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Advertising Sainsbury's AMV BBDO

From David Abbott's classics to Mog – a look back at some of AMV BBDO's most memorable ads for Sainsbury's


By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

August 25, 2016 | 6 min read

Sainsbury's confirmed it has cut ties with its longstanding agency AMV BBDO yesterday (24 August), appointing Tesco's ex-agency Wieden + Kennedy to lead its advertising account.


Most memorable Sainsbury's ads

The near 40-year relationship between AMV BBDO and the supermarket saw the duo create some memorable ads – from David Abbott's classic long-form print spots to its controversial Great War 'Christmas is For Sharing' campaign.

Here, The Drum takes at look back at some of the most memorable spots their partnership produced.

'Good Food Costs Less At Sainsbury's'


Created by AMV BBDO founder and advertising legend David Abbott, the agency's early 1980s marketing campaigns for the supermarket focused on quality rather than prices.

Designed to engage customers rather than grab their attention for a fleeting moment, the long-copy ads were written in the style of newspaper columns, with each 'headline' containing the word 'Sainsbury's'.


The campaign sought to establish a the supermarket as the place to go for fresh produce, and low prices.

sainsbury's ads

The Guardian's Stephen Bayley noted that Abbott's carefully-worded copy "artfully flattered the consumer."

"You were not being boondoggled into buying sherry," he wrote, "but invited to join a thoughtful conversation about the relative merits of amontillado and manzanilla."

'Famous Recipes'

Sainsbury's enlisted a host of celebrities, including Dawn French and Catherine Zeta-Jones to share their favourite recipes with audiences for its 1993 campaign.

Running under the strapline 'Sainsbury's. Everyone's Favourite Ingredient,' the ads were shot in a 'food-porn' style that's now become synonymous with rival M&S.

'It's Value to Shout About'

Starring Fawlty Towers frontman, and now Specsavers ambassador, John Cleese, Sainsbury's later 1990s marketing was a marked change from the brand's earlier understated campaigns.

The ad was quite unpopular, but at the turn of the century, the supermarket decided it needed a new spokesperson...

'Making Life Taste Better'

A fresh-faced Jamie Oliver landed on screens in 2000, following the buzz around his first cookbook, The Naked Chef.

The first spots starring the brand ambassador showcased Oliver's well-known laidback style of cooking and showed him heading to Sainsbury's to whip up some impromptu meals for his friends.

'Trying Something New for 140 Years'

In 2009, to celebrate its 140-year anniversary, Sainsbury's got all nostalgic with a TV spot showing how the brand had evolved throughout its history.

Featuring milestones like the first time it employed women (1914), the time is halved labels to save resources during WWII (1944) and its 2009 commitment to sourcing all eggs from cage-free British hens, the spot looked to play on viewers' emotional connection to the British stalwart.

'Here's to Extraordinary'

Sainsbury's kicked off its Paralympic Games campaign in 2011 to promote its partnership with the 2012 London event.

The wider push showed the footballer having a go at playing blind football with the Paralympics GB visually impaired team, while the hero ad 'Here's to Extraordinary' features narration from the supermarket's ambassador over footage of Paralympians in training.

Beckham's role was to get involved in campaigns such as the brand's 'One Million Kids Challenge', which was designed to encourage children of all ages and abilities to have a go at a Paralympic sport through the distribution of free equipment to schools.

'Christmas is for Sharing'

One of the supermarket's best-known ads, the brand's 2014 Christmas offering, drew both criticism and praise for viewers.

Centered around the 'Christmas Truce' between British and German troops during WW1, the ad told the emotive story of an unlikely friendship between two soldiers.

The move away from a price-led message racked up over 12m views on YouTube in two weeks, but also saw more than 700 viewers complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Ultimately, the watchdog decided not to investigate the ad, saying: "While we recognise that some have found the use of the First World War for advertising purposes to be distasteful, the ad is not likely to break the rules surrounding serious harm or offence."

'Mog's Christmas Calamity'

Sainsbury’s turned to one of the nation’s best loved children’s book characters, Judith Kerr’s Mog, for its festive ad last year which highlighted the importance of sharing at Christmas.

The popular campaign was developed in partnership with Kerr's publishers HarperCollins Children’s Books - and Kerr herself. It told the heartwarming tale of how the cat's clumsiness brought everyone together on Christmas day.

The animation generated so much buzz that Sainsbury's didn't rule out bringing Mog back for 2016, but the appointment of Wieden and Kennedy could throw any plans for the kitty's return out of the window.

Advertising Sainsbury's AMV BBDO

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