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Watch Asda’s Christmas ad: retailer plumps for 'emotional' storytelling to woo shoppers

Asda has revealed its Christmas ad campaign, a departure from last year’s fast-paced, product-packed spot in favour of an emotional story about a little girl and her brother spreading joy through a Northern town.

A two-minute spot (shown above) was aired on ITV during The X Factor: Celebrity.

Called ‘Let’s make Christmas Extra Special,’ the aims to shows the effect that a little act of generosity can have.

It’s set to a live orchestral performance of ‘Lighting Up Christmas’ composed by Rohan Stevenson and James Radford and opens with Tilly, a little girl who spots the Northern lights. Remembering something her grandfather said, she begins to explore ways of capturing the special Christmas magic in the sky to share with her bleak town. Alongside her brother, she then turns her village into a winter wonderland.

“We truly believe that with great quality products at leading price points; everybody can have an extra special Christmas with Asda,” said Asda’s chief customer officer Andy Murray.

“We know the most important thing to our customers at Christmas is spending time with family and friends. These are the people who make Christmas special and they’re willing to go the extra mile to make sure the occasion is truly magical.”

Getting more value

It’s perhaps a surprising change in tactic from the adrenaline-fuelled campaign of last year after Murray claimed that the spot was the “best ever performing campaign that we’ve had at Asda” in the past three years.

“But we tried to unpick the data to find out what we could learn,” he said. “We learned we could do with a few less spots and do more storytelling.”

Though its production and media budgets have remained the same as last year, Murray said in the “current economy” it had to get more value from the blockbuster shoot. Over the six days the ad was filmed, Asda and its ad agency – AMV BBDO – created in excess of 65 individual pieces of content to be used across print, TV, out of home and social.

In addition to the two-minute ad, Asda will air a 60-second brand ad and shorter 30 and 10-second product-focused versions throughout the festive period.

Inspired by retailers like John Lewis, it has also, for the first time, created a book telling the story of the ad which will be sold in stores. All proceed will go to a hunger prevention charity alongside a £10,000 donation from the supermarket.

‘A Brexit bubble’

With the date for Britain to leave the EU once again postponed and a general election on the horizon, thinktanks have cautioned that this Christmas could prove tough for retailers if cautious shoppers reign in their spend.

A recent YouGov survey showed consumer confidence falling to a six-year low while the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said that the ongoing uncertainty was “adding strain” to an already beleaguered sector in the lead up to its most critical time of the year.

Despite the worries, Murray said that Asda had not changed its Christmas marketing strategy from years past and would continue to invest heavily to win spend.

“We ask our customers every year and there's a bubble in the way they look at Christmas; it's a special time and they're not going to compromise the moment,” he said. “The thing we have seen is that they shop earlier to spread the spend. We’ve seen search activity sooner than we would have last year.”

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