Cannes Lions

Waitrose & Partners - Too Good To Wait


Presentation Image
Case Film






For consumers, Christmas is a joyful season, spent celebrating, relaxing, and spending time with loved ones.

For advertisers, it’s a vicious battleground.

And at Waitrose & Partners, every year we risk feeling out-spent, out-shouted and overlooked.

What’s more, during the festive season, timing is everything. We also know consumers tire of ads quickly. But with a whole season of sales to drive, we couldn’t be forgotten after a matter of days. We needed consumers to keep choosing Waitrose for all their seasonal shops, not just the main event.

So, our challenge was to stand out amongst the competition for the duration of the season. And to do it all with only 7% SOV, compared to our competitors.

We particularly targeted those living near to Waitrose & Partners shops, and older, affluent foodies – typically ABC1, age 45+.

If Christmas was a battleground, we were coming out fighting...


Our ad “Too good to wait” poked fun at rushing through festive traditions to get to the food. But with small AV budgets every spot needed to work overtime. This was not a “launch and leave” strategy.

We posed the question, if our food was too good to wait for, why couldn’t our advert be? So, just as our creative rushed through activities to focus on that food, could we do the same in media?

We pitched the idea of fast-forwarding other brands’ spots to get to ours and convinced a handful to allow us to fast-forward their ads.

But one spot wasn’t enough. We needed affordable longevity. So, we explored other high-frequency options such as idents to give frequency within budget but deliver creative standout.

We phased our range of activity according to a ‘moments mapping’ research project which identified a vast selection of purchase drivers over the season.


The target market was ABC1, 45+, living in proximity to a Waitrose branch, and customers found via MyWaitrose card data.

We teased audiences with unbranded ads featuring a continuity announcer distracted by Waitrose & Partners food, before finally remembering to announce the next programme on ITV.

We then launched in Coronation Street with a media first. As solus advertiser we ran a 50” spot, fast-forwarding Renault and Sony Pictures ads with a humorous voiceover about being eager to get to some mince pies. Our non-standard approach continued with contextual 10” spots, stating that the following show could wait.

Finally, noise around our sister company, John Lewis & Partners peaks at Christmas thanks its highly anticipated Christmas ad. Just as we had poked fun at other traditions, we gambled and poked fun at this, too. We aired copy featuring a family fast-forwarding the #EltonJohnLewis ad in order to devour some Stollen.


This was all about differentiating Waitrose & Partners, via new formats and new partnerships.

Launching alongside the iconic soap, Coronation Street, drove considerable reach, as did our decision to leverage the fame around John Lewis & Partners’ advertising messages at Christmas.

The humorous voiceovers and decision to fast-forward client ads were also original and bold moves, and made our audience sit up and listen.

By riding the coattails of the John Lewis & Partners Christmas advertising and related noise around it, we reignited conversation around Waitrose & Partners, and with barely any media budget, all within safe and suitable brand environments.

A large-scale research project also informed the execution, as we focused on proven Christmas moments, to inform our phased approach. The cultural rhythm of ‘unwrapping Christmas’ via a series of key moments, from secret Santa, to the last post and delivery dates, gave the campaign both longevity and impact.


The results were fantastic.

With 14 TVRs, we became the most searched for ad within our competitor set and the only advertiser within YouTube’s top trending videos, peaking at #6.

What’s more, 90% of 300k views were organic – generating conversation by way of their original execution.

Most importantly, sales of the products shown in the ads increased by up to 12%.

The year ended 7.5% up versus the same week in 2017, demonstrating creativity can certainly drive effectiveness.

Similar Campaigns

3 items

DISH podcast

WAITROSE, Oldbury, bracknell

DISH podcast


(opens in a new tab)