Case study: Sainsbury wakes up Mog the Cat for Christmas Calamity

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A year after its controversial advert showing a Christmas Day truce on the Western Front, Sainsbury's called upon the powers of children's writer Judith Kerr to create a heart-warming Christmas ad that rivaled John Lewis' festive campaign.

Children's writer Judith Kerr revived Mog the forgetful cat for this year's Sainsbury's advert, which got 18 million YouTube views in less than 2 weeks.

Kerr, who has also created children's classics "The Tiger Who Came To Tea" and "When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit", has written and illustrated a book to accompany the advert.

In the 3 minute ad, the accident-prone cat wreaks havoc in the kitchen on Christmas Eve, and setting fire to the Christmas tree. Luckily, she accidentally dials the fire brigade while walking over the telephone and ends up saving the day.

The heart-warming tale, which sees the neighbours come together to share what they have so Mog’s family can have a perfect Christmas, may well give John Lewis’s £7m tear-jerker Man on the Moon a run for its money as best ad of the festive season.

Sainsbury’s launched the TV ad with a major push across 50 TV channels simultaneously, known as “road blocking”, with an extended 3 minute 30 second version.

"For many families the sharing of stories is an important part of their Christmas celebrations and is often a tradition that is passed down through generations," said Mark Given, director of planning and propositions at Sainsbury’s.

Sainsbury's will be selling the book in stores for £3 and a Mog soft toy will be available for £10, with all profits from both items going to Save the Children's work to improve child literacy in the UK.

One-in-five children leaves primary school with substandard reading skills, the charity said.

"We want reading, which is the key to a child’s future, to become a national mission," said Tanya Steele, Save the Children's executive director of marketing, fundraising and communications.

Sainsbury’s focus on an emotional story is in sharp contrast to ads by rival supermarkets all of which feature their products and services ahead of what is likely to be a tough Christmas for the grocers who have been embroiled in a price war for over a year.

In 2014, Sainsbury’s launched an epic festive TV campaign focusing on the truce in the trenches on Christmas Day 1914, pushing the ethical marketing angle with a partnership with the British Legion, which came in for criticism for using the first world war as a promotional tool.
It was the most-viewed ad on YouTube in the UK last year, pipping John Lewis’s Monty the Penguin, which was more popular globally.

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