To mention Covid or not to mention Covid. That was never a question for Tesco in its Christmas 2020 TV campaign, which has won the November/December Thinkboxes Award for TV ad creativity.
“We knew we had to acknowledge the year in some shape or form. It was a decision every Christmas campaign had to make. And we were in the minority that decided to acknowledge it,” says BBH associate creative director/copywriter Steve Hall. “We just thought it was too big to ignore.”
Pandemic mention out of the way, the big question was how best to get the tone right. And in this respect, consumer insight played a guiding role.
“Research highlighted 74% of the nation wanted to see light-hearted content in the festive ad offering,” says Sarah Parmar, head of seasonal and reputational campaigns and consumer PR marketing at Tesco. “Beyond just showing fabulous food and drink, they told us they were also looking for a bit of joy after a tricky year.”
Research also showed 78% of people admitting to a naughty slip-up in 2020.
“What we loved about ‘No Naughty List’,” BBH associate creative director/art director Dan Seager explains, “was the simplicity of the idea. People immediately got it, which meant once the main idea was locked, everyone got excited about how we could push and develop it further.”
As with all major festive retail campaigns, development unfolded over many months, during which research played a further role.
“Writing the ad spanned three different phases of the COVID-19 lockdown, and the mood of the nation was different in each one,” says Hall. “We had to make the ad flexible.” Which meant being able to flex the core idea – even up to and during the edit.
Raine Allen-Miller was chosen to direct for her “spot on casting” and track record of colourful, energetic work: both essential for striking the right tone and bringing to life a script driven by characters.
On the shoot, meanwhile, strict Covid-safe protocols were followed – extending even to the casting of an entirely real family – an unprecedented decision, Seagar adds: “It’s certainly made us question the traditional way. Why don’t we use real families going forward?”
The campaign – comprising TV, press, OOH, radio, social, media partnerships, in-store and PR – launched on Saturday November 14 with the 60-second TV spot debuting during ITV’s The Voice.
“TV was an essential part of our media mix because of its power to build brands, story-tell and drive reach,” Tesco’s Parmar explains. And it was the most powerful way to create a shared moment through which people could connect and that would also help lift spirits.
Response to the ad from staff and customers was widely positive, with the campaign Tesco’s most talked about Christmas offering, ever.
“With our ambition to capture and play out some of the naughty little things that we were all guilty of in a challenging 2020,” Parmar says, “we managed to unite the nation and create a campaign that was truly relatable to all.”
Second place in the Thinkbox’s November/December winners’ line-up went to ‘The Show Must Go On’ by Lucky Generals for Amazon. ‘Merry Xmas’ for Plenty by AMV BBDO was third.
Also shortlisted were ‘Give A Little Love’ by Adam & Eve/DDB for John Lewis & Waitrose and Partners and ‘Then, Now, Always’ for the NHS by MullenLowe London.
Agency: BBH London
Creative team: Daniel Seager, associate creative director/art director; Steve Hall, associate creative director/copywriter; Tom Drew, creative director.
Clients: Alessandra Bellini, chief customer officer; Emma Botton, group marketing communications director; Sarah Parmar, head of seasonal and reputational campaigns and consumer PR marketing
Production company: Somesuch
Director: Raine Allen-Miller
The Thinkboxes, in association with Campaign, are the only bi-monthly awards that celebrate the UK’s world-beating TV ad creativity, in all its forms. They are judged by the Thinkbox Academy – 200 advertising and marketing luminaries who have been involved in award-winning creative work for TV.
Thinkbox is the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK, in all its forms. Its shareholders are Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media and UKTV. Thinkbox works with the marketing community with a single ambition: to help advertisers get the best out of today’s TV.