Tag Archives: UK

Video of the Week – Sainsbury makes us remember that Christmas is for Sharing.

Sainsbury’s is the third largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom. For this upcoming Christmas, they have released a special commercial. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, the retailers partnered up with The Royal British Legion to make a commercial based on true events that occurred in December 1914.

The ad takes place in December 1914, just four months after the beginning of WWI. The movement of the war is already over. Soldiers are now entrenched and spend most of their time hiding and sleeping in the mud. But one event changed the first months of the war. According to historical reports, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, soldiers on the Western front from Germany, the British Empire and France made an unofficial truce where they could meet in No Man’s Land, exchange souvenirs and small presents, sing songs and even play football – or soccer as you call it in North America.

In early December, soldiers from both sides stopped the fighting for a short while to rest and recover their dead. In some areas, they even exchanged conversations. Mid-December, German soldiers started to decorate their trenches with candles and small Christmas trees and ended by singing Christmas carol on the 24th – such as “O Tannenbaum” (O Christmas Tree) and “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” (Silent Night). British and French soldiers sang these songs in their language in response which led to an uncommon moment of peace.

This moment is well-known and even led to a few movies. The ad by Sainsbury’s used information about the “Christmas truce” event and partnered with the Royal British Legion, to make this ad as precise and real as possible.

This ad depicts a true and emotional event that happened 100 years ago. Even if the Great War was one of the deadliest wars with 16 million dead, human behaviour and sympathy led people to make a short truce to exchange with an enemy that they never saw and get back their dead to give them a proper burial instead of a mortar hole in No Man’s Land.

This video relies on something that everyone can do, even the men at war: share. It doesn’t matter your religion, your gender, or your race – sharing is one thing that we can all do at least for Christmas. The chocolate bar featured in the 3-minute film is available in every Sainsbury’s for £1 and all profits will be donated to The Royal British Legion.

To me, this ad is almost a documentary to educate younger people about that period of history and to make everyone remember that Christmas is about sharing no matter what the circumstances. You have one month to keep that in mind!

Video of the Week – Harrods shows the beauty of turning the lights on

Today’s Video of the Week, features one of the most iconic stores in England, Harrods, a former branch of House of Fraser that features on yesterday’s Bad Marketing. This commercial was released last month and didn’t have the same success as Sainsbury’s or John Lewis, but it is nonetheless a fantastic commercial that you have to watch.

Harrods is an upmarket department store located in Knightsbridge, London. It has over 1 million sq ft (90,000m2) of selling space which makes it the biggest department store in Europe. Every year, for the Holiday Season, they dress up the store to wow everyone – from children to grandparents..

This year, to illustrate the transformation for this festive time, they launched a commercial entitled “The Land of Make Believe – A Little Christmas Tail”. It is the first animated film for Harrods that is being use for Christmas.

It features little mice that are getting everything ready for Christmas. They carry gifts and candy canes around a big Christmas tree. One of them, called Peter Pumpernickel would like to help everyone. Unfortunately, the little mouse is too small to help and that makes him very sad. So he decided to quietly slip away so as not to bother his pals.

When Santa arrives, he sees that everyone is working well, but he notices that Peter isn’t there. Once he finds him, he finds a special job for Peter to do, where his small size will be a benefit. Santa carefully picks him up and lifts him to a little hole, that only Peter could fit through. As a result, Peter is able to fix the lights and light up all of Harrods in time for Christmas.

According to Deborah Bee, Director of Creative Marketing at Harrods, “Christmas at Harrods is an enchanting time for everyone. The Land of Make Believe brings the festive magic of the store to life, encouraging Londoners to enjoy Harrods as the ultimate Christmas destination; it’s perfect for the whole family.” And she knows what she’s talking about. Harrods is one of the most-visited places in London by tourists and especially during the holidays. During November and December, Harrods become a magical place that gives everyone stars in their eyes and smiles on their faces.

