Wieden + Kennedy takes Sainsbury’s back to its roots in epic new Christmas campaign

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Sainsbury’s has unveiled its new Christmas advert, which focuses on the humble beginnings of a young boy called Nicholas and where he was 150 years ago. Based on myth and whisper, the advert reveals the rumoured story behind one of the nation’s favourite Lapland residents.


Depicting a Dickensian London, the story opens around the first ever Sainsbury’s store back in 1869. Here John James and Mary Ann showcase their finest produce, showing overflowing tables of apples, eggs and bread. A sack of overflowing glowing clementines catches the eyes of shoppers and a young group of chimney sweeps, including the star of the story, a young boy called Nick.

Unfortunately for the orphan, he is wrongly accused of stealing a Clementine that’s fallen off the table and his evil workmaster convinces the surrounding crowd that Nick is a thief and has him banished from the city. Luckily for Nick, Mary Ann Sainsbury is watching the whole event, realising Nick has been set up. Later we see the orphan banished in the cold, when he is woken from his nightmares and rescued by Mary Ann who gives him his very own sack of clementines.

When Nick exclaims that he can’t pay for the gift, Mary Ann smiles, saying “If you can’t do something special for someone at Christmas, then when can you?”

Before he rides off into the snowy sunset, Nick conducts one last act of kindness and secretly drops clementines into the socks of his chimney sweep friends. Dressed in a red coat and putting his hat on, the advert ends with Nick walking away knowing he has brought a touch of Christmas magic to the local children.

The advert forms part of the brand’s 150th birthday celebrations, with ‘Helping make Christmas, Christmas since 1869’ sitting at the heart of the Sainsbury’s marketing campaign. Additional food and drink TV, radio, print, digital, social and OOH advertising is planned around the same message.

Says Laura Boothby, head of broadcast marketing at Sainsbury’s: “It’s been a special year for Sainsbury’s and we felt it was fitting for our Christmas advert to look back and celebrate the role we’ve played in making Christmas Christmas for the nation for the past 150 years. We’ve always helped to bring a bit of sparkle to everyone’s Christmas, be it through the delicious turkey, brussel sprouts or even exotic clementines!

Star of the show is Chris Dunkley who was cast in the role of Nick the Sweep. Following a nationwide search, Chris was chosen as he showed a range of performance styles well beyond his years and captured the different emotions Nick goes through on his journey.

The advert was directed by Ninian Doff, an award-winning director whose previous work spans music videos, comedy shorts and commercials. In 2016, Ninian was awarded “Best Director” at the UKMVA’s and Best Direction at the D&AD Awards 2016.

The commercial was created by Wieden+Kennedy and will premier in a primetime TV slot on Tuesday 12th November during Emmerdale on ITV, with the extended advert due to roll out on all social channels from 00.01 that morning.

Client: Sainsbury’s
Creative Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
Production Company: Pulse Films
Director: Ninian Doff
Music Company: SIREN
Music Producer: Siân Rogers
Composer: Chris White