Tesco’s Bold Christmas Approach Pays Off Again


The Christmas Party


Tesco and agency BBH London have an unusual approach to Christmas ads and it’s proving popular with audiences. While most brands stay well away from Britain’s economic and political turmoil and offer escapism instead, Tesco dives right in with “#StandForJoy”, a satirical party political broadcast from “The Christmas Party” and a manifesto pledging more joy.

It’s a risky approach, but that’s nothing new for the brand. Their Christmas advert last year – featuring Santa showing off his NHS “vaccine passport” – riled up the anti-vaxxer crowd and became the most complained-about ad of the year. It also managed a strong 4-Star Test Your Ad score. This year they’ve gone one better, scoring 5.2-Stars, one of Tesco’s best results.

There’s no “Santa moment” to create controversy in “#StandForJoy’” but the ad still works as a rebuke to anyone suggesting brands should handle current events with kid gloves. This isn’t satire in a Have I Got News For You sense, but it is looking at 12 months of chaos and cuts through a gently comic lens, trusting that viewers will have the good humour and good sense to laugh at the madness of Britain 2022 as well as recognise the joy.

Just as in 2021, Tesco and BBH don’t try and weave all their ideas into a single story – the ‘Christmas Party’ is a framing device for a bunch of jokes and images, and if you don’t like one, another will be along in a few seconds. Done badly – and many montage ads do it badly – this rapid-fire approach means nothing really sticks and the ad becomes a mess of unconnected images.

Fortunately Tesco do montages really well. Every viewer will have their own favourite moment – maybe it’s the choir of carol singers promising an end to bedtimes, or the man delighted to find out it’s Bin Day. So the chance of the ad leaving a positive impression is far higher. And a lot of viewers clearly enjoy the whole thing – our moment by moment reading of happiness levels in the ad showed a very even level of strong positive response and almost no negative emotion.

If there’s a lesson for brands from the Tesco ad it’s that humour is a remarkably powerful tactic even when dealing with the trickiest situations. Tesco and BBH have walked a fine line here in mocking the political chaos of 2022 while never making light of the effects of all these crises on their customers. The outcome is a 5-Star ad which reassures viewers the supermarket is firmly on their side, while still making them laugh.

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