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Ahead of Shrove Tuesday, we round up our favourite initiatives this year.

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Iceland is the first grocer in the UK to commit to eliminating plastic packaging from its 1,400 private label products by 2023. MD Richard Walker calls for retailers to collaborate and drive the agenda on reducing packaging waste.

Shoppers support the recycling-friendly action

Iceland’s customer research revealed the move is strongly supported by shoppers, with 80% endorsing the move to go plastic-free, and 91% becoming more likely to encourage friends and family to shop there because of it.

Putting packaging innovation into action

Iceland’s Managing Director Richard Walker commented “There really is no excuse any more for excessive packaging that creates needless waste and damages our environment. The technologies and practicalities to create less environmentally harmful alternatives exist, and so Iceland is putting a stake in the ground.”

Changes are already underway; Iceland has removed plastic straws from its products, and upcoming new food ranges will arrive on the shelves in paper-based trays.

Iceland and its private label suppliers will need to use a variety of innovative solutions to adhere to the retailer’s environmental commitment, whilst ensuring products can be transported and displayed without damage, and maintaining their appeal to customers.

Iceland calls for other retailers to collaborate to deliver meaningful change

The news follows a new 25 year environmental plan from the UK government, which outlines ambitions to reduce plastic waste in the UK.

However, Iceland’s Richard Walker has emphasised that responsibility to lead change is on retailers “ as leading contributors to plastic packaging pollution and waste”.

In November, Iceland and Co-op backed the idea of a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles, giving customers money back when they return empty bottles.

Iceland, Co-op and Poundland are the last to release their Christmas adverts.


Asda became the first of the major UK food retailers to launch a Christmas advertisement. In a set that resembles Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, Asda has reproduced the magical feel of Christmas whilst upholding a clear focus on tradition and food.

The messaging should help build on Asda's recent work to strengthen its quality credentials while also retaining Asda's personality.

According to Asda’s Chief Customer Officer, Andy Murray, the inspiration for the advertisement came from seeing the reaction of customers when they took part in tasting sessions of Asda’s Christmas range. He explained “Earlier in the year we held sessions with our customers to get feedback on our Christmas range. As we talked to them about Christmas we could see how much joy and happiness planning their Christmas brought them – we knew we wanted to reflect that in our ad. When we saw their reactions to our food – the way it surprised them and made them smile – as well as the incredible pride and attention to detail our product developers had put into creating it, the inspiration for the Imaginarium was born.”

Asda 2017 Christmas advert (60 second) from Saatchi & Saatchi London on Vimeo.


Tesco begins its 2017 ‘Everyone’s welcome’ Christmas campaign with the release of the first of its five Christmas adverts. The retailer celebrates food at the heart of the big day. The minute-long clip reveals different families on their missions to prepare the perfect Christmas turkey, placing emphasis on food and family in line with its Food Love Stores campaign.

Alessandra Bellini, Chief Customer Officer summarised the campaign, “This year, our campaign will celebrate the many ways we come together at Christmas, and how food sits at the heart of it all. We want our customers to know that however they choose to do Christmas, and no matter what they need, we can help - Everyone’s Welcome at Tesco.”

Tesco Christmas advert (60 seconds) from BBH London on YouTube

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer has released its Christmas advertisement titled ‘Paddington and the Christmas Visitor’, ahead of the release of Paddington Bear 2 which is released in cinemas on the 10th November.

Set on Christmas Eve, the heart-warming advertisement shows Paddington unknowingly save Christmas.

Director of Brand and Marketing at M&S, Rob Weston, commented on the new release, “Paddington injects the sense of joy, love and neighbourly spirit that makes Christmas feel magical and our story reflects the inclusive, make the most of every moment approach that we take to our customer conversations.”

M&S has also produced a children’s storybook based on the tale. The book is available to buy for £3 both online and in store and all profits will be donated to the NSPCC.

M&S Christmas advert (95 seconds) from Grey London on YouTube


The launch of Lidl’s ‘Every Lidl thing for Christmas’ campaign echoes the strategy used by Tesco, as retailers are creating an emotive connection with viewers. Across a series of three 20 second adverts which display a variety of festive foods, Lidl spotlights the ‘Mince Pie Maverick’, ‘Cheeseboard Champion’ and the ‘Pudding Perfectionist’ that appear in every family on Christmas day.

Lidl Christmas advert (20 seconds) from TWBA London on YouTube


In Aldi’s 60 second Christmas advertisement viewers see the return of Kevin the Carrot as a romantic hero.

Narrated once again by Jim Broadbent, the sequel follows Kevin in his dangerous journey across a Christmas dinner table, aboard a moving train, all to save a beautiful lady carrot named Katie.

Aldi UK’s Marketing Director, Adam Zavalis said: “We launched Kevin last year with the line, heroes are grown, not born. And Kevin really did grow into our hero. Our customers took him to their hearts and enjoyed watching his escapades in the run up to Christmas.”

This year will also see the comeback of the sell-out Kevin and new Katie soft toys, due to launch on 23rd November. The toys will cost £2.99 and all profits raised will support Aldi’s charity partner, Teenage Cancer Trust.

