, the spot was shot in Tyldesley, Wigan, where in 2016 residents dubbed the Christmas tree in their market square the worst in the country for its "dead-looking" appearance. Locals even launched a petition calling on Wigan Council to improve the tree and decorations, saying they had become "a laughing stock".

Asda brought festive cheer to Tyldesley as part of its decision to celebrate modern Britain in the campaign. "There are lots of British notes in the ad," Andy Murray, chief customer officer at the retailer, said. "We took a very keen eye to what is British now." 

After the shoot, one resident wrote to Asda chief executive Roger Burnley to thank him for "lifting up" the town, Murray added. Asda will host a festive event in Tyldesley at the end of November. 

Created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, the two-minute film tells the story of two children who spread Christmas magic throughout the town, while being cheeky in the process. It will debut during The X Factor on Saturday night, following a takeover of ITV weather on Friday evening to tease the spot. Blue 449 handled media planning and buying. 

Asda aimed to "increase the emotional storytelling" in this year’s Christmas campaign, while promoting its Extra Special product range, Murray said. Focus groups revealed that customers "didn’t want to compromise on Christmas" and still wanted to make it special despite economic and political turmoil, he added. 

"Our storyline is about giving and generosity, and with Asda’s prices you can do that. We are right on target with where our customers’ heads are at going into Christmas," Murray continued. 

Along with the film, Asda has created a digital and physical storybook about the children in the ad, called Santa’s Leftover Magic. Ten per cent of every book sold will go to the retailer’s Fight Hunger, Create Change programme. Asda is also doubling its green token donation to local charities in November and December.

Last year’s ad, shot in Prague and featuring an adrenaline-seeking Santa, was "our best campaign since we’ve been measuring Christmas ads over the last four years", Murray said. It was about "bringing everything home under one roof, and the joy and abundance" of the festive season. 

Asda maintained the same level of marketing spend for this year’s Christmas ad, but it has tried to be more effective with its media planning by releasing fewer spots – three compared with four last year, Murray added. It shot 65 pieces of content over a six-day shoot that will run on social media channels including Snapchat and Instagram, as well as food guides on Pinterest.

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