Viral Review: Sainsbury’s Charming Xmas Ad Will Leave You Feline Warm And Fuzzy

This article originally appeared in Marketing magazine

Sainsbury’s: ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’

Sainsbury’s entry into 2015’s ad race just dropped and, to pretty much everyone’s surprise, it’s a reboot of a beloved British franchise. Are we talking about Harry Potter? Doctor Who? The Magic Roundabout?

No, true to the internet, it’s another adorable cat. Making his first appearance since 2002, Judith Kerr’s Mog the Cat is the star of Sainsbury’s latest campaign, which looks to inject some slapstick fun into the occasionally self-serious Christmas ad genre. This is undeniably a spot for the kids, that also harkens back to parents’ picture books.

Beginning with a classic ‘The night before Christmas’ voiceover, the spot guides us through a suburban home, where each family member is dreaming of something different. Dad is winning at the Test Match, the kids are dreaming of tomorrow’s presents and Mum is dreaming of…well, that part isn’t quite as kid-friendly.

Downstairs, their cat Mog is having a nightmare. Shaken awake by his night terrors, Mog’s sudden movement sets in motion a chain of events that utterly demolishes his family’s hope of a happy Christmas. Like a Rube Goldberg machine of despair, Mog sents cricket balls knocking into plates, which turn gas hobs on, which set tea towels on fire, which set the Christmas tree aflame, and so on until the whole house is an ashen, anti-festive mess.

Safe to say that ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ is a pretty apt title. Having completely seen to the family’s chance of a merry Christmas, Mog is racked by guilt (or as guilty as you can be as a CGI tabby cat). But, of course, this being a Christmas ad, you’re not left without a happy ending. Hearing about the family’s misfortunes, the neighbours decide to chip in and put their house back in fine Christmas fettle. The spot ends with the family enjoying Christmas lunch, while calamitous Mog keeps his secret very much to himself.

Besides advocating not taking responsibility for your actions, ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ is a charming and sweet antidote to even Sainsbury’s own Christmas advertising. Last year, the retail chain made an incredibly bold statement with ‘Christmas Is For Sharing’. ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ is much less controversial than its predecessor, and much easier to love as a result.

In fact, the closest cousins Sainsbury’s Mog seems to have are to be found in John Lewis’ menagerie, namely Monty the Penguin and the Bear and The Hare. With reigning Christmas kings pushed in a much more human-centric direction this year with their #ManOnTheMoon, could this be the Christmas that Sainsbury’s adorable animal takes the top prize?

Judging by the ad itself, there’s no reason why not. It’s sweet, well-directed and comes bundled in with all the childhood associations of Judith Kerr’s book series. Not to mention the fact that the ad comes hand in hand with a new Christmas title from Kerr, all in support of Save The Children’s child literacy campaigns.

While we’ll have to wait and see how Sainsbury’s fares against its competitors this festive season, we’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: it takes a lot for the internet not to love a cat.

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