I couldn’t think of a better story to explain how these lights are turning on for Christmas. A beautifully-animated video that makes everyone happy and that needs to be shared.

*Have a great holiday season everyone*

Bad Marketing – House of Fraser Would Like You to Fall Asleep This Christmas

After last week’s extremely cheesy and sad commercial from Iceland (an ad that could have been screened in July) we have another contender with House of Fraser. To those who know House of Fraser, they have significantly different target markets. House of Fraser is a London-based department store that was created in 1849 by Hugh Fraser and James Arthur in Glasgow, Scotland.

You might know one of it’s competitors: London-based department stores, Harrods. The interesting fact is that, in 1959, House of Fraser bought Harrods. Mohamed Al-Fayed bought House of Fraser in 1985 and separated the two companies in 1994 by putting House of Fraser on the stock exchange and keeping Harrods under his ownership.

House of Fraser has always been quite a big name in the retail industry in the UK. With almost 60 stores, it makes more than one £billion in revenue each year. Earlier this decade, they had one of the fastest growing websites in the UK with comprising of 11% of the group’s sales. Upon hearing that, you might think that their Christmas campaign could be as big and beautiful as last year’s John Lewis one…

Well, it is not. Not even close.

This commercial features 3 young models, 2 young women and a young man that are asked some random questions about Christmas, such as “Best gift you ever received?”, “Hardeest present to shop for?” or “What do you give to a person who has everything?” Probably every question we are constantly being asked. Then, the music kicks in and you see the models in action, posing and so on. Oh, are you bored? So am I!

A bit after, you see the the male model with his grandmother, explaining that he chose to give her a gift, while the 2 girls chose to give gifts to their significant others. You can therefore appreciate their reaction while the tagline “Be You No Matter Who This Christmas” appears.


What can I say apart the fact that it is a terrible commercial? I truly can’t believe how uninspired and uncreative you have to be to make this. It makes you yawn like it was almost midnight on the 24th… Maybe you should put this ad on repeat to help your kids fall asleep on Christmas Eve?!

I really don’t get the point of showing models giving gifts to their loved ones. Don’t we already know that they are people who have a life, human interactions and feelings? We know that these people aren’t just a picture. You don’t need to feature them in a commercial to make us feel close to them.

For such a company, it is a pity that they could make such a thing and this is why it features on today’s Bad Marketing.

For Iceland Foods Christmas isn’t that special

Good morning December! You’ve finally arrived. We can finally admire your Christmas commercials without feeling too awkward. You never let us down, with your gorgeous and poetic advertisements. But we’re also really amused at the terrible ones!

On today’s Bad Marketing post, we will see a commercial that comes from the other side of the Atlantic, where Her Majesty rules the Kingdom. The United Kingdom has given us a treat with this commercial from Iceland, a food-retailer business specializing in frozen food.

This Christmas commercial features Peter Andre, a British singer, presenter and TV personality. Although I’m not a good judge in this instance, by the reactions of the ladies in this commercial, he must be quite famous and attractive!

The ad starts with an elderly couple doing their groceries at Iceland, when the woman notices Peter Andre. Her husband says that “it isn’t” him, but the woman is quite sure! So Andre takes notice and replies “it is!”

Here’s the joke – he’s not talking about himself. He’s talking about the cake in his hands – the “winter berry glistening gateau” – which he’s thrilled to find at £4 (about $7). “It is!” refers to a festive Christmas cake.

As Andre is ogled and hit on by various ladies at the Iceland grocery store, he can only focus on the Christmas cakes, their deliciousness and their excellent prices. The tagline “That’s why Peter goes to Iceland” ends the commercial and serves as a reminder that cheap products doesn’t mean cheap quality and aren’t only reserved for low-income families.

Where this commercial fails is on the way the message is sent. It’s not just a Christmas commercial. This ad could play at any time of the year, all you’d have to do is remove the garland and Christmas packaging. The cheapness of the products is not so much of a problem. But focusing on it for a Christmas commercial is a bit too déjà-vu as you can see the same kind of commercial during the rest of the year.

