waitrose content marketingPhoto courtesy of http://www.fundraising.co.uk

When I saw this year’s Christmas TV advert from Waitrose, I was struck by its simplicity and (on the face of it) non-promotional nature. Usually, we’re treated to a mix of Delia and Heston whipping up something delicious in the kitchen – and why not? It’s a food and drink retailer that wishes to promote its products.

However this year, the popular supermarket has taken a different approach with its televisual content, opting for the neutral route…

The simple approach

Instead of creating a glitzy, warm and festive advert, Waitrose instead decided to focus on its fundraising efforts. Don’t panic – Delia and Heston are still on-screen – but this year, they appear in a bare studio. They talk about Waitrose’s ‘Community Matters’ scheme, which sees shoppers help towards the supermarket’s quarterly charity donation.

When they make a purchase, shoppers are given a green token – which they can then donate towards one, two or all of that quarter’s chosen charities. The amount of tokens donated to each reflects the percentage of Waitrose’s £25k donation that they will receive.

The advert was designed to highlight Waitrose’s commitment to good causes. The money saved from the so-called “un-glamourous” advert will go towards some 1,700 charities across Britain.

So it’s not promotional, but it is?

The decision to invest its advertising money elsewhere is a stroke of genius on Waitrose’s part. Let’s break it down…

The brand has foregone its one chance to promote its product lines at a time when (thanks to Christmas) Brits are in the mood for treating themselves. They’ve had to tighten their purse strings all year and the festive season provides an opportunity to loosen them a bit. However Waitrose hasn’t capitalised on that, effectively delivering non-promotional content.

Yet what it has done is establish itself as a charitable brand that cares about the good of the nation. In fact, it is so selfless that it has done the aforementioned – forsaken its own profits for the good of others and boasted about it on the TV. That’s what makes this content promotional, too.

Having its cake and eating it too

Waitrose has struck gold with this year’s Christmas campaign. It will hit the hearts of the nation and will likely see increased profits as a result of its improved brand reputation – all without a chipolata or roast potato in sight.

Other brands could learn a valuable lesson from this advert. Not everything has to be a hard sell. Why not let your brand’s reputation and commitment to whatever causes it supports take centre stage? After all, once the content is out there, the branding will take care of itself.