Aldi Christmas advert (60 seconds) from McCann UK  on YouTube


This week Morrisons also released its 2017 series of Christmas advertisements which showcase key moments of the seasonal period, providing a festive family feel. The retailer also upholds a food focus, with displays of its free from range.

Scenes from the series are set both at home and in store, helping to build on its slogan ‘Morrisons Makes it’.

Morrisons Christmas advert (40 seconds) from Publicis London on YouTube


Sainsbury’s 2017 Christmas campaign launched with a 90 second advertisement titled ‘Every Bit of Christmas’ as an extension of the grocer’s long running ‘live well for less’ activity and in the style of this year’s Food Dancing campaign. The approach differs from previous years when Sainsbury’s has produced big budget feature ads, including ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ and ‘The Greatest Gift’.

In the ad, the retailer places food at the heart of the campaign with clips showcasing its festive food range. The advertisement features staff and members of the British public celebrating the best of Christmas through a song written by British comedian Doc Brown, providing a festive family feel.

Laura Boothby, Head of Broadcast Communications at Sainsbury’s, said: “Living well has been at the heart of our advertising all year and there is no better time to celebrate that than at Christmas.”

Sainsbury’s Christmas advert (90 seconds) from Wieden+Kennedy London on YouTube

John Lewis

John Lewis has released its much-awaited Christmas campaign ‘Moz The Monster’ which features a small boy befriending an imaginary monster living under his bed. The 2 minute advertisement celebrates the imagination of children and the magical feel of Christmas.

The retailer has extended the campaign theme, enabling shoppers to enjoy Moz through other ways such as through ‘mozifying’ their faces through image filters on Facebook or purchasing Moz themed toys and mugs in store. Profits made from these sales will be donated to John Lewis’s chosen charity partner, Barnardo’s.

John Lewis Christmas advert (120 seconds) from adam&eveDDB on YouTube


Waitrose has launched its Christmas advertisement using the line ‘At Christmas, there’s nothing quite like Waitrose’. The 90 second clip celebrates community spirit at Christmas as a snowstorm unexpectedly forces locals to share Christmas lunch in a remote pub setting.

Customer Director for Waitrose, Martin George commented “As our ad depicts, eating together is a way to share not just food but friendship and community spirit.”

Inspired by the advert, Author Anne Fine has written a children’s book, ‘Let It Snow’. The book is now on sale in Waitrose stores and 50p from each book will be donated to The Trussell Trust, a charity which supports food banks.

Waitrose Christmas Advert (90 seconds) from adam&eveDDB on YouTube


Co-op was one of the last retailers to launch its Christmas campaign, releasing the advertisement on December 1st. Much like its 2016’s campaign, food and community were placed at the heart of the 60 second clip. The advertisement featured Manchester based community groups singing Blur’s, ‘Tender’, upholding a fun, unrehearsed feel whilst showcasing Co-op’s festive food collection.

The track will be available to download, and all profits will be donated to Co-op Foundation.

Co-op Christmas Advert (60 seconds) from Forever Beta on YouTube


Iceland’s Christmas campaign, titled ‘Tis the Reason’, includes a series of nine 20 second clips. These contain real life footage of children opening gifts on Christmas morning to reveal the retailer’s festive food collection.

Mel Matson, Iceland’s marketing director claimed the retailer intended to go against the grain this year, avoiding the typical tear-jerking campaign and aiming to make people feel jolly this Christmas.

Iceland’s Christmas Advert (20 seconds) from Karmarama on YouTube


This year Poundland’s Christmas campaign again focuses on Christmas savings. The advertisements follow two Poundland fans asking members of the British public to guess the price of its festive products, who are then surprised at the £1 cost.

Poundland’s Marketing Controller Mark Pym commented, “This is how Poundland do Christmas; real customers talking about real products on the high street with real reactions”.

Poundland’s Christmas Advert (30 seconds) on YouTube


Iceland reveals plans to expand its larger format stores, the launch of its new premium range and offering discounts to students.  

Expanding The Food Warehouse

According to reports from The Grocer, in the long-term Iceland hopes to open 400 of its The Food Warehouse outlets, a drastic development on its currently existing 52 Warehouses.

First introduced in 2014, the larger format stores are an average size of 15,000 sq ft, significantly larger than its typical stores. This extra space affords Iceland the opportunity to offer a greater range of products to its customers. This includes a recently relaunched fresh produce range of 100 lines, including bigger pack sizes and products sourced directly from growers, reports the fresh produce journal.

Following the initial success of this new format, Managing Director Richard Walker has announced plans to expand at a pace of 30 new Food Warehouses a year, claiming he “would be disappointed if the chain didn’t eventually reach 400 stores”.

Expanding premium private label range


Iceland has expanded its premium private label range of groceries under the luxury brand. The range includes products such as hand cooked crisps, pasta sauces and chocolate at strongly competitive prices. This move echoes discounters Aldi and Lidl as they also expand their lower cost luxury ranges.

Online student discount

The leading frozen food retailer has become the first supermarket to offer students a 10% discount on all online orders over £40, with a chance to secure a greater discount on a larger spend. The one-off offer is available to students via the UNiDAYS website. This could incentivise students to try online shopping with the retailer.


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