'What's not to love?' and 'route one stuff': PRWeek's expert panel react to Aldi and Lidl's Christmas campaigns

Germany may be credited with influencing the traditions that make Christmas what it is today - but have German budget retailers Lidl and Aldi hit the mark with their 2017 Christmas campaigns? PRWeek's panel gives its verdict.

Lidl (above) celebrates Christmas quirks, while Aldi creates Kevin the Carrot sequel
Lidl (above) celebrates Christmas quirks, while Aldi creates Kevin the Carrot sequel

Lidl launched its "tribal" Christmas campaign, which is said by one panellist to lack "integration or originality", on Friday (3 November).

Aldi's campaign, which sees the return of Kevin the Carrot, went live on Tuesday (7 November).

Lidl - Christmas tribes is 'hard PR sell'

Eight versions of the Lidl film (below) have been created to portray a range of quirky "characters", with tribal behaviours typical of British families at Christmas at the heart of each story, Lidl said. These include the "mince pie maverick", "tipple technician", and "pudding perfectionist".

Unity co-founder Nik Govier said she was surprised by how "un-Lidly" the Lidl ads were, adding that they felt "more Iceland than the brand that has become much loved by the middle classes".

Govier also said: "I'm surprised by the seemly lack of integration or originality this year, but maybe they have a few things up their sleeve that they're yet to reveal."

Fellow panellist James Herring, managing partner at Taylor Herring, said Lidl typically "smashes the competition" with headline-grabbing promotions on lobster and Champagne. However, he said this year's campaign "feels fairly functional".

Herring said: "There's plenty of humour in the featured mince pie addict - but I think their umbrella theme of 'Christmas tribes' is a hard PR sell."

David Fraser, founder of Ready10, added: "This is 'route one' stuff from Lidl - and there's nothing particularly wrong with that. No story, no journey and no big, set piece, pull on the heartstrings here, but what they do well is showcase their pretty tasty looking food."

Meanwhile, Ranj George, UK head of consumer at Lewis, said it was "not what you would traditionally define as highly creative, nor does it ignite talkability, but that's not the point". 

He said: "I think Lidl was astute in not trying to pull at the heartstrings of consumers and going up against the traditional retail Goliaths of Christmas adverts, such as Sainsbury's and John Lewis. It has played to its strengths."

Aldi - Kevin the Carrot returns... with a twist

Rival budget supermarket Aldi's 2017 Christmas campaign, which launched yesterday (7 November), saw the return of last year's diminutive hero, Kevin the Carrot. This year, Aldi has introduced a love interest - Katie the Carrot.

Emma Hazan, global head of consumer at Hotwire, said: "We have a sequel, we have a love interest and we have a flying train - what's not to love about this story? Aldi have been super smart - bringing back a much-loved character that partly helped them boost Christmas sales by 15 per cent last year."

Hazan added: "Whereas 2016 saw Kevin looking for Santa, now he is looking for love and it works like magic. This year, Kevin also even gets his own dating page on Happn - bringing to life his search for love. This kind of integration is both clever and also attempts to reach a different, younger audience. Nicely done."

Govier said the campaign "warmed the cockles", adding that Aldi's campaign teaser was "lovely".

However, Govier said: "What's disappointing is seeing how the character-led approach is actually becoming quite formulaic, with books appearing in stores, soft toys, and Twitter profiles, which I feel we've seen a lot before, and are also seeing in the M&S campaign this year.

"Of course, if you have a great character like Kevin you need to exploit that, but I can't help thinking there are more original ways of doing this. That said I'm not down on Kevin - it's a lovely story and a great evolution."

Read next: Paddington Bear stars in magical Christmas caper for Marks & Spencer

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