Celebrities star in Woolworths' Xmas drive

Woolworths is reintroducing celebrities into its Christmas advertising for the first time in 30 years in a pounds 10 million TV blitz for the festive season.

The veteran slapstick comedian Norman Wisdom, the TV weatherman Ian McCaskill and the presenter Richard Whiteley all feature in the six ads breaking nationally this week through Bates UK.

Each one has a seasonal twist to the theme introduced last year presenting the stores as having so many items to choose from that shoppers risk forgetting what they went in to buy. The theme is encapsulated in the endline: 'Don't forget what you went in for.'

They are in line with Woolworths' strategy of promoting its outlets as more than just places for cheap stocking fillers but as 'must visit' locations for Christmas shoppers.

At the same time it has been encouraging infrequent shoppers to reappraise Woolworths through its range of products and value for money.

The 'don't forget' theme is underscored in one of the commercials by a father who sees Wisdom walk into a bollard and is reminded that he forgot to buy nutcrackers.

In another, the sight of McCaskill reminds a woman to buy an umbrella to protect her party dress, while in a third the appearance of Countdown host Whiteley jogs a customer's memory that she must get a Scrabble game.

The films were written by Neil Pavitt, art directed by Andy Rott and directed by Martin Jones for TTO2. Media buying is through Zenith.

Ken Lewis, the Woolworths marketing director, said: 'Last month we showed the ads to our 800 store managers at our annual conference and they got the most positive reaction imaginable.'