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Marking an end to its centenary year, Tesco has proudly announced that its decision to place most of its advertising budget for the Christmas period into media, rather than a big blockbuster, has paid off, with brand recall up 73% for its contextual-ads.

The Christmas campaign was the final chapter of its centenary push, which ran throughout 2019 and celebrated how the retailer has been delivering ‘great value’ for 100 years. The campaign put forth a series of playful ads and an in-store promotion of 'Prices that Will Take You Back.'

Created by BBH London, the Christmas spot was a nostalgic Back to the Future-esque magical mystery tour of the UK, which saw an unassuming Tesco delivery driver embark on an unexpected, whirlwind journey.

Tesco puts its strong performance down to the contextualisation of the ads. Working alongside MediaCom, Tesco collaborated with Channel 4, ITV and Sky Media, to stitch together ‘super spots’ of the campaign that saw the time-traveller hop through time and channels to deliver Christmas to eight of the UK’s most-watched shows.

Claiming it was the first time that a brand has brought all three broadcaster’s talent and shows together in ‘one TV’ creative partnership, the spots featured talent from I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Hollyoaks, The Chase, A League of Their Own and Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday.

On the back of this, Tesco has announced that 72% of those viewing the contextual ads recognised the advertising – far above the 49% benchmark.

Further, 71% of contextual viewers felt that the advertising ‘captured the magic of Christmas’ which was above 59% for non-contextual. 50% of contextual viewers found the campaign ‘inspirational’ versus 36% for non-contextual.

Ultimately, through its relevance and collaboration the advertising worked to increase purchase intent for Tesco.com by 60% among viewers of contextual ads compared to non-viewers, at a highly competitive time of the year.

The strong campaign performance is just the cherry on top of Tesco’s strong Christmas sales, that saw a 0.1% increase in UK like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 4 January, while third-quarter revenues overall rose 0.4%, delivering its fifth consecutive year of sales growth at Christmas.  

When Tesco presented its results for the critical period back in January, its outgoing chief exec, Dave Lewis, told The Drum that its year-long investment into the BBH-created campaign to celebrate its 100-year anniversary had seen a rise in key measures around perception of quality and value, as well as improved reports of ease of shop, colleague helpfulness and availability of products in-store.

“I’ve never seen the business running as well as it did at Christmas,” said Lewis. “This combination helped us outperform the market against a challenging backdrop.”