Sainsbury’s caused surprise across the advertising industry last summer when it moved its account to Wieden + Kennedy, ending a 35-year relationship with AMV BBDO, which had included some classic ad campaigns, from Mog’s Christmas to Jamie Oliver’s endorsement of the brand.
The pressure is on W+K to come up with something worthy of the move (especially as the Sainsbury’s 2016 Christmas ad, AMV’s last campaign for them, was the most viewed ad on YouTube in the UK in 2016, beating the John Lewis Xmas ad), and this week they released their first set of ads for the brand, which are themed around the notion of getting simple pleasure from food, and star members of the public. Shown here are posters and gifs from the campaign and the main TV ad is shown below:
The campaign continues the Sainsbury’s tagline ‘Live well for less’. “They had the endline which they’d been using for years, but had never really been imbued with a lot of meaning,” say creative directors Scott Dungate and Sophie Bodoh. “So we set out to do just that. We liked the thought that you don’t need lots of money to live well, it’s the simple things in life, the stuff that make you feel good. Our first expression of this is ‘Food Dancing’. That moment when you’ve got the radio on, you’re cooking up some tasty food and you’re having a little dance. It’s something that happens in the privacy of people’s homes all across Britain.”
Casting from real life is a popular trick in advertising at the moment (read our article on the trend here), but the ad, which is directed by Siri Bunford, features a set of particularly charming, and pleasingly diverse, characters. “We didn’t want to tell people how to live well. We wanted to shine a light on what real people actually do,” say Dungate and Bodoh on the decision to cast from life. “So it made sense to use real people in our campaign. We also wanted to capture what Britain is really all about. Rather than the airbrushed version you so often see in adverts.
“Siri Bunford is great at getting natural performances out of people, with a very light touch,” the duo continue. “We found brilliant characterful people, who had a natural warmth and energy, then let them do their own thing. They danced to their favourite music, in their own kitchens, moving in whatever way came naturally.”
The TV spot features a catchy new song, Food Dancing (Yum Yum Yum), by UK artist MysDiggi (who incidentally used to work at Sainsbury’s and whose mum still works for the company). This, as is the way these days, will be released on Spotify and also comes with a separate, but heavily Sainsbury’s-themed, music video, shown below.
Unusually, the ad shows all the footage from real life in black-and-white, while the food shots are in colour, which makes the culinary offerings particularly pop. “We wanted to do something that looked and felt totally different to what else was going on in the category,” say Dungate and Bodoh. “Something with fresh energy. Treating the portraiture and the food as separate elements allows us much more freedom, it means we can be totally authentic with the portraiture, without compromising on the deliciousness of the food. Plus big bold orange type looks great on black and white.”
So is the campaign a success? Certainly it delivers a different, and more vibrant, tone of voice for Sainsbury’s, and all elements are striking enough to turn heads. It also makes sense today to try and make the public a champion for your brand, rather than a celebrity (sorry Jamie) and while a number of brands are also attempting this, few have pulled it off with such charm.
Whether it is as radical a campaign as the creatives might like to suggest is up for debate though. Yes, the mix of black-and-white and colour is a powerful effect but we’ve seen food porn imagery like this across every supermarket brand, and those bold words across the posters feel very reminiscent of Lurpark’s advertising, another of W+K’s clients, whose ads have proved influential across the food retail sector.
But these quibbles aside, this is undoubtedly appealing work. Plus in a sector with such crossover among brands – something that Wieden + Kennedy will be all too familiar with after having had a two-year stint on the Tesco’s account from 2012-14 – it can be difficult to truly stand out. We look forward to seeing what else is to come.
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative directors: Scott Dungate, Sophie Bodoh
Creatives: Philippa Beaumont, Andrew Bevan, Freddy Taylor
Design director: Karen Jane
Designers: Stephanie McArdle, Tobias Bschorr
ECDs: Tony Davidson, Iain Tait
Production company: Knucklehead
Director: Siri Bunford
Editorial company: Final Cut
VFX: Time Based Arts
Food photographer: David Sykes
Portrait photographer: Josh Cole