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Asda’s customer chief on the ‘bigger punch’ of value and quality in its Bublé-fronted Christmas ad

Asda won no shortage of plaudits for its 2022 Christmas campaign, which saw Will Ferrell’s character, Buddy, from the movie Elf superimposed into Asda stores.

Despite the favourable reception, though, Asda was limited by the footage available. This year, it was therefore particularly important to the team to get singer Michael Bublé into its stores and truly interacting with Asda products.

Created by Havas London and shot by Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi, the ad shows Bublé assessing and tasting Christmas foods. The core message is that Asda is providing value, but not to the detriment of quality.

In the full ad, launching today (4 November) during The Voice on ITV, Bublé takes on the role of Asda’s inaugural Chief Quality Officer. It marks the first time the singer has appeared in a Christmas ad despite his long association with festive songs.

In a tip of the hat to last year’s campaign, as Bublé taste tests various pigs in blankets flavours, he dismisses the maple-covered sample as “so last year” – a reference to the sweet flavours enjoyed by Buddy the Elf. The ad is accompanied by social and other executions of the ad using the campaign hashtag #AsdaXmasBublé.

Asda’s chief customer officer David Hills, who joined the company in September, tells Marketing Week it was important to land the value proposition given the priorities of its customer base in 2023. “All of the quality credentials are there, [as are] the value and the Asda price. You get them resonating, then we’re in for a great Christmas.”

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He notes that Asda has invested over £100m in price, with around 270 new lines arriving in stores for Christmas.

If you can add the credentials of price… to the credentials of quality, then all of a sudden, you’ve got the value equation that punches a bigger punch than everyone else.

David Hills, chief customer officer, Asda

He argues that, while value is relative, there are a number of universal considerations when people are choosing where to purchase over Christmas. To that end, while he acknowledges that many retailers are “fighting in the same arena”, he believes Asda can hit the sweet spot of value without falling into the trap of solely focusing on price.

“Value for the middle-class shopper is different than the working-class shopper. But it’s still value they’re looking for. If you can add the credentials of price to the credentials of quality, then all of a sudden, you’ve got the value equation that punches a bigger punch than everyone else,” he says.

Vicki Maguire, chief creative officer at Havas London, explains that Asda needed to slightly reframe the discussion around ‘value’ in order to land that message. Noting that it benchmarks the quality of its food against M&S, she explains: “Usually, when you see value, you’re like ‘I’m going to drop a little bit [of quality] here to save a little bit there’. This, hopefully, is the start of a reframing [to], ‘you do not need to compromise on the brands you love, the food you love, the taste, and the enjoyment for you and yours.”

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As well as the TV ad the campaign extends across print, OOH, digital and social, CRM and in-store executions, as well as activity across Asda Radio and Asda Magazine. These cut-outs prominently feature Asda’s range of food products, which Maguire explains is designed to highlight the quality on offer.

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To that end she argues it is important that Michael Bublé not simply act as a “rent-a-celeb”, but instead be actively involved and participating in the creation of the ad. If the team had not got that aspect right, she says, consumers would have been able to sniff out the lack of authenticity and the message around quality would not land effectively.

This year has seen a number of supermarket retailers launch ads relatively early – indeed Asda’s teaser ad went live first thing on 1 November. Maguire believes Asda is going “days early, not weeks early” and that it was important to start softening the ground and catering to consumers’ desire to spread Christmas costs out over a longer period this year.

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Hills agrees, adding: “It’s important to get out of the blocks early because this year, as it has been for the last couple of years, customers are in a cost of living crisis. That’s why we think the quality and outstanding prices will resonate.”

Asda is in the middle of an evolving marketing journey, with Hills having started in the role in September. In October the supermarket announced it had appointed Aldi’s former marketing director Adam Zavalis as vice-president of marketing, reporting into Hills. That focus on ‘value’ is one that Hills says will extend beyond the Christmas campaign as it seeks to fend off competition from discounters and full-choice supermarkets.

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