Sainsbury's sold 34 million easy peeler clementines off the back of its Christmas ad, created by Wieden & Kennedy London, its chief executive said.
Speaking on a conference call as the retailer reported its third-quarter results covering the 15 weeks to 4 January, Mike Coupe told Campaign that it saw a significant boost in sales of easy peelers, which featured prominently in its Dickensian-themed festive spot.
"The Sainsbury's ad stood out and was the second-most-watched on YouTube – and was very much the flavour of the moment in the sense that we were celebrating our 150th anniversary and it was a great way of signing off against that," he said. "We sold 34 million easy peelers – so if there's one thing that ad did do, it was drive the sales of easy peeler oranges."
Coupe also said that marketing activity played a part in helping to boost growth in online channels across Sainsbury's and Argos.
The retailer, however, saw an overall sales dip in the third quarter, which included the Black Friday and Christmas trading periods, with like-for-like sales 0.7% lower than in the same period last year.
Grocery sales edged up slightly by 0.4%, online sales grew 5% and Argos saw its biggest digital Black Friday to date with record sales through mobile and Click & Collect. However, sales performance in toys and general merchandise was poor, Sainsbury's said.
In response to a question from Campaign about its marketing mix, Coupe said ploughing more money into digital and away from traditional TV was "an inexorable trend". He also said that direct marketing – for example, through the Nectar loyalty card – was an important marketing channel for the business.
"Big-ticket, above-the-line advertising over time is becoming less important and digital online marketing is becoming more important," Coupe said. "We now have 3.4 million digital Nectar downloads, so we have a very different way of talking to our customers through our digital real estate and particularly through the Nectar online channel."
In a statement, Coupe added: "We gave our customers a great combination of quality food at good prices this Christmas and we delivered a standout performance operationally. We have a real sense of momentum in Sainsbury’s, and investment in our stores and improvements to service and availability have led to our highest customer satisfaction scores of the year."