Sainsbury's takes on John Lewis in accidental battle of the school plays

Sainsbury's takes on John Lewis in accidental school play face-off

Supermarket's Christmas ad features schoolkids around the UK performing New Radicals' You Get What You Give.

Sainsbury’s is the second major retailer this year to create a showpiece ad featuring a school theatrical rendition of a pop classic.

John Lewis and Waitrose gave us a space opera production of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody in their joint brand relaunch campaign in September. Now, Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign, by Wieden & Kennedy London, has gone for 1998 New Radicals guitar-pop hit You Get What You Give, performed by kids dressed as decorations as they construct an enormous Christmas tree scene on stage.

"The big night" was created by Freddy Taylor, Philippa Beaumont and Andrew Bevan, and directed by Michael Gracey – who helmed Hugh Jackman blockbuster The Greatest Showman – through Partizan. The media agency is PHD.

The two-minute film breaks tonight during Coronation Street on ITV and forms part of the wider "We give all we’ve got for the ones we love" campaign, which will include additional product-led TV spots as well as radio, print, digital, social and out-of-home activity.

"The big night" features 60 children from around the UK, led by eight-year-old Tia Isaac from London, who plays the Christmas star and contributes lead vocals to the song. The star outfit worn by Isaac will be available to buy in Sainsbury’s. Many of the grown-ups appearing in the audience are the real parents of the kids (although Isaac’s mother is played by an actor).

Laura Boothby, head of broadcast marketing at Sainsbury’s, said that, despite similarities to the John Lewis/Waitrose campaign (below), she was not concerned that the two might be confused by viewers – and Sainsbury's did not consider ditching the idea once they became aware of the other ad.

"We started work in January, and the thing we were really inspired by is that every school up and down the country is doing a nativity play, and that’s really what this is about," she said. Because of the visual cues of the film, including the use of orange along with black and white, "I don’t think you’d question that it is from Sainsbury’s", Boothby added.

On the use of the New Radicals song, Boothby said: "It’s a 90s banger, so has huge amounts of nostalgia, which I think is really powerful in advertising. And the narrative of the song just aligned really brilliantly with ‘We give all we’ve got for the ones we love’."

Behind the scenes of 'The big night'

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