Visa has once again recruited independent shopkeepers to contribute vocals to a rendition of a classic track in its Christmas spot, created by Saatchi & Saatchi London.
Speaking to Campaign, Suzy Brown, head of marketing, UK and Ireland, at Visa, said it was set to be the brand’s biggest-ever campaign in the UK, with an increased spend on last year, and that it was expected to reach 97% of the UK population.
This time, 13 retailers perform Somebody to Love by Queen, while 150 shopkeepers from across the country will be supported by broadcast, out-of-home, print and social media activity and earned media amplification.
The 60-second ad will air for the first time at 9.15pm tonight (5 November) during the Pride of Britain Awards on ITV and will run on TV until 24 December.
The work was written by Samuel Simmonds and Olivia Weston, art directed by George Coyle, Harry O’Grady and Emily Downing, and directed by Gary Freedman through Independent. Prodigious UK produced the stills and social media and video-on-demand activity. The media agency is Starcom.
The campaign will be supported by a trio of media partnerships. Alongside the main spot, Visa has created a series of documentary-style 30-second ads thematically tied to shows on Channel 4, each profiling a particular business. The first of these, featuring a bakery in Liverpool, will run during Junior Bake Off. It will be followed by others created to run alongside Gogglebox, Escape to the Chateau and Flirty Dancing.
Visa has also lined up partnerships with Global, which will cover 12 local Heart radio stations, and The Guardian, with work set to launch on dates to be confirmed in November.
Last year’s campaign, which featured a version of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You, prompted local retailers to create copycat versions of the ad. Inspired by that response, Visa is officially inviting local high streets to make and submit their own versions to be independently judged – with one winner being rewarded with a primetime TV ad slot.
— Everything Thirsk (@ThirskTown) November 30, 2018
Thirsk Christmas Advert' 18 brought to you by Thirsk Local Independents, our way to say "Thank you" for keeping it Local all year round! Also featuring our very own Yorkshire Vet Peter Wright :)#ShopSmallUK #KeepItLocalThisChristmas #Thirsk #Christmas #NorthYorkshire #Hambleton pic.twitter.com/xaKcJ4ieng
"Last year was our first big Christmas campaign in the UK," Brown said, commenting on the decision to take a similar approach to last year.
"That provided us with some really fertile territory – it resonated really well with the public, we got some great feedback on social media, it really resonated well with independent merchants. We also had some strong impact in terms of brand health, affinity and differentiation."
This time, Brown said, Visa aspired to make it "bigger and better". While other songs were considered, she said that Somebody to Love quickly emerged as the right choice, with the success of last year’s blockbuster film Bohemian Rhapsody demonstrating the appeal of Queen’s hits across the generations. "It immediately clicked, in terms of the tonality, the fact that Queen are an iconic British band and the words sum up what we’re trying to say," she added.
The environment for retail is challenging and given yesterday’s news about Mothercare, it’s tempting to observe that a more appropriate choice of song might have been Another One Bites the Dust. But Brown argued: "What we’ve seen from some of our research is that seven in 10 people really want to support their local high streets – they really want to see them thrive."
Brown said it was important that the retailers represented the breadth of the UK, both in terms of being a diverse group of individuals and covering every corner of the country. "We wanted a really broad geographic reach. We wanted a real diversity of merchants," she explained. "A lot of them have some really interesting back stories – what we wanted to get across is why they feel the high street is important and to give them a platform to say why where you shop matters."