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Christmas Adverts: Waitrose VS Sainsbury's

20 November 2012

In the run up to Christmas, you can’t turn your TV on without seeing seasonal adverts… and this year is no different with each supermarket retailer trying to put their own spin on theirs. So, now is a great time to look at the social media discussion to see how the adverts are resonating on the platform.

Waitrose has taken a different approach this year. It has opted not to make a ‘fancy’ advert. Instead, the brand is hoping to donate £1 million to charity as part of its Community Matters charity scheme, using the usual amount of money set aside for its Christmas TV ad campaign as part of its donation. To make this possible, the Waitrose advert is simple and to the point. Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal stand alone in an empty warehouse with only green tokens as props.

In comparison, Sainsbury’s has gone down the more traditional route, but with a twist. It has decided to produce a series of adverts. Its 14 Christmas days campaign sees 14 different ads being rolled out at different times in the run up to Christmas.

Over the last 31 days both retailers have generated quite a buzz on social media, but Waitrose has outpaced Sainsbury’s in terms of the number of mentions. And, the sentiment of social conversations provides vital business insight. By analysing the tone of conversations around each ad, brands can gauge what has worked well, and see what has had a negative response. Retailers can also see whether these comments influence those all-important purchasing decisions by Christmas shoppers.


The sentiment chart above, generated by Sentiment Metrics, shows the proportion of positive, negative and neutral mentions surrounding each campaign. Waitrose received the highest percentage of positive comments accounting for 43.3 % of the overall number of mentions while Sainsbury’s had 15.5%.

The Waitrose advert was praised by Marketing Week when it tweeted sales had increased since the ‘unglamorous’ ad appeared on screens all over the country:

‘The power of advertising. John Lewis and Waitrose report big sales lifts after launching festive ad efforts http://bit.ly/WdI4lu’

Another tweeter believed Waitrose took a brave decision:

‘Congratulations on brave Christmas advert from waitrose - it's the best and so on the money for 2012' </em>(AntheaTurner1)

In comparison, positive comments on Sainsbury’s were mainly about the sentiment behind the campaign:

‘Really liking #Sainsburys #Christmas Days campaign. Warm and sweet with nice tone of voice pic.twitter.com/sAsC6nbI’ (@VikkiRossWrites)

‘Really like the Sainsburys #ChristmasDays campaign. Definitely my favourite Christmas ad(s) this year, emotional without being obvious.'</em> (JSho82)

Only 3% of the mentions surrounding Sainsbury’s had a negative sentiment. One social media user felt strongly against the portrayal of women in the advert:

‘Hate the Sainsburys advert where the mum does EVERYTHING for christmas. What is that about? Thought this was 2012??’ (@SessBub)

Waitrose, on the other hand, had double the amount of negative mentions with 6.2%. It seems consumers didn’t take too well to the simplicity of this year’s campaign:

‘The waitrose Christmas advert is quite frankly disappointing’ (@ElbowBaranelli)

‘Waitrose have a Christmas advert saying they’re not making a Christmas advert. I’m confused’

One Twitter user felt BOTH campaigns didn’t do each brand justice:

‘Cnt decide who has the worst Christmas advert Sainsburys or waitrose’ (@BenjShammer)

These are just two examples of how important it is for brands to bring something unique to the table each Christmas. Waitrose has shown that even by reducing investment on traditional marketing channels, it has still been talked about on social and the tone of its conversation has been more positive that its rival.

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