Guerilla Marketing for Aldi Christmas TV campaign 2021

Christmas is here. At least, it is according to my TV.

From the end of one cheery wave from Holly Willoughby as she punts viewers across the nation into the ads, to the moment that the silver fox of Schofield greets us back, our airwaves are now awash with snow, schmaltz and Santa. Every ad break. All day.

Will John Lewis win the season this year? Will Sainsbury’s steal the show with another Mog the Cat moment? Every November news channels and panel shows fill with debate and discussion about the Christmas ads. News,… about ads.

It turns out, however, that there’s a very good reason for all the fuss.

Some estimates place the return on investment for a successful Christmas TV spot at £24 for every £1 brands spend. For a bit of context, advertisers are spending an estimated £6.8 BILLION this year,……….. Now times that by 24 and put it back in their pockets.

But what if you could engineer a laugh that would get you free advertising this Christmas? What might your return be then?

Enter a certain chocolate-covered Caterpillar.

Back in April, M&S made one of the strangest corporate decisions in many years when they chose to sue Aldi for “copying” their Colin the Caterpillar cake. It became one of the most remarkable marketing own-goals I can remember because they entirely forgot that their customers were British. We love an underdog story.

Suddenly the Twittersphere was in uproar! In the space of two hours, the vast hum of internet chatter had switched from cat videos and onto the country’s views on this one matter: M&S’s Colin vs. Aldi’s Cuthbert.

We chose Cuthbert, of course, and Aldi got enough free advertising out of the silly charade to open a dozen new stores at least.

Now Cuthbert is at it again and this time he’s winning the Christmas war.

Not ones to let an opportunity slip by, Aldi popped Cuthbert into their Christmas Ad,… getting arrested by two sour lemons in the background of the opening shot.

People,…. Noticed. Lots of people.

Just as Aldi had, no doubt, intended, people wanted to see the gag for themselves and the ad went viral on Youtube. More than that, it went bigger. Bigger than you-know-who.

Within 3 days of release, Aldi’s Ebanana Scrooge Christmas animation had racked up 6 Million views on YouTube vs. 4 Million for the John Lewis love story that had premiered over a week earlier.

It wasn’t Kevin The Carrot bringing in those views, or Scrooge himself – not even Marcus Rashford: people wanted to see Cuthbert.

My Facebook feed was flooded with people talking about Cuthbert in chains. News articles sprang up in the Huffington Post and the Metro as editors caught wind of the sly moment of thumb-nosing.

When the dust of the Christmas Ad Blitz settles this year, I suspect it won’t be Emma Raducanu throwing snowballs or alien almost-kisses that’ll linger in the minds of shoppers, it’ll be the one, brilliant moment where the upstart grocer blew yet another sly raspberry at the stuffy old-timer who tried to stop people having fun.

Cuthbert will have stolen (or should that be Stollen?) Christmas.