Sainsbury’s has released its flagship Christmas television advert featuring children’s author Judith Kerr’s Mog character at its heart, in a bid to raise funds for Save the Children’s literacy campaign.
The supermarket’s advert – 18 months in the planning and kept tightly underwraps– was aired for the first time at 7.15pm tonight (12th November) across ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky. It features an animation of much-loved children’s author Judith Kerr’s Mog character as the accident-prone cat’s Christmas turns into a “calamity” through a sequence of amusing and highly improbable events which occur on Christmas Eve.
The advert was directed by James Rouse and co-produced by both Sainsbury’s and HarperCollins Children’s Books, with Kerr also making a cameo appearance in the film.
To coincide with the advert, Kerr, who is 92-years-old, has written a book entitled Mog’s Christmas Calamity, which will be published by HarperCollins Children’s Books and exclusively sold by Sainsbury’s. On the same evening the advert was aired, over 600 Sainsbury’s stores across the country including large and local stores wheeled out displays of the title front of store, which it will sell exclusively priced at £3. The supermarket will also sell a specially-created Mog soft toy alongside the books for £10, with all the profits from the sales of both items going towards Save the Children’s Read On. Get On. literacy campaign, backed by Book Trust and The Publishers Association.
The advert shows Mog, in the midst of the chaos she creates on Christmas Eve, succeeding in contacting the fire station which kick-starts the rescue mission to save Christmas Day. In the aftermath of the smoke filled calamity and following a visit from the fire chief and his brigade, the Thomas family turn to see all their neighbours standing in the doorway, armed with mops and brooms for the clean-up, as well as delicious festive food, drinks and decorations. At the end of the advert, everyone comes together to celebrate the Christmas festivities.
Kerr said she wrote the book “at breakneck speed” in just three months. “What the advert can do to show Mog moving is very interesting,” Kerr said. “It is so different from writing and planning the book, but the final result is wonderful.”
Ann-Janine Murtagh, executive publisher for HarperCollins Children’s Books and founding member of the Read On. Get On. Campaign, said she hoped the advert encouraged children to enjoy the pleasures of reading in future years. “It’s been a pleasure to collaborate with Sainsbury’s on this campaign and what better way to celebrate the festive season than with the gift of storytelling by putting a book at the heart of Christmas,” she said. “HarperCollins Children’s Books have been Judith Kerr’s publishers for over 50 years, and her Mog stories have enchanted generations of children. The book is joyful and has some of her finest illustrations to enjoy. It’s been a wonderfully creative collaboration and most importantly it will leave a lasting legacy to help children in Britain to share in the pleasures of reading in future years.”
Mark Given, director of planning and propositions for Sainsbury’s, said that for many families the sharing of stories was an important part of their Christmas celebrations and is often a tradition that is passed down through generations. “This year, we’re proud to be working with renowned children’s author Judith Kerr to create a magical new Mog story to be enjoyed by parents and children and to support the important cause of helping Save the Children to improve child literacy in the UK,” he said.
Tanya Steele, executive director of marketing, fundraising and communications at Save the Children said she was grateful for the spotlight the advert places on the issue of child literacy in the UK. “We want reading, which is the key to a child’s future, to become a national mission,” she said. “We are calling for everyone from parents to grandparents, communities and schools to business and government to get all children reading well by the age of 11.”
The money raised will help fund direct programmes with children and supporting their work as part of the Read On. Get On. coalition.
In September, Judith Kerr released her first children’s book since 1978 called Mister Cleghorn’s Seal inspired by the author’s father, who once took in an abandoned seal pup.