Woolworths winning the race to Christmas lunch

Woolworths winning the race to Christmas lunch

Christmas advertising has experienced an “upsurge” this year and Woolworths is the clear frontrunner in the race to provide the Christmas turkey, according to one branding expert.

Tim Riches, managing director of Designworks, told B&T retailers have ramped up their marketing efforts in the lead up to Christmas 2013.

“The major supermarkets in particular seem to be placing more emphases on it this year and doing so in a high profile way,” Riches said.

Christmas is a key time for the supermarkets to build on their largely functional relationship with consumers and attempt to forge a genuine connection, according to Riches.

A look at the brands’ first lot of Christmas ads has put Woolworths shopping trolley in front.

Coles two-pronged approach with Curtis Stone and Heston Blumenthal is interesting, according to Riches, but he said both are “single-mindedly around product”.

Curtis adds authority to Coles’ quality claims while Blumenthal ramps up the luxuriousness with his line of goodies and his high-end food credentials.

“But both of those ads are still very product centric whereas the Woolies one brings in a social connection.”

The Woolworths Christmas ad (below), the first featuring Jamie Oliver since the partnership was announced, was shot in London and features expat Australians.

Riches says the spot has a “human connection the others lack” and said it was “beautifully done”.

“The nice thing about Jamie is that he has a foot in the everyday and a foot in the gourmet. So he can cover broadly the same kind of credibility turf of the Curtis/Heston combination.”

However, the relationship with Oliver is set to be a long-term challenge for Woolies.

“He is there with an agenda, and fair play to him because that is how he drives his own personal brand. The question is whether Woolies can play nice over time around that agenda.”

The partnership has already seen Woolworths commit to phasing out caged whole eggs by 2018 and to sell only RSPCA, or equivalent approved, chicken by the end of 2014.

“I suspect Heston will be easier to get along with than Jamie and I think they [Coles] will use him in a limited and more focused way. Just not sure that partnership will have the same potential impact.”

Coles has brought on board food superstar Heston Blumenthal and Woolworths has recruited Jamie Oliver, with both featuring in the supermarket giants’ Christmas ads.

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