You can’t continue your campaign just by hinting that the products are for Christmas. This is a terrible idea. Your daily consumer already knows who you are and your prospects won’t be more attracted to your store than before. It is the same kind of ad they saw the rest of the year, and if they didn’t become one of your customers, chances are that this one won’t help either. As a result, this is why it’s featured in our Bad Marketing blog post!

Video of the Week: Banned Advertisement, “Marmite Rescue”

For this week’s post, let’s mix things up with a little controversy. I should preface this by saying that some readers may find this advertisement distasteful. On the other hand, some may find this coy and brilliant. In either instance, it get’s you talking, which I’ll elaborate more on later. Marmite, the salty breakfast yeast spread enjoyed primarily in Britain, worked with Cannes’ 2014 agency of the year winner adam&eveDBB. The ad itself was released in 2013, but received most of its acclaim in 2014. Interesting to note, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) recoded 250 complaints within the first twenty-four hours of the commercial’s release. This comes as a bit of a shock when taking into account Marmite as a breakfast brand, usually set on maintaining a family-friendly brand image. Depending on how you read into it, that statistic either spells out a clear home-run or regrettable fumble.

So, why the controversy? Marmite’s advertisement was unmistakably inspired by reality and/or documentary-style television shows that follow animal protection workers as they investigate cases of reported neglect. The shaky camera follows the Marmite workers into different residences where they rescue neglected Marmite jars from kitchen cupboards around Britain. They carry the rescued jars in tiny cages and bring them to the Marmite Rehoming Centre where new potential families look to adopt. The guilty culprits of Marmite neglect are ashamed and remorseful, and at one point we even see the taxing toll the job has on one of the workers, as he weeps behind the truck confessing to a coworker, “I’ve not seen one that small before”. At the end, we join a family in their home who have just adopted a new jar. As their youngest child takes a bite, he makes a grimace at the taste and the voiceover restates their slogan, “Love it or Hate it. Just Don’t Forget it.”

The bulk of complaints came from viewers accusing Marmite of trivializing and corporatizing animal abuse, neglect, and rescue efforts. In one respect, they are making a laughing matter out of a very serious issue, so it’s understandable that viewers who are especially passionate about animals rights could take offence. Not to diminish the value of these complains, but my personal opinion–and this is coming from a vegetarian animal-lover who semi-regularly fosters animals from the SPCA–is on Marmite’s side.

Humour, if used properly, can be a solid means of communicating a point or position. It can also be a great subversive tool to hammer that point home. If Marmite’s financial benefit from emulating this serious genre of show is your issue, I would recommend directing focus to the mothership–the television networks who pioneered the genre for their own gain. Moreover, I view this work as more of a hit on the television style and genre than the subject matter at hand. If anything, it reminds the viewer that there is an entire industry crafted around exploiting causes of the like. Even though it is humorous in nature, I would argue that it really does stress the difficult job of animal abuse workers.

Now, all that aside, Marmite’s slogan is “Love it or Hate it. Just Don’t Forget it.” That’s exactly what this commercial accomplishes. It splits its audience, whirls up conversation, and a year later, it’s still as punchy as ever. To be acclaimed at Cannes is a big deal, and side note, PETA also affirmed their support of the commercial. This tongue-in-cheek commercial did exactly what the brand set out to do. And you must admit, the ridiculousness of rescuing jars from houses in residential Britain is pretty funny. It may be insensitive to some extent, I’ll accept that stance, but when the dust has settled, it’s probably done more good than harm by reminding people about the cause through farce. The final shot of the child’s less-than-impressed face is also perfectly placed. If you’ve ever tried Marmite or the similar Australian version Vegemite, you know that the pungent taste also divides, probably to greater extents than this commercial.

In closing, Marmite produced a cheeky ad that got more flack than merited, or alternatively, just as much as they intended.