3 Christmas ads that make an emotional connection

I’m a big proponent of making a connection with your target market, finding something that matters to them and showing them that you understand their needs.  And making an emotional connection an be particularly powerful.

Needless to say, there’s more than one way to do this.  And nothing proves this quite as much as retail advertising at Christmas.

Checkers’ Christmas ad really irks me. It’s a stark reminder that times are tough, prices are shooting through the roof and Christmas is going to be expensive. What a cynical approach! We’re all aware of the economy, but we don’t need to have our noses rubbed in it. I’m not a fan of negativity and while I’m sure that costs will continue to rise in 2014, I certainly don’t believe it’s all doom and gloom.

For those anxious about their budget, this might just add to their stress, reminding them that there will be no let-up and next year will be even tougher than 2013.  And I’m not convinced that the emotion of anxiety and fear is one that will build a connection between Checkers and their customers.

Of course, more practical souls may find the ad reassuring, comfort that they don’t have to blow the budget to have a good Christmas and evidence that Checkers really does help them.  (Even I, who dislike the ad, believe that their prices will be keen over the Christmas period.) Take a look and let me know what you think..

Sainsbury’s, by comparison, takes an unashamedly sentimental approach that has drawn derision from some industry pundits who predict that the embarrassment will last for years to come.

I, on the other hand, like the ad and love the way it takes a look at all their customers. It’s a reminder not to neglect those for whom Christmas isn’t a time of joy and sharing, to enjoy the small pleasures of trees and shared meals and to show our friends and families how much they matter to us.

Where do you stand on this one?  Do you find it schmaltzy, or does it tug at your heartstrings?  And, more to the point, what does it do to your opinion of Sainsbury’s? Would it build your loyalty or make you shop there?

My third Christmas ad is for a British department store, John Lewis.  Their Christmas commercial is a pure delight. Using a traditional animated cartoon, it suggests that Christmas would be worth the bear coming out of hibernation for!  It’s entertaining, engaging and enough to send me off to look at their online shop.

Whatever your approach to Christmas this year, I hope you have a wonderful one, filled with joy, family and friends.


  1. Sebastian Stock on April 14, 2014 at 08:52

    Thanks for sharing these ads. Yup, don’t particularly like the Checkers ad, but I guess it is directed at a particular target market, which I am not a part of.

    My favourite is the Sainsbury ad. After all, Christmas is about people and sharing. It was quite a “real” ad. The focussed on the positives of the season, rather than the negatives. It may have been a bit too long.

    The John Lewis ad. The purpose of the ad was really only revealed at the end, which I believe was too late. The medium … animation in the “Bambi genre” … a good choice given that Christmas is pimarily directed at children.

  2. Ann Druce on February 7, 2014 at 10:15

    Just goes to show that consumers don’t all respond in the same way. And I’m glad to know I’m not alone in liking the Sainsbury’s ad.

  3. Ant Beswick on February 6, 2014 at 13:27

    Three very different ads. I like the message that Checkers delivers, no frills, economical and expect some savings. Although really bland its first time massage was good.
    Sainsburys – long. but so good. Captures the heart of Christmas.
    John Lewis – cant be sure. Great storyline and animation but ….. something just does not wow me.

  4. Pat Pughe-Parry on February 6, 2014 at 13:09

    The Checkers one is boring and doesn’t inspire me at all.
    The Sainsbury is corny but I like it. It is rather long and I would probably tune out before the end and therefore have no clue what it was advertising.
    The John Lewis one is not as long but it would probably also irritate me especially if it is repeated frequently.

  5. Claudine on February 6, 2014 at 12:52

    What a contrast! I’d certainly be more inclined to go Christmas shopping in crowds buying for the sentiment of the season rather than in crowds with a cold focus on getting the best deal because money is tight.
    That said, those sad bunny ears seem like an emotional conned-me-into-shopping-at-JL trap. A beautiful creation but I think Sainsbury’s struck the right mix of the reality and the magic of the season.

  6. Barbara on December 19, 2013 at 23:51

    Great selection of Christmas ads. Like you, I think the Sainsbury’s and John Lewis commercials are very appealing.

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