Waitrose Skips the Whimsical but Still Warms Hearts in Its Christmas Ad

And you might actually remember what's being advertised

Headshot of David Griner

Christmas storytelling is an annual rite of advertising one-upsmanship in Britain. But how can you weave a heart-warming tale while still keeping your product front and center?

U.K. grocery chain Waitrose has found one solution by focusing on something that differentiates its staff. Employee-shared ownership in the company, which would normally be the driest of dry topics, takes a charming turn in the store's new holiday spot from BBH London. A real employee, Adejumoke Sanusi of Ilford, was even cast to play herself.

The ad follows the story of an introverted young woman tackling a holiday baking challenge for school. Unlike the fantastical whimsy of advertisers like John Lewis, this ad is far more grounded in the reality of why you'd actually need to turn (time and again) to a helpful grocery clerk. 

It likely won't leave you wiping tears from your eyes, but on the other hand, you'll probably at least remember what was being advertised.

By the way, the soundtrack comes from an interesting source: Members of the public joined a "Donate Your Voice" effort to create the track, a cover of Dolly Parton's "Try." The song is available for purchase on iTunes, with proceeds going to three U.K. charities.

Client: Waitrose
Marketing Director: Rupert Thomas
Head of Marketing: Rupert Ellwood
Manager, Advertising: Jo Massey
Marketing Manager, Advertising: Libby Langridge

Agency: BBH, London
Creative Team: Fred Rodwell, Andy Parsons
Creative Directors: Ken Hoggins, Martha Riley
Strategist: Melanie Arrow
Strategy Director: Tom Roach
Business Lead: Sian Cook
Team Manager: Emma Johnston-Donne
Team Director: Kayleigh Chapman
Producer: Glenn Paton
Assistant Producer: Sarah Cooper

Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Tom Tagholm
Executive Producer: Stephen Brierley
Producer: Fran Thompson
Director of Photography: Rob Hardy

Postproduction: MPC
Visual Effects Producer: Amy Richardson
Visual Effects Supervisor: Jonathan Box
Colorist: Jean-Clément Soret

Editing House: Stitch
Editor: Tim Hardy
Sound: Sam Ashwell at 750mph
Music Supervisor: The Most Radicalist Black Sheep Music
Music Producer: David Kosten
Music Publisher: Carlin Music
Music Label: BMG Chrysalis

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@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."